What Does A Farm-To-Table Restaurant Concept Mean?

Mar 29, 2016 07:54 PM EDT | By Chandan Das

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First Lady Michelle Obama hosts Farm-To-Table lunch for First Ladies from various countries at Blue Hill restaurant after touring the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture on Sept. 24, 2010 in Pocantico Hills, Westchester County, New York.
First Lady Michelle Obama hosts Farm-To-Table lunch for First Ladies from various countries at Blue Hill restaurant after touring the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture on Sept. 24, 2010 in Pocantico Hills, Westchester County, New York.
(Photo : Hiroko Masuike/Getty Images)

When we talk about a farm-to-table restaurant, we actually refer to an eatery where the ingredients are sourced locally as far as possible. In other words, the ingredients need to be fresh and go directly from the farm to the table, passing through no or the least series of middlemen, if any.

In fact, the farm-to-table restaurant fashion is part of a larger movement to eat as locally as possible, taking benefits of fruits and vegetables available seasonally and, at the same time, concentrate on the environmental as well as cultural impacts of farming. On the whole, farm-to-table restaurants readily identify themselves, as the farm-to-table concept is considered a selling point, Wise Geek reported.

In a typical for a farm-to-table restaurant, a particular restaurant directly contracts with various farms in the neighborhood for their produce, including vegetables, fruits, and animal products. Often, restaurateurs also travel to the sites of the farms they use, with a view to meet the farmers and also inspect the environment in which the food is grown and animals are raised. On the other hand, the farmer agrees to select products as they ripen and send them directly to the restaurant. In some instances, even chefs travel to the farms during the harvest, to select the cream of the crop for their restaurants.

This system certainly has a number of advantages as the food arrives in a very fresh state, on many occasion picked only hours before delivery. Fresh food has a better quality, and the short traveling distance also enables farmers to pick foods at their peak, when they will taste the best, instead of being forced to harvest food even before it is ripe make sure that it will make the journey.

On the other hand, the farm-to-table concept also means the restaurateur should not know how the farmer raises livestock, but also the manner in which the livestock is slaughtered and processed. In the United States, it is mandatory for all meat to undergo inspection either by the United States Department of Agriculture or local state inspection. However, right now, there is a lack of adequate slaughtering and meat-packing plants working with small-scale livestock farmers to fulfill the demand for more of their meat type, for instance, grass-fed and locally raised cows, lambs, and pigs, the Thrillist reported.

Therefore, even when a chef trying to stay as local as possible, it means that even though the meat might be sourced from a small neighborhood farm, it may wind up traveling a very long way to be processed in case the rancher does not have access to the facility. Chefs who are devoted to providing their clientele with the best local products, therefore, need to take an extra step and travel to the slaughtering and processing site to ensure whether that facility fulfills the chef's criteria for quality.

At the same time, it also means that a farm-to-table restaurant will have to abide by the quotas created to prevent overfishing. Different from meat, catfish is under regular inspection by the federal government in the United States. In such case, chefs will be inclined to do away with the middleman as much as possible and purchase their fish directly from the fisher. This, however, means that the clientele is not getting farmed fish or fish caught in "poorly regulated" international waters.

Nevertheless, eating locally is also recognized as environmentally-friendly, as it generally requires lesser resources compared important food from other regions. Consequently, people are willing to pay a premium at a farm-to-table restaurant for locally sourced foods. As far as the chef is concerned, a farm-to-table restaurant can also provide a steady supply of interesting and intriguing ingredients, inspiring the chef to offer with a new menu every day to put up the food available, showing what is in the season.

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