The Benefits of Farm-to-Table or Locally Sourced Ingredients
Enjoying farm-to-table food and local ingredients can enhance your mealtime experience. Get a taste of the farm-to-table movement and the advantages of locally sourced ingredients!
What Does Farm-to-Table Mean?
Farm-to-table — or farm-to-fork — describes a movement where food companies partner with local farmers to provide fresher ingredients and produce. Farmers sell directly to the user, such as a restaurant, to eliminate the "middleman" and reduce the time between when they grow and prepare produce and when it arrives on your plate.
The farm-to-table movement has roots dating back to 1914, when the U.S. Postal Service made it possible to ship produce directly from rural areas to urban destinations. It took off in the 1960s and '70s as a response to the packaged and processed foods that ruled in the U.S. in the 1950s.
One of the aspects that makes farm-to-table unique is the relationship it creates between the farmer and the restaurant or food provider. Many farm-to-table food providers have relationships with their suppliers that they can share with customers, which enhances the enjoyment of the food and adds a personal touch.
Locally Sourced Ingredients
Farm-to-table typically describes restaurants that source ingredients directly from a farmer, but there are other ways to enjoy farm-to-table or locally sourced ingredients. Grocery stores, farmers' markets and meal plan subscription services can also source ingredients locally to shorten the time it takes for freshly harvested produce to arrive on your plate.
Farm-to-Table FAQ: Discover the Benefits
The following questions and answers can help you uncover the benefits of locally sourced food.
1. Are Locally Sourced Ingredients Healthier?
Locally sourced farm-to-table ingredients can better hold onto the nutrients lost during shipment because it reduces the period between when produce gets picked and when it arrives on your table.
Food often gets shipped long distances before arriving at supermarkets and grocery stores. Because shipping can take a long time — especially if the delivery is international — farmers often pick unripened produce that can ripen during shipment. Doing so keeps the produce fresher for longer, but foods picked before they are ripe may have fewer nutrients than those picked when they are at peak.
Additionally, fruits and veggies continue to breathe after picking in a process called respiration. Respiration breaks down organic compounds and leads to a loss of nutrients. Warm, dry air can speed up the process. Fruits and vegetables that travel long distances from the farm to the store can be less nutritious.
2. Is It Easy to Figure out Where Locally Sourced Foods Come From?
You can learn where locally sourced foods come from relatively easily. Then, you can make decisions that maximize quality and freshness.
If you eat at a farm-to-table restaurant, ask the chef, owner or manager about the ingredients' origin. If the restaurant has a good relationship with the farmer they source from, they should be able to tell you the farm's name.
Purchasing locally sourced ingredients from a farmers' market also makes it easy to see where everything comes from, since the farmers will likely be there selling produce and other products.
If you're shopping at a grocery store, locally sourced foods often have a sticker or label displaying the farm's name and location. You can also use the food purchase resources provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to support agricultural markets in your area.
3. Is Locally Grown Food Better for the Environment?
Locally sourced food is sustainable. Because the food doesn't have to travel long distances, less gas and fuel are necessary to transport it, which can reduce carbon and greenhouse gas emissions.
With a farm-to-table approach, farmers can use fewer pesticides, fertilizers and artificial preservatives, making the growing process better for the environment and offering increased health benefits.
4. Do Locally Grown Foods Look and Taste Better?
It's no secret that the fresher the produce, the more delicious it is, and the best way to ensure freshness is to buy local food. Local food quickly gets from the farm to your plate, meaning you can enjoy fruits and veggies that are much fresher than those you often find in supermarkets. If you go to a farmers' market, you might have the chance to purchase produce someone picked that same morning.
Farm-to-table produce is also not wax-coated or otherwise preserved to maintain freshness, so you can enjoy the full sensory experience of your fruits and veggies without added preservatives.
Fresh produce also looks nicer, since it gets picked at its peak and not before ripening. Enjoy the advantages of a colorful diet when you buy locally sourced ingredients.
5. Does Buying Locally Grown Ingredients Support Local Farmers?
Buying locally sourced ingredients benefits farmers near you. More of the profits from locally sourced foods go back to farmers so they can grow their businesses — and more produce. Purchasing locally grown ingredients can also help farmers get more recognition.
6. Are Locally Sourced Ingredients More Cost-Effective?
Many people assume that locally sourced ingredients are more expensive than other fruits and veggies, but the opposite is often true. Locally sourced produce is often more affordable, since farmers do not have to pay for overseas or long-distance shipping costs. They also do not need to pay a middleman to get the food to its final destination.
Where Can You Buy Locally Sourced Ingredients?
Purchasing locally sourced ingredients can enhance your sustainability efforts and help you get the most nutritious produce possible. You can purchase locally sourced ingredients from the following locations.
- Restaurants: The most typical way to enjoy farm-to-table ingredients is by visiting a farm-to-table restaurant. These establishments source their ingredients from local farms to enhance the customer experience by providing fresh local ingredients.
- Farmers' markets: Going to a farmers' market is a delightful way to enjoy locally sourced ingredients. You can buy fresh produce, browse baked goods and discover new recipes. You can also meet local farmers and form relationships with them.
- Supermarkets: Some farmers sell produce directly to supermarkets in their area. While these fruits and veggies may not technically be farm-to-table, since there's a stop on the way from the farm to you, purchasing locally sourced ingredients from your supermarket still has many of the same benefits.
- Farm-to-table meal plans: Many people enjoy meal subscription services because they make healthy eating easy and convenient. Some meal subscription services source their ingredients locally, making it easier than ever to enjoy local food. At Fresh Meal Plan, every meal we make is farm-to-table with no preservatives or added sugars.
Fresh Meal Plan Makes It Easy to Eat Meals Made With Locally Sourced Ingredients
With Fresh Meal Plan, you can sign up for a subscription or purchase nutritious meals a la carte. Select a plan that fits your lifestyle and preferences, and choose from hundreds of rotating menu items each week to get the most out of your meals and snacks.
We believe in serving the good stuff. When you want to indulge in locally sourced ingredients at every meal, we've got you covered. Get started with Fresh Meal Plan today to taste the local food difference.