Have you heard the words farm-to-table and wondered what they mean? The farm-to-table movement is an effort to use more locally sourced foods, purchased directly from the farmer or producer. It’s gained a ton of momentum with chefs and foodies, but what about the average eater? Let’s learn a little more about what farm-to-table looks (and tastes) like!
There are several reasons people are flocking to farm-to-table foods. The first being flavor. The fresher and more ripe a tomato, for example, the better it will taste. Since that tomato was harvested locally, it’s still at peak ripeness and flavor when it reaches you!
Believe it or not, locally grown foods not only taste great, but may also be better for you. Locally sourced produce may be more nutritious than conventional produce that is produced on industrial farms in a much larger scale. This is because those foods are grown in smaller amounts, allowing farmers to fully invest in their quality.
Plus, since that produce travels a much shorter distance, it is more likely to be sold quickly – sometimes even the same day it was harvested! This allows the produce to hold on to as much freshness and nutrient content as possible. This is where farm-to-table food can make a difference in your health. If the food we are eating is more nutritious, and we know where and how it was grown – awesome! Plus, when nutritious food tastes amazing, we are far more likely to eat it on a more regular basis.
Those local farmers and producers you buy from are working hard, not only to bring you the best product, but to take care of the environment at the same time. The farm-to-table movement also puts a big emphasis on food being grown and harvested sustainably. That means that the food and the environment it’s grown in can be upheld at a higher standard.
Eating farm-to-table is a great way to financially support your local farmers and producers, and their staff. You’re not only supporting the individual, but also those who harvest the crops, who care for the soil, and who maintain the farm equipment. The farm-to-table movement is fantastic for small businesses, and for boosting the local economy.
Sound like too large of a movement for you to take part in? There are several small steps you can take to start eating farm-to-table and contributing to your local farming community. First, make friends with some farmers!
One great place to meet local purveyors is a farmer’s market. (If you don’t know offhand of one nearby, just check the internet.) By talking with them about their products, you can learn about where your food came from, how it was grown, and maybe even get some ideas on how to best prepare it. Being able to trust the quality of the food you purchase is becoming less and less common these days, and farmer’s markets are a great way to get that trust back.
If anyone out there likes to save time and money, raise your hand. Yes, you! Shopping at the farmer’s market allows you to do both. You save money by purchasing products that are in season, and that haven’t been shipped across the country because you’re buying straight from the source. Because there is no inflated ‘greenhouse’ price, no transportation cost, and no middle man, you’re going to get the best price possible on everything you purchase. You also save time shopping at the farmer’s market by purchasing as many of your ingredients as possible while you’re there. Produce, eggs, homemade pickles & olives, fresh milk, even meats and cheeses can all be found at most farmer’s markets – a true one stop shop for great food!
When you fall in love with the products you purchased (and you will), commit to going to the farmer’s market on a regular basis. This allows you to plan your meals around those local, high quality items that are in season. When it comes to selecting those items, don’t be afraid of the unfamiliar – have an open mind! You will likely encounter foods and products at your local farmer’s market that you haven’t seen or heard of before. This is an amazing opportunity to broaden your culinary horizons. Ask questions, touch, smell, (and after asking permission, of course) taste.
You never know what you’ll fall in love with next. Don’t miss out on the local, seasonal, sustainable farm-to-table movement; there are a lot of people working hard to bring it to you. See what’s out there – you won’t regret it!