Sounds delicious, right?
I must thank my Twitter colleague @SamWithans for that gem of a title. It was some witty Twitter banter about another foodie/restaurant “trend” popping up in Charleston that produced that tweet. And while at first I laughed so hard I nearly snorted my coffee out of my nose, I suddenly realized that some of these foodie “trends” have been with us for quite a while. I then began to think of what the permanent effects these trends might have on their particular veins of the food and beverage as well as agricultural industries.
What do you think when you read the term “Farm to table?” Do you think of trendy, high society dinners set in mystical fields with Spanish moss floating among the oak trees? There may even be mason jar lamps on the table. Rest assured there is bacon on everything too.
What do I think of when I hear “farm to table?” I think of dinner in my kitchen tonight. And tomorrow night. I think of how my family, neighbors and I live our lives day in and day out. Farm to table dining is nothing new for us. It’s how we live. And it used to be how we all lived. And now only the “cool kids” are doing it, or at least, that is what is being marketed.
My main issue with romanticizing the term “farm to table” is that it partly creates a notion that eating fresh from the farm is unapproachable and expensive, when actually, it can be much more cost effective and convenient than the alternative.
Perhaps I am little overly sensitive considering I have worked both in marketing and the local SC agricultural industries since 2008. I currently serve as a Marketing and Membership Coordinator for a CSA program that my husband’s family started. My nephews have grown up eating broccoli out of their front yard.
I see day in and day out the struggles and triumphs of our local food industry from the ground up, and I firmly believe that there are two things that keep our communities as a whole from eating locally sourced, farm fresh foods: cost and convenience. I spend entire days trying to show folks that participating in our local agricultural food community can be something easy and beneficial to all parties involved. That eating food grown by your neighbor isn’t some new, radical concept with a high price tag.
I also spend my time showing our CSA members just how easy it is to incorporate fresh local produce into their every day lives. No need to spend $60 a plate on dinner when you can easily whip up something fresh and nutritious right in your kitchen every day.
I’ll admit, when the demand for Farmer’s Markets exploded in 2009 I was thrilled to be a part of it and was ecstatic at the attention my hard working neighbors were finally receiving for their years of backbreaking work. But here we are a few years later and the farm-to-table dinners are still happening, schmoozing is at an all time high and yet there is still minimal information given to the public at large about how they, too, can participate in the farm-to-table lifestyle.
Farm to table shouldn’t be an option only for those who can afford it. So let’s cut the elitism and find another way to build an agricultural community instead of dividing it at the same time.