What is Farm to Table?
In recent years, ‘farm-to-table’ has become an immensely popular term amongst foodies. In its purest form, ‘farm-to-table’ represents an ingredient that has gone directly from a farm to a consumer’s table, without being processed, stored, or sold at retail. But, as the world has come to expect this philosophy of nearly all ingredients, the phrase has taken a few different meanings. Because ‘farm-to-table’ is not legally regulated, different people interpret the idea in varying ways.
Restaurants and “Farm to Table”
The concept of ‘farm to table’ originates in the world of restaurants, where it was (and still is) used to describe a close connection between a farm and a restaurant. If a restaurant is based around a ‘farm to table’ philosophy, it generally forgoes the traditional model of buying ingredients from a wholesaler or distributor. Instead, the restaurant develops a 1:1 relationship with a farm.
This is beneficial because it provides the restaurant with ingredients that are fresher and more flavorful. The ingredients are typically harvested just hours before they are ultimately served to the patron. “Farm to table” restaurants also support the local economy — farmers can earn a greater profit on their goods by selling directly to restaurants. Many farms also offer specialty items that larger-scale wholesalers do not carry.
There are also economic benefits for both parties in the farm-to-table model. Restaurants typically guarantee that they will purchase a percentage of a farm’s crop. Meanwhile, customers are often happy to pay significantly more money for ingredients that they know are sourced from local farmers.
Consumers and “Farm to Table”
Although restaurants initially ‘led the charge’ on the farm-to-table movement, consumers have increasingly been able to take advantage as well. Today, it’s easier than ever to get locally-produced goods and food — now, even your weeknight dinner can be ‘farm-to-table’. More and more, consumers are demanding traceable, farm-fresh ingredients for their own meals.
Lowkel is one great way to find farm-to-table ingredients for your house. We are proud to connect consumers to local farmers and producers. With Lowkel, it’s easier than ever to apply the farm-to-table philosophy to your own home.
Environmental Benefits of Farm to Table
Although much of the interest in farm-to-table eating is purely for ingredient quality, it is also a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. Farm-to-table foods require fewer resources, energy, and fossil fuels to make their way to your plate.
In the farm-to-table model, long journeys on planes, ships, and trucks are not needed. Farmers’ markets and local businesses are often centrally located, as well. Because they are generally smaller than big-box stores, local businesses can exist in highly urbanized areas. This means that consumers do not need to take long drives or public transportation to buy from these businesses.
This reduction of food mileage significantly decreases the environmental impact of farm-to-table eating.
Boosting Local Economies
Supporting small, local farms also increases economic activity in local communities. With the farm-to-table model, more money flows into the pockets of local farmers, instead of large, multinational corporations. This creates a more sustainable local economy that ensures long-term viability for a community.
Incorrect Use of Farm-to-Table
As an increasingly trendy (and even mainstream) term, ‘farm-to-table’ is often misused — accidentally or otherwise. For example, food sold at a grocery store is not — by definition — ‘farm to table’. If an ingredient was not purchased directly from a farm, it is not farm-to-table. It is important to be wary of this distinction, because the term ‘farm-to-table’ is not legally defined by any US regulating body.
Read more on Is it Safer to Buy Local?