We’ve all heard about Farm to Table. Here’s Chef Tracy’s take on why Farm to Table is here to stay and what the benefits are of keeping things simple and fresh in the kitchen.
One of the biggest trends in the culinary world has been the farm to table movement, which is about utilizing ingredients and produce that are locally sourced and seasonal. Farmer’s markets, home gardens and restaurants that have their own gardens has not just become a trend, but it has become more about changing how we live. Knowing where food comes from, how it gets to the final destination, supporting local farmers, and making healthier decisions is all part of choosing delicious, quality ingredients over the convenience of unhealthy processed foods.
Benefits of Locally Sourced Foods
According to Rita Klavinski from Michigan State University (2013), there are seven benefits to eating locally sourced foods. Choosing to purchase and consume locally sourced foods creates seasonal diversity, improves flavour, is more nutritious, supports the local economy, benefits the environment, reduces the steps between the food source and you, and your farmer or supplier can let you know exactly how your food was grown or raised.
As a chef it’s important to respect my food and a part of that respect includes knowing exactly where it comes from, how it’s grown, how it was raised, using seasonal ingredients, and wanting the food to be at its peak of being ripe. When you harvest produce at its peak you get ingredients that are both delicious and nutritious. Being able to choose locally sourced food means you are able to reduce the time from when the food is harvested until it’s on your plate. For me, I love being able to go to my own garden or the local farmers market and choose ingredients that I know have been respected. I think it’s important to serve those types of ingredients to myself, family, or friends. In my opinion, that’s the ultimate type of cooking and love you can give to others.
Farm to Table Movement
Farm to table as a concept has been around since the beginning of civilization, but as technology developed, the desire to utilize the microwave and purchase processed foods that have been mass produced and shipped across the country has drastically increased.
In the late 1960’s Alice Waters began the farm to table movement and in 1971, Chef Waters opened Chez Panisse, which is a restaurant that is focused on sustainable and locally sourced ingredients. Another Chef who is extremely involved in this movement is Chef Dan Barber. Chef Barber is the chef and co-owner of three restaurants, Blue Hill in New York, Blue Hill Café & Grain Bar, and Blue Hill Stone Barns. Chef Barber’s restaurants all utilize ingredients from their own farm and local farms. Both Chef Water and Chef Barber believe in educating others about making intelligent choices about the food we eat. The farm to table movement is about getting to know your local farmers and then building a relationship with them in order to obtain only the best ingredients for your recipe. When constructing a recipe, it’s monumental to locate and obtain the finest elements for each component of your dish.
Convenience vs Quality
With more people working chaotic hours, convenience of processed foods and fast food restaurants have not helped in the obesity epidemic. According to the Obesity Action Coalition, most Americans are overworked, overcommitted and don’t understand the consequences of fast food. Obesity has affected more than 35% of Americans and is considered a global pandemic, according to Rethink Obesity. What most don’t realize is that if we plan our meals and snacks properly we don’t have to sacrifice quality. Choosing to grow your own food, purchase from a farmer’s market, or shop intelligently from your local Whole Foods, you can prepare your meals ahead of time and then take them with you to work or school. With this easy access to delicious quality ingredients, there is no reason we, as a society, cannot make smarter choices about our food, whether it is at a restaurant or at home. The farm to table movement is not going away, it will only become more mainstream, especially with all of the education and resources that are becoming available.
Keep it Fresh and Simple
One thing I really love is taking simple and delicious ingredients and elevating the flavors. One way to do this is through roasting them. How much you roast will depend on how many individuals your serving. This recipe serves 2 people.
¼ of a fresh broccoli
¼ of a fresh cauliflower
1 Tbsp fresh parmesan cheese
1 Sprig of fresh rosemary
Pinch of kosher salt
Cracked black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Cut and clean the broccoli and cauliflower and place in a bowl
- Once vegetables are in a bowl add a tablespoon of olive oil, parmesan cheese, kosher salt, a pinch of fresh ground black pepper and toss together.
- Place broccoli and cauliflower on a sheet pan and cook for 20-30 minutes depending on your oven.
Enjoy and Keep it Fresh and Simple
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