The farm to table movement has become one of the most popular culinary trends in recent years, and it’s not hard to understand why when you look at how processed and chemically treated much of the food we eat has become. The fact that we live in a society focused on fast technological advancements means that we also considerably change the way that we grow, harvest, and produce our food, sometimes choosing ease of access and lower costs over the actual nutritional value and quality when it comes to what we eat.
Farm to table restaurants have surfaced as a response to growing customer concern regarding the quality of the ingredients used in their food. Farm-to-table systems focus on good quality ingredients that have been locally grown and produced. Local, sustainable agricultural projects have been created in order to supply consumer demand with organic products that are high in nutritional value as environmentally friendly alternatives to the processed foods typically found in supermarkets or grocery stores.
What Do Farm to Table Restaurants Actually Mean?
Many diners are becoming increasingly interested in locally grown, organic produce and restaurants that use local suppliers from a community supported agriculture program, so restaurant owners have been looking into switching to local produce to cater to the new consumer demand for organic, fresh ingredients. Is the term being applied too liberally by some restaurants? What makes a restaurant truly farm-to-table?
Farm to Table Systems
One of the key points of farm to table systems is that they focus on supporting local farmers and producers that grow produce organically and sell it either to restaurants nearby or at farmer’s markets in the area.
This allows customers easy access to fresh food and helps small farms and agricultural projects to function, boosting the local economy by encouraging these small businesses to thrive. To create and sustain environmentally friendly forms of local agriculture, many restaurant owners and chefs have started to plan their menus according to seasonal ingredients available from local growers and suppliers.
A farm to table restaurant will often change its menu because of the availability of the ingredients that the chef can use.
This means that the options will change from season to season but that the ingredients will always be fresh. Not only does this approach force restaurants to turn to local suppliers for most of the ingredients that they need but it also helps small businesses grow. The fact that such local growers have been encouraged to expand has made it possible for more people to access healthy food that is not too expensive to afford and that has been organically produced.
At a time when more and more people turn to fast-food dinner options because of convenience, creating healthy options that can be just as easily accessed by consumers encourages people to opt for a healthier diet by using these locally grown products.
Farm to Table Restaurants
When it comes to restaurants that have a farm to table system at their core, chefs are often able to offer seasonal dishes made from fresh, locally grown ingredients and keep the prices affordable for diners by turning to local farmers for supply and, on occasion, by growing most of the ingredients themselves.
Some restaurant owners have started to grow their own vegetables while others have decided to raise their own cattle or chickens for milk, eggs, and meat that they later use in cooking for their customers.
Obviously, the do-it-yourself approach can work great for chefs that have their own farms where to grow veggies, but it might be more difficult to implement for farm to table NYC restaurants. Still, many restaurants located in big cities have started their own herb gardens or vegetable gardens and have come up with some creative ways to do so.
You can find farm to table movement restaurants that have started gardens on rooftops or in tiny backyards just to try to cater to their customer’s needs. Restaurants that don’t have this option have turned to local suppliers instead by either approaching certain growers for the produce they need or by going to farmers’ markets to shop for their daily groceries.
Key Benefits of the Farm to Table Movement
It’s no wonder that the farm to table movement has gained popularity with chefs and consumers as it has a few benefits. Not only does it encourage community supported agricultural projects and small farmers and growers to thrive; it also helps provide a larger number of consumers with fresh, affordable produce, and helps the local communities have easy access to healthier ingredients.
There are also economic benefits to this approach and restaurants that choose to use small producers and farmers as suppliers are also helping support local businesses and the local economy. This, in turn, helps the community thrive and keeps it supplied with fresh, seasonal produce at affordable prices.
Restaurant owners and chefs that opt to shop this way may have more, smaller suppliers to deal with but they are sure that the ingredients that they receive at the beginning of service are always fresh and have not traveled hundreds of miles to get there.
This means that the fruit and veggies have been picked only hours before being delivered to the restaurant and will have a lot more flavor and a better taste than the ones traveling for hours or days to reach them.
So, locally grown organic food is not only tastier and healthier, but it is also becoming more easily accessible. Many restaurants that are striving to supply farm to table ingredients for their diners have created menus that will also be affordable to consumers. Although some extra costs will still be reflected in the price of the dishes, the fact that the supply is growing means that eating fresh is becoming more affordable as well.
Small, local farms have started to reappear in recent years because of the farm to table movement, and the number of local growers has gone up in recent years. This is great news since it seemed that these small farms were a dying breed until community supported agricultural programs started helping local growers thrive.