The Rise of Farm to Table

The words “farm to table” have taken the restaurant industry by storm, shifting from a mere cachet phrase to an entire movement that our culture is currently fixated on.

In its simplest definition, “farm to table” literally means that a food item was grown or raised on a farm, and was directly transferred to one’s table for nourishment, without encountering or passing through a grocery store, food distributor, or market of any kind.

Farm to table is also referred to as “locally sourced” or “farm to fork”, and is most often organic and all-natural produce, meat and dairy products.

In 2019, a large majority of consumers are focused on their state of well-being- mentally, physically, and emotionally. Health, wellness, and taking pride in one’s local community are all dominating the landscape as leading consumer trends.

The Farm to Table movement has taken the restaurant industry by storm, and traceability of ingredients has never been more important to guests.

Wherever consumers purchase and shop for food today, they are likely to find an extremely large selection of choices. From the bread aisle to the cheese counter to the produce section, food options, selections, and suppliers are more diverse than ever.

Farm to Table in Restaurants

If a restaurant’s menu is offering a “farm to table” dish, this typically suggests that the restaurant has a direct relationship with a local farm or farmer. As opposed to purchasing inventory from a supplier or a food distributor, some restaurants buy right from the farms themselves.

This type of relationship is extremely beneficial to the local community and can be positive for brand awareness for both the restaurant and the farm, making the relationship symbiotic. Consumers enjoy this type of offering as well, as they feel more “connected” to their local community, and the food they are enjoying as part of their dining experience.

Many restaurant owners and guests take pride in knowing and understanding just how their food was raised, treated, cooked, and prepared.

One top advantage of practicing the Farm to Table approach is the quality and freshness of ingredients. Farms often deliver produce, meats and dairy products within hours of being prepared or harvested. This can offer restaurants a competitive edge by advertising specials, dishes, and promotions created with farm fresh products.

Purchasing Farm to Table Goods as a Consumer

While restaurants and food service operations often have direct relationships with local farms, locating “farm to table” goods as a consumer can be slightly more challenging.

Venues such as farmers markets, greenmarkets, and community-supported agriculture are the standard avenue for bringing the farm to your own, personal table.

Inquire with your local town board, or local chamber of commerce to locate the farmers markets in your area.

Farmers markets are also an opportunity for restaurant owners to network, establish relationships with local farms, and examine the quality of the ingredients.

What Inspired the Farm to Table Movement?

The driving force behind “farm to table” methodologies center around ethical and moral principles.

The main goal and focus of the Farm to Table Movement is to increase the overall health and wellness of local communities, and increase consumer access to fresh, organic, all-natural food items.

In a recent study at Rutgers, four pillars that drive the Farm to Table Movement have been identified:

  1. Food Security: A major goal in community food systems, addressing the security of food access within a community context. Rutgers identified that food security issues most commonly arise in low-income households, so the Farm to Table Movement simultaneously aids in the development of local food systems to improve the quality of ALL food, for families of all income bases.
  2. Proximity: A closer proximity between community food systems and the people living in it increase the likelihood of obtaining fresh, high-quality ingredients for all stakeholders involved- farmers, consumers, and restauranteurs.
  3. Self-Reliance: Supporting and adopting a “farm to table” lifestyle grants local communities the independence to meet their own needs, and decreases the need for outside food vendors, or food transportation.
  4. Sustainability: Relates to the entire food ecosystem, and according to the study, includes environmental protection, ethical treatments of food and the workers who handle food, profitability, and development of local communities.

Impacting the Future

One major advantage of adopting the Farm to Table Movement is to create a lasting impact on the youth of our country, and the next generations to come.

With educational programs both at a collegiate and grade school levels, the hope is to instill knowledge and educate all age groups.

Local farmers markets seem to grow year after year, as more and more local communities take pride in this movements and begin to embrace it as a lifestyle.

It’s become clear that the Farm to Table Movement is now a cultural phenomenon, one that shows no signs of losing traction