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What Is the Farm-to-Table Movement?
© Ytsenoh 2013
...Not a New Trend
What's really interesting about "farm-to-table" or what is also referred to as "farm-to-fork" is that it's not just about an eating behavior. It's really much more than that; it opens the door to a variety of lessons about your local farming communities, healthy eating lifestyles, and the environment from where your food products come from. And, it's not just about the vegetables coming out of dark rich soil, it includes a wealth of information about your local dairies and animal farms. It's a laborious journey from the farmer growing or raising the product to the customer who catches the aesthetic and flavorful experience on their plate. Hence, there is a shared passion for food quality.
Today, restaurants around the country embrace the farm-to-table method and their chefs or staff members love going to their local growers or city markets to stock their kitchen with a wide array of freshness--a freshness they want to deliver to their customers who may have the same values when it comes to natural goodness in a vegetable or meat product. This, in turn, brings economic support to the local farming community. And, face it, we are all living in an era where we question the health related value of any processed food item whether it lives in a can or sealed plastic.
- Art of the Table
The Art of the Table located in Seattle, Washington has an initial catch phrase of "It's about the food..." and it incorporates everything local into their creative menus.
Is It Farm-to-Table Or Farm-to-Fork?
I think it depends on where you are and who you are to best describe who would say "farm-to-table" or "farm-to-fork." The latter sounds contemporary catchy, but the former sounds almost more earthy as intended.
You could literally live on a farm and raise your food to put on your table. You could also be dining at a farm restaurant that gets its product on a nearby farm and puts it on the menu. Essentially, food is being bought directly from local growers. Nice, right?
At farm-to-table restaurants, the chef or someone in the restaurant's employ who helps put the menu together find creative names for their entrées. The chef blends the right spices and maybe the juice of a fresh fruit, both of which to drizzle on your "free range" chicken to simply wow your palate. That flavor of your piece of chicken won't be disguised by the drizzle; however--the quality of taste will bounce around in your head for a while. You will probably be amazed that you can actually taste chicken.
In a farm-to-table food establishment, or event, all produce, cheese and even meats are from local growers and animal farmers. Chefs are very passionate with their creations, including the display on your plate. And, just imagine being the chef or staff member taking a field trip to the local farmer and selecting fresh vegetables for the week--onions, garlic, tomatoes, squash, carrots--imagine the rich soil that squeezes these fresh items out of the ground. Imagine the fruit farms--tart cherries for that traditional cherry pie and the apples and peaches!
Once you go to one of these farm-to-table restaurants, you just might get hooked. You'll like the idea the food comes from local producers and that everything is fresh--nothing is processed and it just seems healthier.
- Welcome to Justus Drugstore
The Justus Drugstore restaurant is located outside of Kansas City in Smithville, Missouri. My first experience dining here brought me back. The owners are personable and their creative menu includes products grown locally.
Jim Deneven's Creation of "Outstanding in the Field"
The first time I became acquainted with the phrase, "farm-to-table," was about four years ago, although organic gardening was a lesson learned from my late father. Through his influence, I had the experience of caring for my own family garden continually learning the value of "we are what we eat." It was all about creating and tasting the quality of a great vegetable absent man-made chemicals and pesticides--ask yourself, "Is this good for me?" or "Is this really good for the soil?"
Chef and artist, Jim Deneven, and his big red and white bus came to Kansas City, Missouri in 2009. I had never heard of him until his event hit our local newspaper. Deveven had selected Chef Jonathan Justus of the Justus Drugstore restaurant in Smithville, Missouri, to participate in this event. In conjunction with the Heartland Harvest Garden at Powell Gardens, the first "Under the Harvest Moon" eating and fundraising event would take place. This was interesting to me because I had actually eaten at the Justus Drugstore as well as had the opportunity to meet Chef Justus and his wife. As a side, this event was also somewhat of a celebration for the Heartland Harvest Garden because its first harvest was occurring that year which added to the excitement to land at Powell Gardens. This successful type of fundraiser would generate a buzz about the farm-to-table topic and the Under the Harvest Moon affair would become an annual event.
If you're not familiar with Deneven, he's definitely worth your time to learn more about. He and his staff travel in their red and white bus to bring the farm-to-table concept and belief to a selected community--even New York. If you're not familiar with the Justus Drugstore restaurant, and you live in Kansas City, it's worth the drive up north to Smithville for the dining experience. Almost everything on their menu is acquired from local growers and producers.
"Our mission is to re-connect diners to the land and the origins of their food, and to honor the local farmers and food artisans who cultivate it. Join us in the field for an amazing dining experience."
Maybe some day his selected crew will come to your town to celebrate with your local farmers and chefs to share a remarkably planned meal on the most incredible table you don't see everyday in your dining room.
- Artisan House | Los Angeles
Artisan House is an establishment that offers the finest dining and market ingredients crafted by people who care about the source, quality and taste of what is presented to our customers.
What Is An Artisan Food Producer?
An artisan food producer produces a product that is essentially given the label of artisan food. These food items are thoughtfully prepared with minimal use of a piece of kitchen equipment. For example, a loaf of bread made from scratch--no processed packaged ingredients. This type of product is basically a thing of the past since most of us purchase our loaves of bread in the store regardless of its contents.
A true artisan food producer places genuine focus on each ingredient going into something being made for a prospective customer. For example, if an egg is being used, where did the egg come from? The human hands are used to create a food product made from fresh ingredients, keeping in mind that the artisan also wants to know where that fresh ingredient came from.
You will see some vendors use the marketing phrase of "artisan" included in the product name as a method of persuasion to dine at a specific restaurant.
Although "sustainable agriculture" is not a brand new term to society, the subject was covered by Congress in the Food, Agriculture Conservation, and Trade Act (FACTA) of 1990, otherwise known as the Farm Bill. This law defines sustainable agriculture as "an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will, over the long term:
- satisfy human food and fiber needs;
- enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agricultural economy depends;
- make the most efficient use of nonrenewable resources and on-farm resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls;
- sustain the economic viability of farm operations; and
- enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole."
This is an important term to be aware of because it involves food production for our needs whether that food product comes from another state or is grown in your local area. There is more information pertaining to this subject at the USDA link below under "Resources."
We live in an era where many of us are health conscious. As such, running to the grocery store to pick up the canned corn off the shelf is a habit some of us want to break. Instead, we now go to the local city market to grab our fresh fruit and vegetables, and even flowers. We may become more familiar with who our local growers are and establish a trust with their produce. It's also not as likely to have all the extra ingredients a processed food item may contain.
What Does Free Range Mean?
Free range basically means farm animals are not pinned up and have a much wider range to roam around on looking for their food. Chickens, for example, are permitted to roam freely on a larger area of land. It's defined as a more humane form of treatment. This term is more applicable to chickens than cows or pigs. The chickens aren't overcrowded in a small area confined by chicken wire. So what's the benefit of having "free range chicken" listed on a menu?
Farmers who raise free range chickens can qualify to have their chickens labeled or certified as free range under the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) that is part of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Part of the approval process includes (1) whether the farmer has used any hormones; (2) whether the chickens do roam freely outside; (3) whether the chickens are administered antibiotics; and (4) whether they have a vegetarian diet.
While the process the farmer has to go through to become a certified meat producer may seem not complex at all, it can appear to be arduous because of the documentation process that is required.
This video relates to the Athenaeum Hotel in Chautauqua, New York where farm-to-table is practiced.
- IFOAM | About the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM)
About the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movments (IFOAM)
What's the Difference Between Natural Farming and Organic Farming?
A noteworthy natural farmer and philosopher from Japan, Masanobu Fukuoka (1913-2008), developed what is referred to as "the Fukuoka Method" of natural farming. Fukuoka's philosophy was never to use any technologically advanced piece of farming machinery to work the land for planting. He believed that farming wasn't just a measure of a lot of food being produced--it was about your approach to life also from aesthetic and spiritual reflections. He held the belief of never disturbing nature. Fukuoka believed in the natural progression such as (1) no plowing; (2) do not put down fertilizers; (3) do not weed the garden; and (4) do not use pesticides. It is, perhaps, no wonder why Fukuoka lived to be 95 years old.
Fukuoka's passion and beliefs promoted that the method of natural farming could still provide an ample of food supply and prevented water pollution, soil erosion and biodiversity loss, the latter of which relates to ecological reasoning.
With organic farming, crop rotation is still deployed with the use green manure and natural composting, and a resource of biological pest control. In 1972, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) was established as a worldwide effort to promote and collect organic farming organizations. Everything promoted by IFOAM is based on its principles that embrace the basics of organic agriculture. If you think about it, if we do not sustain the health of our soils, the ability to grow food is affected which, in turn, affects people.
An Example of A Community Based Farm Located in Weston, Missouri
- Award-winning farmstead sheep's milk cheese &100% grass-fed lamb | Green Dirt Farm
Artisan sheep's milk cheese and yogurt made by hand on our Weston, Missouri farm using milk from our own gently raised, grass-fed ewes.
- Benefits and Caring Tips of Strawberries
What vitamins are in strawberries? Should strawberries be kept in the refrigerator? I remember the strawberries my father grew in his garden. It took a lot of patience for them to appear, but once they did, it was rewarding to see them!