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What is Farm To Table?
Farm to table is a phrase that tends to be thrown around a lot, but not many people understand what it really means. In fact, it has a different meaning for different people.
However, at its best, farm to table simply means the food on the table came from a specific garden directly without undergoing any processing, market, store, or middleman.
- Other names
Other terms have also been created to mean farm to table, including farm to fork, locally sourced, and farm-fresh.
But that is just a general meaning of this phrase. In its purest, honest form, the phrase farm to table or farm fresh, means the table is literally situated at the farm, and the chefs prepare and serve the meal in the garden.
- Southeast Asian countries
These kinds of arrangements are common Southeast Asian countries where unique food recipes are passed from generation to generation.
It is only a certain family that knows the ingredients of a certain food. Since they wouldn’t want to reveal it to the outsiders, they grow the ingredients at the backyard of their restaurants. Most meat you have tasted so far went from a farm to a table.
What are the 5 steps of farm to table?
Here is how you can get your produce from farm to table in 5 easy steps:
- Grow your produce
The first step is food production, which includes growing, taking care of the produce on the farm, harvesting the crops or rearing livestock, milking, and fishing.
If you are raising livestock for meat, there are many ways you can do it to ensure that the anima matures healthily. You can just let your animal loose on fields or put it into a feedlot.
Plants are easy to produce, just find a garden and grow the ingredient you want to use for farm to table food.
- Harvest your food or slaughter your animal
When your crops are mature and ready for consumption, it is time to bring them from the farm to the store or for packaging. Depending on your garden’s size, you can either harvest your produce yourself using your hands or machinery or hire people to help you harvest.
You will need to slaughter it as soon as it has reached the right age for your animal. Just so you know, animals are usually scared or stunned before they are slaughtered to prevent them from feeling any pain. You can do this using an electric current, carbon dioxide, or a captive bolt pistol.
Remove the animal pelt in case of a goat, sheep, cow, or pig and feathers in case of poultry. It is easy to de-feather your bird as all you have to do is use the plucking machine.
Once you have removed the feathers or fur from your bird or animal, it is time to dress the carcass. This should be done with diligence to prevent bursting the guts or contaminating the carcass and risk its safety.
Not all crops mature healthily; there are those with poor quality or affected by pesticides. You want to grade them and separate the quality crops from bad ones.
When it comes to meat, grading is given depending on the size, fat, and muscle mass of the animal. Poultry is usually graded on a letter scale, mostly from A to C, based on bruising and other defects.
- Process and packaging
This stage includes cutting, cleaning the produce, packaging, storage, refining, extracting, purifying, milling, pressing, pasteurization, hydrolysis, pressing, dehydrating, heat curing, hydrogenation, and fermentation.
For large animals, you will need to cut them into sizable parts, including the sizes we are accustomed to, such as T-bone.
Debone your poultry to obtain the boneless skinless breast.
After processing your produce, it now to package them and vacuum sealed. Box your produce and get them ready to be taken to the restaurants or stores.
- Logistic, distribute, retail
The last stage is taking the packaged product to its final destination, where the consumer can now eat it.
Is farm to table sustainable?
Local food can be good for environmental, but to what extent is it sustainable? Local food production helps reduce food waste along the distribution line.
Most of the farms are well-run and organic, which means the production of crops has many benefits to the land, wildlife, and waterways.
Some local ranches are even trying to tackle the issue of increased carbon dioxide in the air by sequestering carbon in the soil.
There is no telling that when done properly, farm to table can have tremendous benefits to the environment.
- Reducing “food miles”
However, the generally held conviction that by reducing “food miles,” we reduce the transportation fuel, and in the process, reduce the emission of carbon dioxide is not entirely correct.
As it turns out, local food uses just about the same amount of fuel per weight to distribute as long-distance food.
This shouldn’t make you think twice about farm to table, as “food miles” are not the most significant contributors to carbon dioxide emissions.
Where did the farm to table start?
Farm to table emerged during the fall of processed food. Packaged foods became popular after the new methods of food processing and storage were invented in the 1950s.
Its surge continued until the 1960s when many campaigns were launched against processed food, including Campbell’s Soup Can by Andy Warhol.
In the late 1970s, a not-for-profit store called “Organically Grown” was launched in Oregon. A few years later, the Slow Food Organization was opened in Italy.
What we love about it
The main pillars of farm to table are entwined to the morals of food production. The four main principles that guide the movement are:
- Food security
The main aim of farm to table is to increase food security by moving beyond individual and family needs to broader community needs.
The concept also works on the premise that food establishments such as restaurants and stores should exist close to each other.
To empower communities that can sustain themselves in terms of food needs
Current food production should not suppress the forthcoming generation’s ability to meet its food requirements.