Food lovers unite.
You don’t need a plaid shirt, beard, and ironic expression to embrace Farm-to-Table living. Although most people; especially in larger cities like Toronto, are a generation or two removed from farm life, there’s a renewed interest in how our food is made and where it comes from. That curiosity has turned into a trend with the farm-to-table movement. What started with food made with locally sourced ingredients is gaining mainstream momentum. So what is Farm-to-Table? And can anyone do it?
Great restaurants, growers and taste.
Prior to 1910, most food that was eaten came within 50 miles of where it was grown. So farm-to-table restaurants are taking us back to the diets of the early 20th century, where it was important to “know where your food came from.” Farm-to-table chefs instead seek to prepare as much of their food straight from local farms and gardens. Europe has a long tradition of embracing local ingredients. Celebrity and trend-setting chefs in North America began embracing these philosophies primarily for tastier, fresher ingredients. Some farm-to-table chefs work closely with local farms to even ensure items are delivered shortly after being harvested.
Today, Toronto restaurants like Local Kitchen collaborate with their front-of-house staff’s own garden, 50 minutes out of the city, to provide fresh produce during the summer months. Other restaurants, like Brooklyn’s Olmsted, are part urban farm and provide produce from their backyard garden at the restaurant.
Farm-to-table is for everyone.
As they say, “fresh is best”. A main motivation for these direct relationships is the ability to acquire the best quality and freshness of the food. Although it’s convenient, many non-seasonal fruits and vegetables found at chain grocers are shipped massively long distances and are often picked before being able to fully ripen. The average consumer will always need some basic convenience items, but there are more and more ways for everyone to enjoy a bit of local produce at home too.
Things really took off with the ‘locavore’ movement. There has been a steady rise of farms working with local restaurants, farmer’s markets, and food co-ops to bring their produce to area people. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship, as farmers earn more profit being able to sell within their local market, and restaurants, markets, and co-ops get to know exactly where and how their food was treated and grown. Today most cities have more than a few active Farmer’s Markets. In the Toronto area many are seasonal, but many operate all year long.
The farm-to-table movement is a refreshing trend to see in our busy, technologically driven world. It harkens back to an age of where simple, fresh, and seasonal foods drove our diets. Farm-to-table living will only grow as more and more people realize the importance of what they put in their body, sustainability, and eating and supporting local. With Toronto being on the forefront of this movement in North America, the next big step is for more and more families and communities growing some of their own produce.
It’s an amazing time to live local.