Linked to the local food movement, the movement is promoted by some in the agriculture, food service, and restaurant communities. It may also be associated with organic farming initiatives, sustainable agriculture, and community-supported agriculture. Many farm-to-table advocates cite the works of Wendell Berry, Wes Jackson, Michael Pollan, John Jeavons, Alice Waters, Joel Salatin and others in their preference for the freshest ingredients and in their attempts to educate their customers about the link between farmers, farm communities, ancient food-production practices, and the food we eat.
Farm-to-table restaurants may buy their produce directly from farmers, usually local. In a few cases, the restaurants and farms may be owned and operated by the same people. Restaurants who choose to buy from local food producers regularly yield healthier, better quality meals for their clients.
The farm-to-table movement has arisen more or less concurrently with recent changes in attitude about food safety, food freshness, food seasonality, and small-farm economics. Advocates and practitioners of the farm-to-table model frequently cite as their motivations the scarcity of fresh, local ingredients; the poor flavor of ingredients shipped from afar; the poor nutritional integrity of shipped ingredients; the encroachment of genetically modified foods into the food economy; the disappearance of small family farms; the disappearance of heirloom and open-pollinated fruits and vegetables; and the dangers of a highly-centralized food-growing and -distribution system.
Among the first vocal and influential farm-to-table businesses were: Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, California; Jerry Traunfeld‘s Herbfarm in Washington; Blake Spalding and Jen Castle‘s Hell’s Backbone Grill in Boulder, Utah; and Stone Barns restaurant outside New York City. In the last few years the number of farm-to-table operations has grown rapidly.
Since opening in 2002 it has been named one of "America’s Top 50 Restaurants" and "best farm-to-table restaurants" by Gourmet, as one of "America’s 50 Most Amazing Wine Experiences" by Food & Wine and as "Restaurant of the Year" in 2009 by The News & Observer. Reusing is the 2011 winner of the James Beard award for Best Chef: Southeast and serves on the boards of the Center of Environmental Farming Systems and Chefs Collaborative. She has written for Saveur, Domino, Fine Cooking and Gourmet.com.
For More Information
• Andrea Reusing’s Lantern in Chapel Hill
• The Toyota Farm to Table Tour
• The Top 10 Farm-to-Table Restaurants
• Top chefs visit local tailgate markets and farms
• How the Farm-to-Table Movement Is Helping Grow the Economy