The Farm-to-Table Movement
by Terry Heller
There’s a Movement going on, and the signs are appearing everywhere:
My local County Fair is edging out Fried Twinkies in favor of a cornucopia of fresh mint, peaches, peppers and other exotic California bounty bursting forth from the fairground’s organic garden. The State has even bestowed a grant to triple the size of the garden by next year and start a horticulture program for school children. The local fair is returning to a celebration of its agrarian roots!
The “Hot 10 Restaurants” in the US (according to the most recent issue of Bon Appetite) have their own organic gardens and base their nightly menus on what’s in season, what’s humanely raised, and what’s sustainably grown. You might even get fresh borage and chanterelles foraged from the forest that very morning! In the quest to find the new, restaurants are embracing the old: local, seasonal dishes so fresh you can taste each individual herb and spice.
While the United States is still far behind Europe in the quest to create self-reliant communities based on principles of simple living and self-sufficiency, America, the land of bounty, is having an awakening. No longer do we reach for a can of corn and a bag of frozen peas. We visit our local farmers’ market (in my hometown of Los Angeles, you can find one for every day of the week – at multiple locations!). We support and order from CSA farms (Community Supported Agriculture) to get vegetables delivered fresh to our homes; or we grow our own, using free city-made compost (zoo-doo, anyone?) and a little sweat equity. From farm to table, without the middleman.
The Farm-to-Table Movement celebrates local ingredients from local farmers that come directly from the field to your table. Why the celebration? It tastes better! The fresher the ingredients, the better the meal. The more local the farms, the more sustainable and better for the environment: less travel time, less energy consumption and less pollution. Add to that the bonus that small local farms tend to use more humane and environmentally friendly practices when raising free-range chickens, grass-fed beef, and organic and heritage vegetables.
So whether it’s visiting your local restaurant or farmer’s market, ordering from your local CSA, or digging up your own soil for planting, join the movement! And when you do use the middleman – check the labels, buy locally, organically and fresh for sustainable, healthy – and delicious! - eating.
For more information on how you can become part of the Farm-to-Table Movement, check out these websites:
To find Local Farmers’ Markets and CSA’s:
For issues, recipes and to take action:
For organic gardening advice, go to The Rodale Institute, with over 60 years of experience:
And visit your local community’s Solid Resources Division or Department of Sanitation for information on composting and free mulch. In Los Angeles, it’s:
Terry Heller has been an organic gardener for over 30 years, and a private caterer for the past 15. She is currently involved in planting seeds to help grow TorahTrek (as its Marketing and Development Coordinator), and on occasion has been talked in to being the head chef for TorahTrek retreats.
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