In the United States, the average carrot has to travel 1,800 miles to reach your dinner table. The fact that this feat is even possible is a compliment to the growth of our nations agricultural and transportation systems, but also highlights a growing concern related to the quality of produce, creation of food deserts, and the need for more local and sustainable farming practices. More than ever, consumers are asking questions about their food; “Where and when was it grown? How far did it have to travel? Is it organic? Is it seasonal?” These questions have opened the door for many trends, from eating local and seasonally, to healthier meals focused on fresh, never frozen products. The overlapping philosophies behind these trends are linked to the developing market for farm to table style restaurants and food production companies rooted in an appreciation for anything between sustainable/biodynamic farming, organic practices, and support of the community. Farm to table refers to the stages of production, including harvest, storage, processing, packaging, sales, and consumption, and represents a movement toward shortening the distance food must travel from source to consumer. The last few years have seen a boom in farm to table companies, from the first advocates in California and Colorado to large organizations such as Bon Appétit Management Company. Today, restaurants all over the country are attempting to re-brand or emerge as a contender in this field and success is rewarded with a loyal customer base and high grossing customer tabs.
In 2015, food items connected to a specific farm are listed as the number 1 food trend for ingredients according to Restaurant.org, with 70% of Chef’s agreeing this is a hot trend. Directly related trends supporting this movement are locally sourced meats, seafood and vegetables, environmental sustainability, natural ingredients, hyper-local sourcing, sustainable seafood, and food waste reduction, all of which are on the top 10 list of trends to watch for 2015. From a food producer’s standpoint, some leeway is given where it is not for farm to table restaurants, which must be supplied directly by a farmer, and in many case the same farm the restaurant is on. Producers must simply own, represent, or highly scrutinize their ingredients from harvest to sale, as is the case with Farm to Table company, which produces organic oatmeal products. An ingredient or product need not be organic or produced sustainable for it to be farm to table, but the connotations add tremendous value.
The farm to table trend is a booming idea and represents a culmination of many current food trends, supporting an overall philosophy; the diversification of our food system, shortening of transportation for basic food commodities through local sourcing, focus on community, reduction of energy cost