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Farm-to-Fork: A Global Look at the Slow Food Revolution

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In recent years, the term farm-to-fork, also known as farm-to-table and farm-to-market have gained prominence. Rutgers University offers a definition of the concept, referring to it as

a community food system in which there is an integration of the processes of food production, processing, distribution and consumption to enhance the environmental, economic, social and nutritional health of a particular place.

In other words, it is a concept that is strongly tied to sustainability in a specific area and a goal that each member of a community work towards or aims to achieve.

This particular concept originated in the 1970s, with Alice Waters pioneering it in the San Francisco Bay area in the United States. According to a report, Waters started it in her restaurant called Chez Panisse in Berkeley where she created food made from fresh, local ingredients. She sourced the food from her network of local growers in northern California. Her idea was to produce high quality, even artisanal type of food, completely opposite to the fast food craze.

Farm to Fork Movement- Slow Food Revolution

 

The farm-to-fork concept is oftentimes interchanged with the slow food movement, which has similar principles but started in 1989 when a group led by an Italian journalist Carlo Petrini reportedly protested the establishment of a McDonald’s restaurant in Rome. They advocated for the pleasure of good food with a commitment to (one’s) community and the environment.

Advocates of farm-to-fork agree on its various benefits, which include:

– Health benefits

Fresh food are of better quality and contain more nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants as compared to processed food. They do not include preservatives, artificial coloring or chemical compounds that are oftentimes found in processed food and may be detrimental to the health.

– Environmental benefits

Farm-to-fork has a positive impact on the environment as it decreases the carbon footprint of processing plants, factory farms and mass food production. The farm-to-fork movement also espouse organic and sustainable farming and sourcing.

Farm-to-Fork - How the Slow Food Revolution is Taking Over the World

– Economic benefits

The beauty of farm-to-fork is in its capability to revitalize the economy and help local and small farms survive.

It must be noted that both the farm-to-fork and slow food movements are not limited to restaurants. It also refers to the burgeoning of farmers’ and pop-up markets that enable individuals to purchase fresh produce directly from the source.

Related Post: So You Think You Can Farm?

Farm to Fork- A Slow Food Revolution Being Embraced by Farmers and Foodies

The farm-to-fork movement has become quite popular in recent years in several Western countries, such as in the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

In the UK, the movement has gained ground all over, from the North in Scotland to York, London, Wales, Cornwall, and more. I have actually tried two farm-to-fork restaurants that are well-known in the UK. The first one is the multi-awarded The Duke of Cambridge in Islington, North London. According to its website, it is Britain’s first and only certified organic pub. The owner of The Duke of Cambridge, Geetie Singh, has teamed up with her husband Guy Watson, the owner of the farm called Riverford in Devon to offer organic food made from ethically-sourced produce. Their menu usually changes on a daily basis based on what’s available or what’s in season.

In the heart of Cardiff, the Welsh capital, is The Potted Pig, a restaurant housed in a former bank vault. The restaurant has been established in 2011 and is offering an ever-changing menu of British food, with French and New York influence. Their menu is constantly changing and is sourced from independent and local suppliers in Wales.

At The Potted Pig enjoying the slow food revolution taking place there- Credit- Polly Cunanan

Author enjoying a meal at The Potted Pig. Image supplied.

The U.S., specifically California, is of course where the farm-to-fork movement started. In the early 2000s, the movement has reportedly become mainstream with the creation of strong linkages between restaurants and farming communities and the burgeoning of farmers’ markets, restaurant gardens, seasonal menus, among others. According to CulinarySchools.com, while farm-to-fork restaurants were initially available in Boulder, Colorado; Seattle, Washington; and Berkeley, California; now they are available almost everywhere.

In Australia, there is a strong push for the farm-to-fork movement. Landcare Australia, a not-for-profit organization is taking up the cudgels for this. According to the organization, Australian farms produce 93 percent of the food consumed in the country and it needs the continued support of the people to enable the farmers to thrive.

Farm-to-Fork - Australian farmers supply 93 percent of the country's food produce

In Canada, the federal government is keen to develop a national policy dubbed A Food Policy for Canada to address food-related issues. It has launched a national survey and a summit towards this end. Expected to be integrated in this policy is the farm-to-fork movement to address food insecurity.

In New Zealand, the farm-to-fork movement is actually integrated in its agricultural traditions where independent-owned farms have traditionally fed the population and propped up the economy.

Indeed, the movement is now turning global. Does your country or locale have similar stories of farm-to-fork movement? Let’s start a discussion.

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