what really is farm-to-table?

I have been obsessed with Dan Barber lately, chef of Blue Hill Farm (thank you Emlyn!), after that wonderful Krista Tippet interview with him several times.

Chef Dan Barber of Blue Hill on the fallacy, or rather the inadequacy of, the farm-to-table dining ethos as a means to economic change. When done right, farms will rotate crops on different fields to be able to produce the items popular at the moment (in this case emmer wheat). Focusing on and buying only these items doesn't give the farms much breathing room. 
Standing in Klaas’s fields, I saw how single-minded I had been. Yes, I was creating a market for local emmer wheat, but I wasn’t doing anything to support the recipe behind it. Championing Klaas’s wheat and only his wheat was tantamount to treating his farm like a grocery store. I was cherry-picking what I most wanted for my menu without supporting the whole farm.
Back at the restaurant, I created a new dish called “Rotation Risotto,” a collection of all of Klaas’s lowly, soil-supporting grains and legumes, cooked and presented in the manner of a classic risotto. I used a purée of cowpea shoots and mustard greens to thicken the grains and replace the starchiness of rice. As one waiter described the idea, it was a “nose-to-tail approach to the farm” — an edible version of Klaas’s farming strategy. [...]  
Investing in the right infrastructure means the difference between a farmer’s growing crops for cows or for cafeterias. It will take the shape of more local mills (for grains), canneries (for beans) and processors (for greens). As heretical as this may sound, farm-to-table needs to embrace a few more middlemen. 
Perhaps the problem with the farm-to-table movement is implicit in its name. Imagining the food chain as a field on one end and a plate of food at the other is not only reductive, it also puts us in the position of end users. It’s a passive system — a grocery-aisle mentality — when really, as cooks and eaters, we need to engage in the nuts and bolts of true agricultural sustainability. Flavor can be our guide to reshaping our diets, and our landscapes, from the ground up.
Read the whole NY Times article here.

via {unlikely words}
photos via {google}


Post a Comment