Farm-to-table has many meanings, but at its core, it’s a movement that connects farm fresh food directly with consumers. It fosters and supports relationships between local farmers and restaurants or households, thereby skipping the step of first sending these products to grocery stores where they sit waiting for sale.
Farm-to-table food is most commonly seen in ecoconscious and community-oriented restaurants and bistros looking to reduce their carbon footprint and source the freshest local foods possible. Instead of purchasing from food vendor giants, these restaurants benefit from buying from farmers who deliver directly after harvest. It doesn’t get any fresher than that.
Farmers who participate in these relationship reap many rewards. The most significant thing is that when working directly with the demand side, they can better allocate resources to fulfilling actual needs rather than producing a supply that may sit on grocery store shelves. Farmers also receive fair compensation as there is no middleman cutting into total profits. They also enjoy the positive promotion of their farm on restaurant menus and reviews.
The term itself sounds new, but it’s actually how we did things before grocery stores and conglomerate food vendor giants. It’s a return to farmers connecting with the community and the community playing an active role in the local food system. It is one of the best ways to truly understand where our food comes from and to teach the next generation the value of local farms.
Now, you might be thinking, “That sounds great and all, but I live in the city. There are no farms around here and I’m certainly not driving into the country in search of weekly groceries.” Well, passionate city dwellers have already solved this issue with farmer’s markets and CSAs (community-supported agriculture). Most cities have these options and buy-ins where you can sign up for weekly or monthly deliveries of local, farm fresh food straight to your door. It’s not exactly farm-to-table, but it’s certainly a step closer than going to the grocery store.