Farm to Table is a relatively new term coined for the Local Food Movement. Glimmers of Farm to Table actions stem back to the 1970s when famous food activist and chef, Alice Waters, opened the pioneering, locavore restaurant, Chez Panisse. Prior to Alice Waters’ influence, the American food industry wallowed in the quagmire of industrial production and synthetic fertilizer and pesticide use resulting from the high demand for capacious food quantities following WWII. Since then, the food industry has shape-shifted to smaller productions on local levels.
The Local Food Movement and Farm to Table Movement are interchangeable. Both movements champion relationships between local farmers and their patrons. With these food movements, food shopping becomes an engaged conversation about sustainable farming practices and best uses for novel vegetables rather than tedious and expedient trips to grocery stores.
These food movements are further promoted by the Community Food Enterprise, which conducts research studies that reveal the numerous positive outcomes of buying locally grown food. For example, by bringing farm fresh food directly to the table, the middleman (a.k.a. grocery store) is eliminated. This simple act enables farmers to build trust with their customers. It further enables farmers to provide the freshest and best quality produce, because food picked that morning can be served on the table the same day. Whereas, industrial practices require farmers to pick produce before ripened and to ship produce to grocery stores 1500 miles from their farms. As a result, grocery store customers purchase lackluster and less nutritious food. Lastly, buying local food regenerates the local economy by keeping the money cycling through local hands.
Like-minded consumers around the country are finding creative ways to promote Farm to Table practices. For example, Farm to Table Pittsburgh recently hosted its annual convention. The event brought together farmers, restaurateurs, chefs, and consumers from Western Pennsylvania by offering displays, demonstrations, lectures, and food tastings centered on the Farm to Table theme. At this event, some farmers spoke of integrating the farming practices of their grandparents with the scientific insights of modern times. Other farmers such as Emily Stevenson from Pleasant Valley Farm in Tionesta, PA proudly proclaimed a return to horse-drawn plows and the practice of germinating heirloom seeds as a way of bringing back local, quality food to customers.
At the same time, the creative, grass-roots organization, Outstanding in the Field, annually takes a red tour bus around the country to farms espousing the Farm to Table philosophy. Professionals of Outstanding in the Field create ambiance at each farm by setting up and hosting dinner events between the public, local farmers, and premiere local chefs. Their mission is to promote conversation and intimacy between the local food producers and the local food consumers through a magical evening together.
There are other Farm to Table organizations peppered throughout the country that are actively bridging disconnections between food consumers and the propagation of their food. With the attitudinal tides shifting toward buying local, the Farm to Table Movement is ripe for growth.
*Farm image from New Hampshire Made
*Table image from Remodalista