I have been active in SLOW food movement (seasonal, local, organic, whole), long before it was sexy.
We old timers have seen it all, and now we are seeing even more! Seems like everyone is farm-to-fork these days. Gotta watch out for the green washing, "Let's say we are local, but who will really know? What does it matter anyways?"
I've pondered this question for years. I know it matters? but how to explain and inspire others to do it with authenticity?
Here's one thought. What if eaters feed on more than just food? Satisfaction isn't just about quantity. If it were, surely we would have had our fill by now. Most of us have plenty of food, too much actually, but it's still not enough. What if quality plays a more important role than we think?
If satisfaction in eating also involves quality, we need to learn how to feed our bodies, minds, and souls. Our stomachs fill with food, but family, friends, and feelings feed our heads and our hearts. Food is just the vehicle that brings us together so we can feed the other parts of ourselves with conversation and connection?the way humans express our "human-ness." Cooking and eating together means meals are prepared with hands of loving grace, rather than hands of indifference. If the energy of the cook goes into the food and the energy of the food goes into the cook, maybe this makes all the difference?
Now extend those connections out to the larger community. Get to know and support the local farmers and the people who produce your food and eating becomes a largely connected and deeply satisfying experience. A piece of cheese is just a piece of cheese until you learn the story behind it. After meeting the producers and maybe visiting the farm, that cheese becomes, in a sense, richer. When we eat it, we may think about the farm, crops and animals. How's the farmer doing? Was it hard to harvest this? Is there enough water for everyone?
Experiencing these connections makes food more than just food; it becomes a meaningful relationship. By nourishing that relationship, we feed our entire being and complete the circle of satisfaction. Be open to these deeper meanings. A society that values food only by price or quantity will starve. It's the broader connections that we truly hunger for. That's why farm-to-fork is so important.
So the next time you hear "local foods" ask where is local. What farm did it come from? Anyone taking the time to present food this way will be proud to tell you all the details.
Hats off to a couple of places I have visited lately trying to do it right:
Chefs Table Dinner, Garden Court Hotel, Palo Alto
A unique dining experience on the Peninsula. Beautifully prepared and intimate dinner with paired specialty cocktails, wines, and a farm to fork menu. Chef speaks at the top of each course about his inspirations and resources. As the season goes on, I know those collaborations will get even stronger. $119 plus tax & tip and worth every penny. Next dinners June 19, July 17, Aug 21.
San Mateo County Fair
Just finished, but put it on your calendar now! I taught Eat More Vegetables and loved the effort to feature San Mateo County produce. "Rock star chefs" got background support from The Beets and The English Peas. Special guest ? Brussels Sprouts. The fair is an outpouring of local products and love. Terrific value at $10 per ticket.