Farm to table; a phrase that typically includes the promise of serving delicious, garden-fresh foods, plus a rich aesthetic and hip atmosphere. This is a result of what is known as the farm to table movement, in which individuals are becoming more aware of and attracted to menu options that include locally grown items. This is both for remarkable taste and to build better trust between consumer and seller as to how a food item has been raised or processed.
But what does it really mean for a local restaurant to be farm to table, and does eating farm to table foods actually have benefits?
Here’s a look into what it means to be a farm to table establishment.
A local farm, designated within 100-200 miles from the organization, produces food products and conducts trade directly with buyers who want the ingredients for food to serve their customers.
The process is pretty simple. Local and naturally grown food does taste better to consumers because the fruit, veggie or animal meat is not far from its home farm. On the other side of the transaction, this exchange also economically benefits the farmers themselves.
The reality of this exchange, however, takes an incredible amount of communication from both parties, the buyer and the farmer. The production cycle of produce and product is not like conventional methods, when there is a deadline to keep things fresh and in season.
The supply chain is simply different. The quality products coming from small farm situations cannot result from mass production methods.
The United States Department of Agriculture finds this trade process that creates farm to table to be a model of ‘Food Value Chains.’ They define this as “an innovative business model in which agricultural producers, processors, buyers and other supply chain members form collaborative, transparent partnerships that intentionally attempt to combine financial success with social benefit.”
It is now easy to use online resources to track locations in the area in which establishments are serving farm to table foods. The USDA provides a Local Food Directory on their website. Their information is gathered by an Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), which then puts together reports of locations in an area that may include various farmers markets, farm to table food hubs and distribution locations.
Through services like this and websites like Local Harvest, anyone can take a good look at the thousands of farms surrounding the Tulsa area. From the AMS report, the majority of farm to table crops for the city of Tulsa come from a farm in Oaks, Oklahoma called Three Springs Farm. A Kansas farm located in McCune, called Schenker Family Farms, also contributes to the city. There are a number of family managed farms throughout Oklahoma and Arkansas that also feed into local business here.
In all, there are 20 happening restaurants in Tulsa worth a taste that put an emphasis on farm to table foods, according to TravelOK.
For example, the popular Dilly Diner, the Tavern on Brady, 116 Farmstead Market and Table and The Bramble Breakfast and Bar.
But farm to table foods are not just reserved for kitchens with a staff and chef; anyone can visit a local farmers market during the week and pick up ingredients to make their own fresh dishes. Tulsa is booming with farmers markets almost every week. To name a few, this city is home to the Downtown Tulsa Farmers Market, Pearl Farmers Market, Cherry Street Farmers Market, Wednesday Farmers Market on Brookside, TCC North Tulsa Farmers Market and OU Tulsa Farmers Market. This doesn’t include the markets located in Sand Springs and Broken Arrow.
Washington University did a study to show the major benefits of eating locally and regionally grown foods at a farm to table establishment. In summary, these foods are fresher, as many fruits and vegetables begin losing certain nutrients as soon as they are picked. These foods are seasonal, with no artificial ripening or growing. They are better for the environment, with no transportation cross-country. They preserve farmland, and promote agricultural growth. They create a community and culture that is specific to the region, or city that cannot be specifically replicated.