The farm to table movement started as a niche European trend to a prevalent U.S. cultural movement. More and more restaurants and food vendors are switching to farm to table services.
But what is farm to table? Why are so many people getting on board, and what are the tangible benefits for restaurants?
That's what we're here to look at today. Read on to find out more about the benefits of becoming a farm to table restaurant.
What is Farm to Table?
Farm to table, also known as farm to fork or farm to plate, is a social movement centered around serving food straight from a farm to the consumer. It's prevalent in many restaurants in the U.S.
It's not just for restaurants, as many home cooks and families purchase their produce straight from their local farms. It's a framework used to uplift communities through their local agriculture.
Whether they're fruits, vegetables, milk, grain, or proteins, farm to table serves it straight to a restaurant patron or a family's dinner plate. But how does it all really work?
How Farm to Table Works
One of the most prominent features in farm to table programs is taking out the middlemen. This often refers to the transportation required to take products from industrial farms to a restaurant's doorsteps.
This doesn't mean transportation is cut out entirely in many cases. Urban restaurants need some sort of arrangement to get food from one place to another.
Many farm to table restaurants, however, often work with local farms to bring their produce straight from their location. This makes transportation much more efficient and less costly to the environment.
In short, the supply logistics are greatly simplified for farm to table restaurants and participating farms. Products no longer spend days being processed or in refrigerated supply trucks.
It takes plenty of coordination between the restaurants and their suppliers, no doubt. Customers are, however, able to enjoy meals made from fresh products this way.
Four Driving Forces to Farm to Table Systems
Rutgers University defines four succinct principles that drive farm to table systems. These principles are food security, proximity, self-reliance, and sustainability.
Let's break down each one to see how to contribute to the goal of farm to table systems:
Food security focuses on meeting individual and family food needs. Many urban areas suffer from food insecurity, and farm to table methods aim to address that.
Using this framework emphasizes local food procurement, which in turn develops local food systems. By doing so, more people will have easier access to food.
Food proximity can refer to how the transportation between farms and restaurants is much closer. We already mentioned how this improves logistics for businesses.
The shorter the proximity, the easier the access to food. It also builds stakeholder relationships between farms, restaurants, families, and other pertinent community members.
Farm to table also improves a community's overall self-reliance. This means no business is tied to corporations or larger food conglomerates.
Being able to rely on one another in a community setting is a social and economic benefit. Farm to table restaurants wants to emphasize that self-reliance through their menu items.
Farm to table restaurants are sustainable in how they obtain, transport, and serve their food. Sustainability refers to meeting current needs while providing opportunities for future generations to meet their own.
Farm to table is the pinnacle of sustainable systems. It benefits the environment, the local economy, the health of your community and reduces food insecurity.
Let's go over how those benefits work in the next section.
Benefits to Farm to Table
Farm to table restaurants enjoy a wide array of benefits from their practices, not just environmental ones. This system benefits local economies and even the health of individual families.
One of the most important elements to farm to table is the relationships. Restaurants get to build relations with their farms. The customers get to build a connection with the restaurant and the farms.
Through these relationships, you build a more cohesive local economy. This benefits the community because more money will be flowing through local channels.
Employees who work for the farms or restaurants are reaping the immediate benefits of these relationships. This generally leads to a more vibrant and healthy local economy.
The low-hanging fruit for farm to table systems is the environmental benefits, and there's a reason for that. Shorter transportation routes mean fewer carbon emissions.
Shorter trips from farms to restaurants mean fewer trucks, which leads to a smaller carbon footprint. Planes are removed altogether for transport if you're focusing on local farms.
Farms will also have greater variety in produce if they're incentivized by their communities and restaurants. This leads to healthier soils and benefits the future of the land itself.
We've heard a lot of conversations about the ethics behind corporate produce and farm systems. Things like organic farming, non-GMO plants, and free-range meat are becoming popular because of this.
Local farms generally meet these requirements, and restaurants can emphasize these points for customers. The more ethical the food is being sourced, the more assurance everyone has when consuming them.
Farm to table restaurants enjoys the benefit of having much wider variety in their menus from season to season. Farms produce different products throughout the year, meaning restaurants can adjust menus accordingly.
This means customers can enjoy different dishes and have something to look forward to each season. Restaurants can leverage this to bring in a consistent customer base year to year.
Better Overall Health
There's a prevailing fear that processed food can become less appetizing or even go bad during long transports. Farm to table restaurants can lay those fears to rest due to the shorter transport times.
Low-income communities also benefit from farm to table shops due to easier access to fresh food. Overall, these systems benefit the health of any community due to the freshness and higher quality of the ingredients.
Leveraging a Farm to Table Program
Farm to table restaurants and programs are becoming the go-to method of delivering fresh and accessible farm products to customers. Use this guide to help you decide whether going this route is beneficial for you.
Are you searching for "farm to table near me" in the Florida area? Contact us today, and we'll get you just what you need!