When you sit down for a meal, are you able to identify where each food item on your plate came from? Do you know the food’s country of origin, the location of the farm from which it was grown, or the names of the farmers who grew it? For most of us the answer is generally, “no”. As consumers we have become more and more detached from the food we consume, and we generally have no idea where our food actually comes from.
Our relationship to food
When walking into a grocery store or having your food served to you at a restaurant, it may seem like the produce and food products have arrived there by magic. Of course, people know that the food presented before them has been grown by farmers, processed, packaged, and delivered to stores, but there is often a severe lack of understanding about the agricultural process. Details about how the food was grown, who grew it, and how it was harvested are often unknown by us, the consumers, and contributes to the disconnect between people and the food we purchase and consume.
Surprisingly, as prominent as this disconnect is, it wasn’t that long ago that everyone had either farmed themselves, farmed in the past, or knew a farmer. This concept of food traceability is being brought once again to the forefront of the food industry through the farm-to-table social movement.
What is the farm-to-table movement?
The farm-to-table movement promotes serving locally grown food at restaurants or any establishment where you purchase a meal. Farm-to-table means that the food on the table is coming directly from a farm instead of being sold through a distributor or grocery store. Cutting out the middleman results in the reduction of transportation emissions, as local food must only be transported a short distance in order to get to its final destination.
The many benefits of farm-to-table
Additionally, with the decreased transportation times, the produce is kept fresher than its imported counterparts and does not require any added preservatives. Sourcing produce directly from local farms ensures that the ingredients in each meal are nutritious and flavourful! Farm-to-table benefits the farmers as well, as they are able to sell their produce to restaurants for a higher profit. When you support farmers by eating out at restaurants that serve farm-to-table food, you are directly supporting your local farmers and community! Buying locally is beneficial for the economy because it keeps money within your community.
Where you can find farm-to-table
Farm-to-table can mean that the food is actually prepared and served at the farm as a special meal, community event, or fundraiser. This allows consumers to speak directly to the farmers and learn about the production of the food they consume. These events usually occur on an annual or biannual basis, unlike farm-to-table restaurants which source their food directly from local farms and serve it regularly.
There are plenty of opportunities to connect with your food at these restaurants, as restaurants which are farm-to-table are usually outspoken about the ingredients in their food and may also offer information on the farms themselves. Farmer’s markets can also be considered farm-to-table, as you are purchasing the food directly from the farmer and preparing it yourself.
There are plenty of ways to get involved with the farm-to-table movement and enjoy fresh and tasty meals! Next time you feel like eating out or purchasing fresh produce or meats, check out your local restaurants and markets which support local farmers and allow you to reconnect with the food you consume.
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