What exactly IS Farm to Table?
This is what I think of when I think “Farm to Table.” A beautiful, long, rustic wood table in the middle of a garden or a farm field, or maybe even a barn. Beautifully set with arrangements of fresh-picked wildflowers or a perfectly imperfect arrangement of kale, lettuce, artichokes and radishes. There would be multiple courses served- a cheese tasting board with fresh figs, jams, and local honey, soup, fresh salad greens with edible flowers, a grass-fed beef roast with perfectly roasted vegetables, served with an amazing selection of local wines. What a beautifully romantic dinner with friends and family. Tell me you wouldn’t want to be there!?
Since the farm to table movement began, I think the description above is what many people might think of. But I think the meaning of “Farm to Table” has become a bit distorted over the years. It used to, as the name suggests, mean harvesting and using ingredients from your farm to prepare a meal for family and friends. Now, whether it’s seasonal vegetables, fresh eggs, or livestock, people like the idea of eating farm-fresh and it has turned into somewhat of a buzzword. Since less and less people owns farms, it often refers to any of the following:
- Buying from a local farmer’s market– while we grow many things in our garden, we still love going to our local farmers market about once a week. It’s a great way to get fresh food, meet people in your community, and support local farming families. Plus, they may grow certain vegetables that you do not.
- CSA program– I used to think this stood for Crop Sharing Association, haha, but it actually means Community Supported Agriculture. Farmer’s who participate in this will offer a certain number of shares to the public. You purchase a share, and every week or so you go pick up a box or have it delivered full of whatever is in season at “your” farm. This is a fun way of eating fresh, locally grown food, trying new produce and recipes, and supporting nearby farms.
- Farm-to-Table Restaurant– these restaurants usually take pride in the relationships that they have developed with local farms versus getting their food through a supply chain. This usually means getting 1st choice of the fresh, often daily, ingredients from “their” farms. They typically have seasonal or ever-changing menus, depending on what is available, and try to serve simple and fresh gourmet dishes to highlight the quality of the food. Find a link at the bottom of this page to a very blunt Vanity Fair article I find interesting on the over-use of Farm to Table among restaurants…
So what will it mean for you and I?
Well, once the 1st local fruits and vegetables are ready, I’ll be taking some of our favorite ingredients from our own gardens to provide you with both single recipes and full menus designed around eating fresh. Will I have to fill in with farmer’s market produce? Probably, and I think that’s ok!
What about meat? We do buy free range chickens that are butchered and kept in our freezer from a farm about 40 mins away, but when that runs out we do buy chicken from the grocery store. I would love to raise meat chickens one day, but we’re just not there yet. My husband and our family/friends hunt and fish too, so we also keep venison, pheasant, wild boar, elk, salmon, walleye, etc. in the freezer when it’s available.
For milk and eggs, since we do not have a cow or laying hens, we use Oberweis Dairy delivery. They service much of the midwest, offering dairy, eggs, and other breakfast products. We like them because glass bottles of milk and a couple dozen eggs show up like clockwork each week, but mostly because they do not use cows that have been treated with growth hormones (plus the farms they use have to allow their herds to graze the fields when the weather permits). I am not a stickler on many things, but I’ve read waaaaaayyyyy too many articles linking early puberty in young girls to the hormones in milk. Is it 100% true? I don’t know, but recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone doesn’t sound like something I want in my kids’ bodies.
Alright, check our “Farm to Table” and “Recipes” sections soon for all sorts of ideas on what to do with all those veggies, fruits, herbs and meats! Hopefully we’ll get a few dinners together like this:
Vanity Fair Article:
“Farm-to-table has honorable origins. When Alice Waters started listing the names of farms on the menu of Chez Panisse, it was to remind people that food really did grow on farms. Waters wanted to re-establish the link between the seasons of the year and the food she served, and she wanted to credit everyone who produced every part of the meal. Read on…”