A growing movement in the restaurant industry dubbed farm-to-table dining is an old idea made new again by today’s mounting concerns about where our food comes from and how it was grown. Chefs interested in only the freshest, flavorful, organic produce are putting in gardens next to their restaurants and serving up home-grown fare on their menus. The result--customers are flocking to their doors and raving about the food.
A couple dining at the restaurant/farm, Blue Water Grill, in Grand Rapids Michigan said, "It's a benefit knowing the food you're eating is grown 20 feet from the kitchen without pesticides or artificial fertilizers."
The farm-to-table trend has many benefits for your health and the environment, including:
Locally grown – Chefs have more control over what they can offer on the menu when they grow it themselves—like heirloom vegetables versus commercial-grown plants from GMO seeds. Local also means that the vegetables or fruits are allowed to mature and ripen to their peak rather than picked early to allow for packaging and transport from a farm far away. The end result is the fresher, better tasting produce.
Local produce is also better for the environment. Flying or trucking in produce from across the country or around the world burns fossil fuels—a limited resource, and adds to pollution.
Organic – Food grown organically, in naturally rich soil have a higher nutrient content and better flavor. It also typically yields a stronger, more pest- and disease-resistant plant. And of course, you get all these benefits without pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, and other chemical residues.
Flavorful – You can beat the flavor of fresh picked, organic herbs and vegetables. As one chef put it, “A lot of our customers don’t know we grow our own produce, but when they bite into an heirloom tomato that I grew and picked that morning, they’re wowed.”
Greenscapes – in many urban areas, the restaurant gardens are also beautifying neighborhoods by providing green spaces in otherwise barren concrete landscapes.
The garden also makes a nice view from the restaurant's windows and patios. One guest gushed about their favorite restaurant garden, "The scene, the beautiful colors when everything is ripe, and the way the gardens are laid out — the beauty of how they've done it."
Plants also produce oxygen and clean the air which is good for all of us.
Higher Nutrition – Many of the above factors contribute to better nutrition:
- Locally grown often means higher nutritional value as some foods lose nutrient content in transit.
- Organic foods grown in naturally fertile soil using sustainable growing techniques produce higher vitamin and mineral content.
These benefits focus only on produce, but when you consider that some restaurants are also raising or sourcing local organic meats and poultry, the positive impact of farm-to-table dining is even greater.
The shift — both in public interest in locally grown foods and in restaurant owners growing their own — is “in a way, getting back to the right way of doing things,” said chef/restaurateur Magdiale Wolmark of Dragonfly Neo-V.
“The proliferation of processed foods in the past few decades has really been a glitch. It’s not healthy, and it’s not good for the environment. Now, we’re all getting back to a sense of normalcy.”
In Your Backyard
The farm-fresh restaurant trend is fairly wide-spread in urban and rural communities so there’s probably one near you. But if not, why not try a little organic gardening yourself. We have some tips to get started with Grow Your Own Organic Antioxidants.
New Hope 360
The Columbus Dispatch