One of the biggest trends in the culinary world today is the farm-to-table movement. The farm to table concept revolves around the idea that meats and seafood should be locally sourced, along with locally grown produce while maintaining a standard of environmental sustainability. The term commonly referred to as farm to fork, has become an international movement in recent years that encourages consumers to minimize the distance their food travels before it’s eaten by buying food directly from growers. The Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture reports that apples can travel as far as 1,555 miles, and grapes and lettuce over 2,000 miles until they reach their final destinations on top of your salad or in the produce section of your local supermarket. According to the definition adopted by the US Congress in the Food, Conservation, and Energy act of 2008, the total distance that a product can be transported and still be considered a local or regional agricultural food product is less than 400 miles from its origin. Fruits and vegetables that have to be shipped long distances are often picked before they have a chance to fully ripen and absorb nutrients from their surroundings. Because local food doesn’t have to travel long distances, it is grown in order to taste better and be healthier rather than to be resilient to long travel.
Our society is constantly moving at a rapid pace, which means that we often compromise health and nutrition for the sake of convenience. However, a growing number of consumers have started to seek healthier and more environment-friendly alternatives to the processed foods that dominate the shelves of our grocery stores.
These foods, although quick to prepare, typically contain excessive amounts of sugar, fat, and sodium, and consuming them regularly can lead to health problems like cancer, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Farm-to-table emphasizes simply prepared food comprised of locally sourced, seasonal ingredients.
The farm-to-table movement serves to help local economies by supporting small local farms. Utilizing locally grown produce can help develop jobs by circulating more capital throughout the local community. Food Co-ops and/or Community Support Agriculture farms are important ways in which relationships can be built between members of the community and local farmers. Individuals can buy shares of a farmer’s eventual harvest in exchange for eggs, meats, cheeses, fresh fruits and vegetables on a weekly basis. The increase of community interaction can help motivate students (especially from low-income neighborhoods) to learn more about food production and food safety by facilitating community vegetable plots and gardens.
School cafeterias are also being more mindful about where they receive their food from; and farm-to-school movements have been under high consideration. Farm- to-school enhances the community’s connection with fresh and healthy food from local food producers by changing food purchasing and food education practices at schools of every age range. Not only do students gain access to healthy, local foods options, but they also benefit from educational opportunities like school gardens, farm field trips, and cooking lessons. Farm-to-school empowers children and their families to make wise food choices while strengthening the local economy and contributing to vibrant communities.
The farm-to-table scene is a refreshing trend in today’s hectic, technology-driven society. Today’s consumers understand the value of eating local food and seasonal ingredients. The movement brings us back to basics and encourages us to enjoy fresh, simple food by fully supporting the HBCU Preparatory Schools Network (www.hbcuprepschools.org), the 1890 Land Grant Universities, and their agriculture and STEM research while being affiliated with entrenched community organizations like The Rid-All Green Partnership (www.greennghetto.org), the mission of Gourmet Services is to propel this current trend into a lifestyle.