“Farm to fork” is all the rage among foodies. Like anything trendy, it is overused and even abused. After all, it’s easy to slap “farm to fork” on a menu or on restaurant signage. Some people visit restaurants just because of their farm to fork claims.
Forget the buzzword – what is “farm to fork,” and how can one know if they are getting the real deal?
What It Means
“Farm to fork,” also referred to as “farm to table,” “locally sourced,” or “farm fresh,” means that the food on your fork came directly from the farm where it was produced.
This may seem simple, but remember the journey most food takes to your fork. It often passes through the hands of distributors, processors, and grocery stores. Some of these handlers damage the food, suffocate it in plastic wrap, freeze it, or add preservatives that detract from its quality.
Farm to fork sourcing guarantees the freshest, most in-season bite of food possible. A farm to fork restaurant usually has a relationship with nearby farmers and buys directly from them. Obviously, this is easier if there are many food farms within a convenient distance.
Benefits of Farm to Fork.
A farm to fork partnership benefits every party:
- Local farmers receive more profit from their crop without a chunk going to middlemen.
- Restaurants get quick and easy access to fresh, top-quality ingredients, including unique or specialty goods.
- Patrons are provided tasty, often organic meals made from fresh, seasonal ingredients.
- Farm to fork sourcing helps local businesses, creating an independent local economy.
- Farm to fork is good for the environment, with fewer resources consumed transporting, preserving, or packaging the food.
How Can I Tell if a Farm to Fork Menu is Legit?
A 2016 study by the Tampa Bay Times caught numerous restaurants calling themselves “farm to fork” while serving non-local or frozen meats and produce. Unlike “certified organic,” the terms are not protected or regulated. Some products in the grocery store even have “farm to fork” marked on them. This is an oxymoron — if it’s in the store, it can’t be farm to fork!
Here are some things to look for from a farm to fork restaurant:
- The menu lists the farm or farms where the ingredients were sourced.
- A farm to fork menu changes frequently, since farm-fresh ingredients come into and out of season.
The Park Cafe in Charleston, SC offers a true farm to fork menu. All ingredients are sourced from farmers and providers in Charleston and the surrounding area. The Park Cafe makes farm to fork dining as affordable as it is delicious.