5 Reasons Farm-to-Table is Really About History
People, including chefs, have their own definition of what they think farm-to-table means. Sometimes called farm-to-fork, the phrase is used to refer to the various processes in the food train from agricultural production to consumption. In layman’s terms, it’s how we get the food we eat, without it being processed or chemically enhanced, to our table.
Over the last few years, farm-to-table has developed as a culinary trend and selling point for new and established restaurants, but I don’t think it’s a trend. It’s just history repeating itself. Here are five reasons why:
Our country’s economy was built on farming.
The First Americans farmed and bartered for fresh produce, meats and dairy to survive and thrive. Then, with colonization, the American economy was a farm economy exporting crops to support the country and the world.
We all benefit from buying local.
What better way to show your support in your community than buying your produce, meat, dairy and other products from your local farmers market, or directly from the farm itself like White Harvest Farms . This farm is a partnership with Clara White Mission and has a special place in my heart as it is designed as a hub for fresh food options to address critical health disparities of families who live in food deserts.
It is about creativity.
Our ancestors had to be creative as there was no refrigeration, so they cooked what they had, with what they had on hand. When you purchase at farmers markets, it shows you care about your community, your family and what you are cooking. It’s a proven fact that when you purchase something fresh you think of the myriad of ways you can use your new bounty, and that involves creativity. Once on a visit to the Riverside Arts Market, I had to make a fresh bruschetta with those beautiful heirloom tomatoes, which were too colorful for me to skip.
It makes good business sense.
Restaurants work specifically with certain farms and they advertise it with catchy phrases on menus and social media. It’s good business in these times to show consumers that their food comes from a specific place. In some cases, restaurants and farms work together and the farm grows or produces items specifically for a restaurant or chef. Black Hog Farm provides pork products for restaurants across Northeast Florida with its name featured on restaurant menus like the The Soul Bistro.
It means hope for the future.
The USDA wants to grow more farms by cultivating relationships with new farmers. It is actively recruiting for new farmers, women, veterans and youth. We know how important it is to cultivate the next generation of farmers. As a community, we must all feel secure knowing there are some who want to continue the traditions of the past. It only provides hope for the future.
So the farm-to-table trend is about history, and since everything old is new again, I say bring it on. If this movement makes people think of our past, their community, creative cooking, eating out and preparing for the future, then it is a trend that deserves a movement. And I am proud it is a healthy one at that.
Want to learn more about healthy eating during National Nutrition Month? Please join the conversation on Twitter at #FLBlueChat on March 15 at 1 p.m. when we are talking #HealthyEating with nurses and nutritionists from Florida Blue, Edible South Florida , American Heart Association-First Coast and others.
Filed under: Mind/Body/Soul
Chef DeJuan Roy is a Food Network winning executive chef with over two decades of experience. DeJuan has presided over five-star kitchens, NFL catering services, and historic venues, most recently the Alhambra Dinner Theater in Jacksonville. He hopes to share his passion for fine dining and healthy eating since he firmly believes food nourishes body, mind and soul. He is married with two children and lives in historic Springfield in Jacksonville, Florida.