Farm-to-Table

I totally know that Lemons Readers visit the site to enjoy oh-so scholarly articles written by a novice nutritionist.  They click over in hopes of proofreading my end-of-semester papers and stuff.  I get that.  Furthermore, it would be a shame to have just one person, the teacher, enjoy my work.  Which is why I’ve supplied you with an article that I’ve spent entirely too much time on and hope that it shows.  It’s goooood readin’ if you want to learn about Farm-to-table foods, see what I’ve been working on today, or are desperately trying to fall asleep.  If copied/pasted to Microsoft Word, you’ll be amazed and wonder, “How DOES she write for hours upon hours and only produce two measly pages?”  Well…It’s a gift really.  

“Back in the day” the only way to enjoy cheesy scrambled eggs for breakfast was to first gather the eggs and culture Betsy’s bucket of milk.  In this day and age, we leave the farming up to the farmers because why would anyone want to wake up early to feed their chickens and shovel cow manure on their day off when they can easily hop in their Honda Civic Hybrids, drive three blocks, and exchange a few pieces of green paper for a carton of eggs and bag of shredded Kraft?  Like many practices which once were the norm; eating farm fresh eggs and drinking milk that hasn’t yet hit the pasteurizer, has become a modern rarity.  With countless stops to factories, food distributors, packaging plants, and retail stores, you’re lucky if dinner didn’t travel a distance equal to the Earth’s circumference before it hits your mouth.  Your apple may have begun growing at the orchard, but chances are it was picked premature and ripened with Ethylene gas later so that it would remain edible for the duration of transit.  Farm-to-table foods usually come from local and sometimes family-owned farms.  The farms generally use small-scale harvesting methods, value sustainable agriculture, and pride themselves on producing healthier, better quality foods for their customers.  They strive to earn consumer trust and thrive on the poor nutritional integrity shipped and mass-produced foods have recently developed.

Agricultural, technological, and industrial advances have forever changed the way society obtains food.  Efficiency is more important than ever before because when a farm is able to increase their yield (and profit margin) competitive advantage is gained and it allows the business to expand and produce even more food.  Growth of large farms cause smaller ones to go out of business or get bought out.  During this expansion, it is difficult for farms to generate safe (from foodborne illness), nutritious, and adequate amounts of food while meeting society’s ever-changing cultural demands.

Consumer demand has notably increased in complexity due to documentaries such as Food Inc. and Supersize Me.  Now not only do consumers want a can of Libby pumpkin exactly when they need it, they want it to be produced in an economically responsible, environmentally friendly, and humane way.  These films have ruffled the public’s feathers by showing bloodied and ruffled feathers of birds too fat to walk end up in McChicken Patties.  Ultimately these films aim to beg the question, “Do you know where your food is coming from and if so, are you okay with that?”  Society has slowly become aware of how dangerously powerful gigantic food companies have become, realized how unhealthy convenience foods are and sobered their desire for this food.  As of late, highly processed foods have developed a stigma that the farm-to-table industry is using to their advantage.  Like sipping Starbucks from a biodegradable cup, buying whole local food has become a trendy and almost aesthetic thing to do.  Diners who experience farm-to-table restaurants are pleased to know that they just drove by the farm where their salad’s cheese was made and that the lettuce was in the ground earlier that day.

Our class had the opportunity to visit the only on-farm cheese making facility for dairy in the state of Illinois.  Since 1859 the Ropps have been farming in McLean County, Illinois.  On site this dairy raises cows, milks them and for the past two years they’ve made, packaged, and sold homemade Jersey cheese.  Already their cheese is offered in ninety stores, eleven wineries, and four restaurants.  Ropp’s success in the cheese making business is proof that the public values avant-garde farm-to-table foods.  It may be easier, more convenient, and cheaper to buy the industrialized products that dominate grocery-store shelves, but obviously shoppers and diners still appreciate or have begun to appreciate the foods that local farms have to offer.

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One Response to Farm-to-Table

  1. Pingback: Whole Grain Bacon | Life's Lemons

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