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There is Always Hope: Farm To Table Movement

There is Always Hope: Farm To Table Movement
Farm to table movement gives us hope... Photo by Sergey Klimkin

Salsas, pizza, marinara, other sauces made from scratch. Items such as turmeric-spiced cauliflower couscous where they are lower in calories and higher in fiber than traditional rice dishes.  Menus written based on seasonability and availability of fresh product and of the region. This is the promise of a restaurant or food service that is serving its food following the Farm-to-table philosophy.

Food service for a sustainable future the ad reads. Socially and environmentally responsible manner for the health of their guests which are college campuses across the country.   First, partnering with best chefs, committing to local foodstuffs grown in the area around each of the chain members, taking on other social and environmental issues such as addressing antibiotics in meat supply and farm worker rejection rights,  and other baseline policies of what is known today as a restaurant in the Farm To Table movement.

As any good chef knows, ingredients that are the freshest will often be the ones which tastes better.  Realizing people often miss out on understanding  where their food comes from, there’s been a movement in the restaurant business to work out deals for farmers, fisheries and so on that are local to provide the food for the restaurant.  Part of this is in direct opposition to the Wal-Mart effect, in that members of the movement also want to provide menu selections that will actually put funds back into the community where the restaurant resides.

The Wal-Mart effect is that when one of those stores hits a small town, all the little mom and pop specialty stores end up going out of business.  Wal-Mart has everything in under one roof and the prices are much cheaper since there’s so many across the country. The problem is, that the community people’s money that pays for the goods,  goes out of the community to wherever the Wal-Mart owner lives.  Whereas since the single owner little store also lives in the community, that money would end up staying within the community.  The mom and pop stores help to sustain the community monetarily, while Wal-Mart sucks out the life of the town.  If it were to close up, then the town becomes a food desert and in some cases, the town cannot be sustained and the town itself disappears.

The Farm To Table movement is meant to be opposite that.  The chef and owner of the restaurant look for ways to keep the money in the community where their restaurant is located.  Among the first vocal and influential were a couple from California and one from Washington. Chez Panisse and  Bon Appétit Management Company are both in California. Since the 2000s, this restaurant has as its food sources, materials grown locally, organically and in ways that are sustainable.  There’s a network of ranchers, farmers, fisheries and dairies to help supply the food and keep the selections fresh.  It’s menu reflects the season of availability of foodstuffs.

A big part of the presentation of the meals is to be as close to fresh out of the ground as possible, so many of the fruits and vegetables are even presented as raw.  The chefs rely on traditional farmhouse cooking and sometimes their simplicity of the preparations are referred to as “peasant food” or vernacular food.

There has been a real problem in fraudulent claims of where the food has come from and how fresh it really was. There were some investigations by journalists who found that some restaurants made claims of where they got their food from and the farmer had gone out of business or died. A restaurant claiming to serve a certain type of food by a certain farmer or fisher where the food is out of season or that the fisher has never caught.  Or, the claim is made that the food is provided by a certain farmer and it makes up a trivial portion of the plate.  The rise in fraudulent claims really started to increase in 2012 according to Tampa Bay Times food critic Laura Reiley, because of the lack of time restaurants have really to deal with the farmer directly because the business is easier and less time consuming to deal with only one or two distributors. This is especially true if the restaurant is a chain where there’s several brick and mortar buildings in variety of locations.  To try to establish relations with farmers and others for each location can be a daunting task at best, and a logistical nightmare or even unworkable at worst.

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