What it Means to be Farm to Table
With farm-to-table menu’s anchoring into the Cleveland food scene, it can be very exciting to hear that local establishments are taking a step towards the healthier and fresher side of agriculture. Although the term sounds fresh and invigorating, as a consumer do you know what farm-to-table really encompasses? Generally this refers to the use of locally grown produce or livestock and participating in any part of the process from seed germination to eating that beautiful heirloom tomato salad at lunch. The term actually means so much more, to so many people, and is a beautiful flashback to a simpler time in food history. What matters the most in this farm-to-table movement is the importance behind raising awareness of local sustainability.
Ohio actually has over 78,000 farms, many of which grow two staple crops, corn and soybeans. The corn is in high demand, and can be used for anything from food, to feed or even fuel, and the soybeans, among their many uses, also replenish vital nitrogen into the soil. What drives local farmers to start to grow a greater variety of food is local demand. This is beneficial for the entire movement, encouraging community support for the farms, farmers markets and to lessen the carbon foot print that food production leaves behind.
Seasonality plays a large part in this though, because we have become used to having access to pears in winter or peppers all year round, for example. Supporting the local farm-to-table establishments that are buying from local farmers and waiting for items to come into season is in exchange for knowing the farmer who raised the animals that produced milk for the fresh chevre on your cheese plate.
Do you remember what a fuzzy tomato tastes like, picked straight from the vine, still warm from the sunshine? If not, just head over to your favorite farmers market or dinner spot and you are more likely to find one this time of year-which is a wonderful thing.
Michael Pollan said it best in his support of the local farms “The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can, if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world.”