The farm to table movement is a very important concept in modern times. It is the concept behind the way we used to eat only a couple generations ago and our mass departure from it has brought bad health and planetary destruction. It wasn’t the popular way, or the new fad, that was just the way we ate. Considering how negative the effects have been on society when we lost site of eating farm to table, it is more important than ever that we reconnect with our local farms and eat local.
Quite simply it means that you are choosing produce, eggs, milk, and meat from local farms instead of from national supermarket chains. You support your local food producers and eat fresh food, picked only days ago, and not weeks ago like you might get at the local grocer. By doing so, you provide a lot of benefits for your family, your health, and your local community. Here are some of the primary benefits of being involved in the farm to table movement.
Eating Local Benefits the Community
First of all, buying local is going to help the local economy and community. How so? The farm to table movement means you buy the bulk of your food needs…your produce, milk, eggs, and meat from local farmers and ranchers. When you do this, you are helping local farmers instead of buying from corporate farmers from across the state or even on the other side of the country.
You skip the middleman and pay the farmer directly, which means they get their full cut and do not have to share profits with larger food companies or chain groceries. These small farmers need all the help they can get. You can either buy from them directly, buy through the farmer’s market, or subscribe to a CSA (community supported agriculture). I suggest reading the book The Town That Food Saved to see a lovely real world example or community transformation.
Local Food Means Healthier Food
You are eating healthier food when you eat farm to table. When you buy local produce, the fruits and vegetables are not being sprayed with nasty preservative chemicals that are designed to help them look fresh after a long journey across the country. I say “look fresh” because often times the flavor is only a shadow of what it is supposed to be, but at least they look nice, right? Local purchases allows your family to have fresh produce that contains no additives or chemicals. It also encourages you to eat more healthy foods when you realize the positive impact it has on your health and local community. When you shop the farmer’s market you tend to select healthier, less processed foods.
Eating Local Encourages Proper Animal Welfare
Supporting the farm to table movement actually makes you something of an animal activist. It allows you to buy your eggs, milk, and meat from local farms that care about quality feed, pasturing, flavor of the finished product, and not using antibiotics on their animals. When that is what the local community demands…farmers rise to meet the need and animals get much more humane treatment. They are often grass-fed and get to roam freely around the farm, so animal welfare is not a concern like when you buy from large agribusiness. Animals cannot be cared for well in factory farms, they just can’t be. But a small scale farm can absolutely treat their animals well and give them good lives and safe, clean environments to live. Read up on Joel Salatin to see just how this can all work.
There are a few different ways that farm to table can help with environment concerns. First of all, less chemicals are used when you buy fresh and local produce since it doesn’t have to sit in a truck and travel long distances. A local market for local farmers, means less trucks using a lot of fuel to get to different supermarkets and thus fewer emissions being released. You can visit the farm yourself to pick up your produce and eggs, or have it delivered through a CSA, who doesn’t have to drive far to get it to you.
You can also actually talk to your local farmers and encourage them not to use pesticides and to not feed animals GMO feed. You can supply them with your own organic compost too, if you have no use for it on your own property. Local food can be a real game changer for the environment.