Wednesday, July 6, 2016

"Farm-to-Table": More Than a Hipster Buzzword

When some people hear the phrase “farm-to-table,” they roll their eyes and assume that Whole Foods is trying a new gimmick to up-charge factory-free nectarines or grass-fed rutabaga. The fact of the matter is that farm-to-table is a sustainable production method which has been practiced for very nearly the entire existence of mankind. It’s true! In fact, before the Industrial Revolution pushed people into urban city settings, most people got their food locally (within 50 miles) of their home. The benefits of farm-to-table practice extend over a range of categories including economic, environmental, and health-related.

By focusing on locally-sourced produce, you are giving back directly to the community by benefiting small farmers. You’re directly impacting the economy by keeping your money where you will benefit from it the most. According to, “Local business owners are more likely to give back to your community.” Because they live in the same community, it’s only logical that they would spend the money they earned to enroll their children in local activities, or buy their clothes locally. By keeping the money in the local economy, that economy is strengthened and everyone in the community benefits from it.

On an environmental level, the amount of greenhouse gas emissions along with their link to global warming could be reduced by shifting the focus to locally-grown produce. Most food produced in the United States endures a journey of a thousand miles or more from where it was grown to your dinner plate. The more distance that the food needs to travel the more fuel is used, and the more emissions are released into the air. Not only does it diminish the quality of the food (bumps and bruises along the journey), but farmers are forced to pick their produce ahead of their optimal ripeness in order to be sure that they will survive the journey. By reducing the distance from farm-to-table, one can cut down on their carbon footprint by being more aware of where their food is coming from.

This brings me to my last point about farm-to-table, and that is the nutritional factor. When growers allow their produce to reach the optimal level of maturity, then the fruits and vegetables themselves are able to extract the maximum amount of nutrients from the soil before being harvested. Without traveling long distances, they do not need to be treated with chemicals to keep them from rotting too quickly, and they are delivered to local restaurants on average within 24-48 hours. This means that restaurants that get their food locally serve more nutrient-dense meals to their patrons.

Buying local produce is more than a marketing ploy; it’s a way to breathe life into the community and keep people educated about where their food comes from and why that matters. By becoming more conscious about the impact that buying local has, it’s becomes possible to reclaim that prosperity and pump it into local communities.

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