Clarified - farm-to-table
November 9th, 2010
02:00 AM ET
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In cooking, the process of clarification entails straining out extraneous muck from liquids so that they might be pure, clear and ideal for consumption. With this series on food terminology we're attempting to do the same.

On Wednesday, November 10th, Eatocracy is hosting its inaugural Secret Supper in Atlanta, Georgia, centered around the topic of how chefs' increasingly close collaboration with farmers figures into the preservation and evolution of Southern cooking. Take your place at the (virtual) table, by joining in the conversation and cooking along at home.

As diners become more concerned with where their food comes from and how it is prepared, the term “farm-to-table” has entered the national lexicon. Restaurants specialize in it, food and environmental activists extol its benefits and farmers markets and roadside stands live and die by it.

So what does it mean and why are we on the hunt for it?

Farm-to-table is more of a movement than a particular cuisine. At its core, “It’s a focus on eliminating as many steps as possible between where the food is grown and where it’s eaten,” says Khaled Allen, managing editor of farmtotableonline.org, a blog about sustainable and local foods.

Getting food straight from the farmer cuts out the middleman – like packagers, processing plants and commercial vendor - and assures consumers that their fare is fresh, nutritious and locally produced; something worth paying a little extra for.

Even though farm-fresh produce and meats might cost more, “You’re not spending a lot of money on travel expenses and you’re being more environmentally friendly,” says Kim Sopczyk, a nutrition community educator at Cornell University and star of From Farm to Table, a PBS show broadcast in New York’s Capital Region. You’re also keeping business in the community and supporting the local economy.

“The farm to table community is strongly of the belief that over time, once we shift more resources into a local food culture, prices will drop,” Allen says. Some food programs for low-income families already offer discounts for eating locally, like the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Women, Infants and Children Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program and Chef Michel Nischan’s Wholesome Wave, which offers a Double Value Coupon Program that doubles the value of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, when used at participating farmers markets nationwide.

Farm-to-table food offerings encompass any type of whole food imaginable, as long as it’s in season. This includes fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, cheeses and other dairy, nuts and even baked goods; just not anything processed - like that bag of chips on your desk.

Many restaurants – like Nischan’s Dressing Room restaurant in Westport, Connecticut, Dan Barber’s Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, New York, Steven Satterfield’s Miller Union in Atlanta and David Kinch’s Manresa in Los Gatos, California, among many others, build their image on farm-to-table food, focusing on seasonal varieties and changing their menu daily, according to what’s available. This gives their customers a chance to enjoy an ever-changing menu and a sampling of local cuisine.

Still, Sopczyk stresses that you don’t need to go to a restaurant to enjoy farm-to-table food. “You can make healthy meals using local produce, and it doesn’t always take a lot of effort.”

Need even more incentive? CNN and Foursquare have made it easy to find your local farmers market – and maybe even reap a little reward. Learn more about the CNN Healthy Eater badge, available at more than 6000 locations across the US.

Previously – What is a CSA?

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Filed under: Clarified • Farms • Farmstands • Local Food • Secret Suppers


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  3. Wowzer

    This woman has some very nice legs! haha

    July 14, 2011 at 12:46 am | Reply
  4. john

    The farms now are bigger than in the past because simple economics. We are not bigger because we are evil,we just modernized with the rest of society.Give up the Hollywood vision of keeping the farmer in the 1800's and you living the modern life.As for using Pollan as an expert please get toknow what he stands for,he believes the reason for obesity is that the farmer produces food to cheaply.I guess his diet plan is starvation.Kind of like Mc coffee burning me because they made it too hot.

    November 10, 2010 at 9:44 pm | Reply
  5. Carl L

    I regularly go to local farmers markets and try to buy organic as often as possible. One assumption that I think is wrong though is that the food you buy at these farmers markets always tastes better. I think it's because there are so few 'controls' at these markets results in some vendors selling old and/or bad tasting food. Like anything in life, you have to be careful who you are buying from. Just because they are some local farmer doesn't mean they won't sell you crap with a smile on their face.

    November 10, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Reply
  6. SMA

    I fully support local farmers and their amazing produce. I live in an urban city and we have amazing farmer's markets practically every day of the week and the prices are no more expensive then what I get at Whole Foods. Also, to those complaining about prices at farmer's markets...why don't you have your own garden so then your produce is free. It's not that hard and I even have one even though I live in urban area in an apartment building.

    November 10, 2010 at 1:26 pm | Reply
  7. nick

    http://eatocracy.cnn.com/2010/11/09/clarified-farm-to-table/?hpt=Sbin&replytocom=64467#respond

    November 10, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Reply
  8. Rosie

    What is the oversight agency for these farms? I have stopped buying at the farmer's market because I found (a) pesticide on my apples and (b) worms in my corn.

    November 10, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Reply
  9. Rick

    OK, so if " the farmer cuts out the middleman – like packagers, processing plants and commercial vendor " why should I pay more? Sounds like I should pay less if I buy direct and cut out all these other profit takers. I have nothing against this idea, certainly local production and consumption were paired together for thousands of years. I will even give you the transportation and fuel savings that many find important. What I do object to is the sanctimonious atitude that I see and read from many followers of this ideal. Support it all you want, but please respect others who don't choose to.

    November 10, 2010 at 8:25 am | Reply
  10. Nevada

    If you live out West, check out http://www.bountifulbaskets.org for a farm-to-table alternative. This organization has ongoing operations in many of the western states and serves as a co-op for produce. You purchase your $15 baskets by Wednesdays for pickup (usually at a local park) on Saturday mornings. For $15, you will normally receive two medium sized laundry baskets of produce ... one basket of fruits and one of vegetables that are in season. For $15, you receive what would be about $80-$100 in produce if it were bought from your local grocer!!! A great way to stretch your grocery dollar!!!

    November 10, 2010 at 7:39 am | Reply
  11. Wayne

    It does cost more for a small farm.............The problem is not the costs but profit. These big companies buy all pesticides and chemicals in bulk and spray at will. Their crops are very, very productive as they have worked out all the bugs. Most make money five different ways........for example...almond growers harvest and sell their crop, the large operations have hullers which hull the nuts this saves them tons of money when they drop off their crop for cost. They then sell firewood on the side of trees trimmed at a quarter grand a cord. Then they sell the hulls that are process down south here and used for something else. After harvest they rent their corporate equipment out at a profit to the small farms that cannot afford hundreds of thousands of dollars for harvest equipment.

    Not only can you not make these deals or contacts as a small farmer but the large farms have reduced the price so much that a small farm cannot make it. To simplifly it just look at prices for almond land. Around here a hundred acres is a small farm.........................a hundred acres is worth approximately one million dollars. See the problem. I cannot buy forty acres for five hundred thousand dollars then even think about competing with other operations. The system has been propped up too long and virtually all our food comes processed from corporations. Its sad but true. The farms on the cartons of milk and products no longer exist like everything these days its just for show.

    November 9, 2010 at 5:17 pm | Reply
  12. Brenda

    ""the term “farm-to-table” has entered the national lexicon."" This is nonsense, this term has only just entered the liberal lexicon and is the only reason its on liberal CNN. People in the midwest have been eating from their gardens/farms for years (without any press release)...but only in the liberal coasts and liberal cities scattered throughout the country (Madison, WI, Austin, TX, etc...) is it getting press...always with the caveat of "it may cost a bit more, but is better". I guarantee you no one in the midwest is gouging patrons at restaurants or farmers markets. They are selling their stuff like they always have, at fair market value. Stop the subsidizing of these price gougers.

    November 9, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Reply
    • Ed

      Even at a modestly sized farmer's market there is inherent price competition amongst the farmers. Arguably a model "free market" all by itself. By your line of thinking you should embrace such a thing. In terms of differences with a supermarket, first some things are locally produced there to begin with. Secondly when you buy tomatoes at a supermarket there are usually several different price options. Vine ripened are more expensive in the supermarket and are a better comparison than the cheaper, bland, rubbery tomatoes that you seem to prefer. That, however, is your perogative and that is the essense of what a free market does. If farmer's markets are over priced they will not suceed, then so be it. Who is the one that's really being myopic?

      November 9, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Reply
  13. Brenda

    Do you believe it when McDonalds says their product is better than Burger King? NO. And why is this?? Its because they are a big corporation trying to sell you something, trying to convince you their OPINION is correct...hence, all the commercials. This is no different. You fools only believe it because it is from a "harmless, little family farm" or a "small, non-chain restaurant"....that makes all of you gullible and easily deceived because you "assume" a non-commercial entity would not lie, cheat or steal because they are more like you than a corporation and you believe what they are telling you. This IS NONSENSE and you shouldn't allow your local farmer nor a local restaurant to price gouge you. You are being fraudulently used by these people. You should be angry with them, not supportive.

    November 9, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Reply
    • displeased

      I believe it because I actually do taste better quality in fresh picked veggies. I learned this from experience, not advertising. My home-grown tomato taste much better than any tomato I buy in the store.

      November 9, 2010 at 12:56 pm | Reply
    • AZ Gal

      I know the beef and bread and tomatoes I get from the farmers market taste better than anything I get from BK or McDs. Just Sayin.

      November 9, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Reply
    • CollardGreen

      I dont eat at burger king. Ever looked at where their beef comes from?

      November 9, 2010 at 6:47 pm | Reply
  14. Brenda

    Please people, on my island is a 5,000 acre tomato farm. yes their stuff is "mass produced" but it tastes IDENTICAL to the smaller farms because it grows in the same soil, with the same fertilizer, with the same methods....Everyone here has convinced themselves that local is better...its is just not true....a fair amount of my l"ocal" is what you people are saying is "bad, mass produced produce"...30% of any drugs effect is placebo...i'm guessing you people are tasting the same thing.

    November 9, 2010 at 12:33 pm | Reply
    • displeased

      But isn't that 5000 acre tomato farm local to you? If they are picking their tomatoes ripe, then they're probably being use in canning. If they ship them as fresh tomatoes, then they'll pick them before they're ripe, and by the time they arrive to the store's shelf, they'll be pale, hard, and tasteless. But the beauty is, we can all eat what we want.

      November 9, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Reply
    • ec

      Yeah, but if those tomatoes were picked green and shipped 1,000 miles, they would taste pretty crappy.

      November 9, 2010 at 1:03 pm | Reply
    • AZ Gal

      @Brenda. Those tomatoes grown on your island are probably the ones that show up in my supermarket. Picked too early and allowed to "ripen" on the truck here. They get here and are pale and hard and taste like tomato flavored water. Bleh. I paid twice the price for heirloom tomatoes at the farmers market from just outside town. OMG. SO GOOD. Soft, juicy, sweet and tasted just like the ones that grew in my back yard when I was a kid. Worth EVERY cent. You get what you pay for!

      November 9, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Reply
  15. Mark L

    What about all the people whose job it is to bring this produce to market the old way? I agree is better for the enviornment but it is NOT better for the economy. This movement is putting people out of work.

    November 9, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Reply
    • Mark L

      Oh, and alot of the produce you see in the supermarket is actually from the small farms. Its not all magically grown on some huge farm in the midwest. The small farmers sell to a vendor who picks it up and then packages it for distrubution.

      November 9, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Reply
      • AZ Gal

        In my supermarket, my grapes come from Chile, my oranges from Australia, and even my pre-sliced produce comes from Mexico. At least when I buy from the farmer's market I know my money is being used to support farms in this country.

        November 9, 2010 at 4:22 pm | Reply
  16. WomenOnGuard

    Unfortunately all the farmer's markets around where I live, are not open to the public. And honestly, I don't trust a little stand by the street to have safe food because they don't have to go through inspections....

    November 9, 2010 at 11:37 am | Reply
    • AZ Gal

      That's to bad. Some of the best food comes with some dirt from the field on it and not in hermetically sealed packages.

      November 9, 2010 at 4:27 pm | Reply
  17. Ryan

    The "environmental benifit" is not as black and white as people think. Studies have shown that a small inefficient farm that is located nearby can actually have a larger carbon foot print per unit of food delivered to market, as opposed to a giant efficient farm located further away. Just food for thought.

    November 9, 2010 at 11:10 am | Reply
    • Brenda

      The liberals who believe local small farms are better for the environment will not be convinced by your logic. They would rather a small farmer chug away with a 30 year-old, inefficient tractor spewing out diesel fumes than a big farm with a new, larger piece of equipment that spits out the same amount of diesel fumes yet plows/discs 4 times the amount of land. They are so myopic they can't look past what they want to believe.

      November 9, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Reply
      • CollardGreen

        What about those that don't use tractors?? Ever think of that?

        November 9, 2010 at 6:44 pm | Reply
      • Nate

        Dont label all liberals that way. I certanly dont think that way, and i am as liberal as you can get.

        November 10, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Reply
  18. NE Eater

    Well, I've tried organic and conventional, local and imported and there is no choice.
    I buy strictly organic fruits and veggies, and only meats from animals never treated with growth hormone, antibiotics, steroids, etc and are open pasture. I have found local meat producers who adhere to these standards (farmfresh.org or eatwild.com are good resources). My meats are never subjected to the antibiotic fattening process right before slaughter, and don't get processed via ammonia washes or irradiation.
    I do this because I notice personal changes in my own health as my diet has changed. I believe that some people's bodies are more attune to what is put into them. I consistently take the lowest dosage of any medications, prescribed or over the counter, because I notice changes at doses most people do not feel.
    By a simple change from conventional/chemical to organic and local (where you can find out exactly what pesticides are used by the farmer – like neem oil instead of some Dow or Monsanto or Bayer synthesized chemical) I have been able to cut down or eliminate prescription medications I've taken for years.
    Not everyone will notice a difference, which is fine with me. The most important aspect of this whole discussion IMO is not that everyone should eat local or organic (although I think it is beneficial to all). The key is that we live in what is supposed to be a free market economy, where consumer choice drives markets, and where transparency in production methods is a key element for consumer's decision making processes.
    I find it ludicrous that corporations that benefit from our consumer markets so greatly spend millions of dollars opposing legislation requiring them to know and label where the food they are selling us is sourced from, and what chemicals and seed sources have been used in the manufacture of those goods. I disagree on principle with the government protecting industry by suppressing the information provided to consumers making purchasing decisions. That is socialist, fascist, whatever you want to call it – in a word, that is un-American.
    In summary, I purchase from local suppliers and from Whole Foods stores because that is the only way that I can obtain true and accurate information relative to the manufacturing process. I would gladly buy from any national or international monolith if they would stop hiding behind vague labeling practices and provide me with the information I want to make my purchasing decisions.

    November 9, 2010 at 11:09 am | Reply
    • Nate

      I would bet dollars to doughnuts that your improved health is due to the placebo effect, plus mabey you generaly started to eat healtier/leaner foods (that could have been purchaced at the evil wal-mart)

      November 9, 2010 at 12:00 pm | Reply
  19. Ed

    To all those who take issue with the local food promotion. Clearly not everyone lives in an area where ther is local agriculture and the the farm to table concept doesn't pretend to be a solution for everyone. However, is selling produce locally can make the difference between a small farm being sustainable and keeping good land in production versus being turned into another subdivision then there are both short and long term benefits to us all.

    November 9, 2010 at 11:09 am | Reply
  20. Gary

    The AmpleHarvest.org Campaign (www.AmpleHarvest.org, highlighted on CNN Heroes in May 2010) brings this concept to the needy in the community.... enabling local growers with more produce than they can use, to easily find a local food pantry eager for the excess harvest.

    It offers a healthier food at the food pantries, reduces food waste (and methane emissions at trash dumps), lowers the carbon foot print of the food available, and more importantly, enables local growers to help the needy by reaching into their backyards instead of their back pockets. And it costs nothing.

    November 9, 2010 at 10:44 am | Reply
  21. Red

    Quaint ideas, but it'll never fly for 350 million people.

    Ya'll better wash that local produce well, as it is probably MORE likely to have e-coli and pesticides.

    November 9, 2010 at 10:34 am | Reply
    • displeased

      No pesticides if it's organic. The only E.Coli outbreaks I've read about were from corporate farms. But yes, you should wash your veggies regardless the source.

      November 9, 2010 at 12:10 pm | Reply
      • Nate

        Actualy, the FDA classifications for Oragnic alows for the use of certain pestisides and herbicides, and they are FAR more dangerous than the ones used by large conglomerates

        November 9, 2010 at 12:18 pm | Reply
      • RDavis

        Nate (not sure why there's no reply button for your post, I'll have to reply to the previous one in the thread instead), would you care to specify exactly which of the inputs that are allowed for use in organic agriculture you think are more dangerous than conventional pesticides?

        I suspect you're going under a misconception; but your accusation is so vague that it's difficult to answer in that form. Hazardous materials are not allowed for use under organic certification programs.

        November 9, 2010 at 6:47 pm | Reply
    • CollardGreen

      I dont grow my stuff next to a stockyard so it is fine. Educate about where it comes from.

      November 9, 2010 at 6:42 pm | Reply
  22. Brenda

    THIS IS A RIPOFF OF CONSUMERS. If the cost is actually less due to lack of all the transportation costs...then why are we gouged at both restaurants and farmer's markets. This is just a glitzy propaganda campaign to justify the high cost of the food to enrich everyone from the restauranteer to the farmer. (oh, and I'm not anti farm, I grew up on one). This is just like the nonsense about "organic" foods (which have NEVER been shown to be better). Its just a way to sneak into our homes and steal a little more out of our wallets.

    November 9, 2010 at 10:31 am | Reply
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants

      Welcome to capitalist America.

      November 9, 2010 at 10:32 am | Reply
    • PenSieve

      Actually, the higher cost of the food bought directly from the farm is the result of the higher content of naturally produced product in what you eventually eat, and the fact that it was not purchased and produced in bulk. Processed and mass-produced foods are less expensive, even given the costs of transportation, largely for two reasons. 1) Corporations who mass-produce processed foods also mass-purchase the raw materials (cattle, produce, etc), which drives down the cost of the raw goods and gives them bargaining power for lower costs. This is the same principle that makes household products or electronics sold by a big-box retailer such as Wal Mart less expensive than similar products purchased from a locally owned boutique who is buying and/or producing in smaller quantities. 2) Processed filler material used in products like ground beef and canned soup is relatively inexpensive to cultivate, and adding it to food makes the raw material (the actual beef, potatoes, etc) stretch farther, which reduces the overall cost of the final product.

      By purchasing from a local farmer, you are receiving food that was not raised and purchased in bulk, and which contains no filler material. As such, the farmer is providing a unique, higher-quality product that legitimately does have a higher production cost.

      November 9, 2010 at 11:29 am | Reply
      • Nate

        I would tend to agree to some of your points, but not the entire responce.

        The single largest cause of the price difference is Logistical Concerns.

        November 9, 2010 at 11:58 am | Reply
    • CollardGreen

      From a urban farmer who sells at a farmers market. Brenda, you really soundd ignorant and have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. Go back to walmart and buy chinese garlic. Let your kids get diseased from pesticides. Dang, why can t people like you learn to read and educate yourself about things. Oh, and I am registered republican.

      November 9, 2010 at 6:41 pm | Reply
  23. Nick

    The number one reason to locally source food is taste. Large shippers grow varieties that are adapted to shipping, while local farmers often choose varieties based on taste. A lot of the climacteric fruits and vegetables simply do not taste right after they have been gassed or held in cool storage. The shelf life of local produce tends to be much longer as well. I had some local lettuce last 2 weeks in the fridge. I can't get the store bought stuff to last until the end of the week.

    November 9, 2010 at 10:17 am | Reply
    • AZ Gal

      Totally agree! One of the things I've had to deal with buying local is that in the desert, things don't have quite the natural sweetness that develops from a slow growing season. My bell peppers have a kick and the sweetest tomatoes are the littlest. I bought 2 bags of mixed greens from the stand at the farmers market (to benefit an autism group – how great is that!) A week later – they are still fresh and tasty (and more flavorful and spicier from the heat). I'm thrilled! The gallon size bag was $2.50 – about the same price as the grocery store – and its tastier and lasts longer (which means less waste!). LOVE it!

      November 9, 2010 at 4:33 pm | Reply
  24. Neel

    We reviewed a great farm-to-table restaurant here: http://3nosh.com

    November 9, 2010 at 10:12 am | Reply
    • Brenda

      Yes, review the farm to table restaurants and realize you are paying twice as much for a meal that you CANNOT tell the difference in taste. You are getting ripped off by these opportunistic businesses. I recommend you boycott them until their prices actually reflect the SUPPOSED lower cost of transportation, etc.... until then, you are letting someone sneak into your house and steal your money.

      November 9, 2010 at 10:41 am | Reply
      • Steve from athens,ohio

        Brenda, you seem to have gotten most all of what you posted wrong. Boycott local farmers, seriously? You should probably boycott posting your views, or in reality boycott shopping at supermarkets.

        November 9, 2010 at 11:27 am | Reply
      • Brenda

        I buy what is fresh, but I don't pay triple the price..its price gouging. I go to restaurants with fresh food where i'm not financially gouged for some "liberal organic local fresh nonsense". Why do I want to subsidize people who use fraud and propaganda to try and tell me their stuff is "better" when that is their opinion....just like all companies/commercial operations. "my stuff is better, buy from me"....just because they say it doesn't make it true. Just because it is a small farm and not a larger farm doesn't make it true....its just liberal touchy feely nonsense.

        November 9, 2010 at 12:35 pm | Reply
      • ec

        Brenda, I'm pretty sure you're a republican, so your propaganda comments made me laugh outloud. If you don't think chemicals are dangerous to your health, then you're right, organic is BS. I prefer to avoid the incidious diseases caused by chemicals, so I try to avoid them.

        November 9, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Reply
  25. jarvis

    In theory what you are saying sounds great, but there are a few points I strongly disagee with. You talk about supporting the local economy? Let me tell you many producers,packagers, and distributors work in " local economies" so when you say you are cutting them out is this how you are supporting them? I work with scores of small farmers everyday connecting them to chefs and restaurants nationwide that want those specialty items. If most of those small producers had to rely on "local" to make it work, they would go broke. We all have a picture of farmer jones with dirt under his nails selling a few carrots from a quaint little roadside stand. These people have families to support as well and in most cases local only won't cut it. Our company is the exclusive distributor of a wonderful local premium protein in Utah, yet we cannot get any local support from our area. This wonderful protein (elk) produced by local growers is almost 100% sold out of state. Without the work we do as distributors these local families would have a very hard and expensive task to get the money they need to stay in business. How many busy chefs have time to become purchasing agents also? Not many I know. Support local yes, but don't piss down your leg to avoid the great service that other folks do to help bring your squab from tennesee to the table in manhattan.

    November 9, 2010 at 10:07 am | Reply
    • T3chsupport

      Oh damn, then you're producing for the wrong state!
      Bring all of those tasty elk over here to Oregon, feed 'em grass, and we'll all buy them up. Oregon goes crazy for local meat, and even crazier for game.

      November 9, 2010 at 10:51 am | Reply
  26. Nate

    It is a myth that getting your food localy is enviormentaly freindly. Dont get me wrong, I am as liberal as you can get.

    An apple that is grown localy on a small (possilbly privatly owned) orchard might have a lot less miles between it and the terminus than one grown in Washington or Oregon, if you are say in Kentucky. But that truck that delivers local apples delivers, on the whole, alot less apples to the same amount of stores. The apple that comes from Washington gets delivered with ALOT more apples. So the per-capita (or per apple) enviormental cost becomes negligable.

    As for the steps between "farm and table", you usualy only have three steps: Farm to Packaging Distributor, Distributor to Store Warehousing Distributor, and Warehouse Distributor to Local Grocery store. Sometimes you can add one more distributor in there on very long journys, but that only enhances the effectiveness of the logisitcal chain.

    As for being more healthy, there is no preciveable difference between the two. The only difference might be the types of pesticides and herbicides that are used, but even then the technology behind these have come so far that it is nearly safe to directly eat the pesticide itself (most methods used in "organic" farming or small scale farming are far more dangerous, though even they properly exicuted are not that bad). As for better tasting, the truth is in the eye of the beholder.

    I am not saying that buying localy is bad. I had a neghbor who farmed as a hobby, very small scale, and sold his veggies in front of his house. I regularly bought his potatoes and squash. But don't demonize the large scale sale and production of fresh produce. It allows for a reletivly cheep way for people (especialy those with limited means) to get good food in them in a reliably non-seasonal way without having to go to the farmers market, that may be several miles away. (The closest farmers market from my house is about 60 miles away, that certanly cuts down on the enviormental freindlyness of it)

    November 9, 2010 at 10:01 am | Reply
    • Tim

      You are very confused here Nate. If you think Pesticides and herbicides are safe to eat you're a complete loon! The facts are that shipping your food across the country essentially costs 60 calories of fuel for every 1 calorie of edible food. Feel free to research that, or you can read Anything by Michael Pollan, Joel Salatin, or Wendell Barry. They will be more than happy to educate you. You state "most methods used in "organic" farming or small scale farming are far more dangerous" Seriously? Wow! So using natural methods to farm is more dangerous than pouring chemicals on our food? Please get educated!

      November 9, 2010 at 2:12 pm | Reply
      • Nate

        A rather large comment that i made is still awaiting moderation. I suppose it will never go thru. But to summize: You are wrong, and insulting people does not help anything. If it ever gets out of "moderation", please read it. If you are curious, i can paste it into an email and we can have a constructive discusison.

        November 16, 2010 at 11:38 am | Reply
  27. AZ Gal

    I live in Phoenix Arizona, a city surrounded by orange groves and when I go to my local grocery store, I notice the naval oranges have kangaroo stickers on them....they were imported from Australia (!). Now, I have nothing against Aussies and our friends down under, but really?! I can get oranges off my neighbor's tree that hangs in my yard! I now make a point to support my local farmers markets. Its neat to be able to talk to the farmer, be their Friend on Facebook and then enjoy their superior, fresh, seasonal produce on a weekly basis.

    November 9, 2010 at 9:27 am | Reply
    • Mike

      I love it! People have their priorities backwards. There's really nothing better than a good meal with fresh produce that was picked a few days ago.

      November 9, 2010 at 11:06 am | Reply
  28. Karen

    Great article! The benefits of sourcing local are HUGE. Please convince your lawmakers to pass legislation requiring labeling on all products to include origin, energy impact, and economic impact (jobs). Although you go to the local farmer's market, there are those who bring in produce from other locations and sell them along with their own farm produce. This is more common than you think, and you don't know what you're getting since they are not required to disclose where they get the stuff they're selling. We all want to buy local.....so give us the information we need to make that decision!

    November 9, 2010 at 9:26 am | Reply
    • Brenda

      The benefit is only to enrich the restaurant, the farmer, etc... there is no benefit financially to the individual consumer. In fact, if its "so much cheaper to transport" then why does it cost TWICE as much. Oh, i'm giving my hard earned money away for nothing. Its just ridiculous marking like the organic nonsense (its not more nutritious, just twice as expensive). By only buying local you are putting someone else out of work in another part of the country...This is just another touchy feely "campaign" to take more money out of my pocket for nothing. Nice try convincing me...but it didn't work

      November 9, 2010 at 10:38 am | Reply
      • Mike

        There's a difference between organic and local. Just because something is labeled organic it can still be produced in a large factory farm alongside all the things you're trying to avoid. I see that saving money is the biggest issue for you, and you obviously relate effort with money because it is cheaper to buy local, not organic, but it requires the work such as canning and preserving to really make the effort worth while. Frankly I'm willing to put in some more effort because the main reason I buy local is for quality and my health. I want to support my community. If you're only concern is to save money, and your logic is "it tastes the same!" then have fun with that.

        Mcdonalds burgers taste like meat, but it ain't just meat.

        November 9, 2010 at 11:04 am | Reply
      • LaRofromNorthAL

        You really seem to have a beef with small/local farmers making a buck in anyway other than joining the conglomerate.

        I CAN taste the difference between something raised locally & something driven across the country – often because the stuff that is shipped is grown to ship well, NOT to taste good. Local farmers very often are growing heirlooms or hybrids that taste good, mostly because they are more likely to meet the people buying their goods.

        Why do you care if we choose to spend our money on the better-tasting, higher-nutrition food anyway ? It's our money. Are you employed by Big Ag ?

        November 9, 2010 at 12:22 pm | Reply
      • yeah...

        But then... if you buy from someone across the country, you're taking money from someone local.

        Your argument makes no sense. Unless you are capable of buying from everyone everywhere, wherever you buy your food from is only going to benefit that source. You'll hurt someone by denying them your business.

        Conversely, there are a lot of benefits to buying locally: better taste most of the time, it's easier to find out how the food is grown or raised, and supporting local economy promotes growth within the community.

        November 9, 2010 at 12:33 pm | Reply
      • ec

        You're not always buying from another part of the country when you don't buy local, you're often buying from another country entirely. Ever heard of NAFTA? Also, produce that has to be shipped is done so on a truck, which uses fuel, so buying local helps the environment as well. Now, if the oil companies didn't run this country for the past 6 decades or so, we'd be shipping by train, but that's a whole other discussion.

        November 9, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Reply
      • CollardGreen

        You are correct organic produce does not have more nutrients than non organic food. However it does have no pesticides or herbicides. I pay more for my food so I am not eating pesticides and find it to be wholly worth it. Go ahead and keep eating that poison laced food.

        November 9, 2010 at 6:30 pm | Reply
    • displeased

      Brenda, I think it costs more because small organic farms aren't as efficient as the large mega-corp farms. I'd rather pay extra for spinach picked fresh that same day than for something shipped across the country. And I do believe that fresher, whether organic or not, is more nutritious. And I don't understand your philosophy of putting somebody out of a job. You would rather a large mega-corp farm survive than small farmers who contribute to your local economy?

      November 9, 2010 at 10:45 am | Reply
  29. KB

    This should cost LESS not "a little more." Cutting out middlemen, processors, etc should mean that there are fewer markups.

    This said, I live near a farm and shop there for all my produce, dairy and meat. Not everyone is so lucky. But there are more and more farmers' markets around. If the farmers will sell to the public at the same price that they sell to wholesalers, they would never have to pack up a single sweet pepper to take back to the farm....

    November 9, 2010 at 9:23 am | Reply
    • displeased

      It costs more for small farmers to cultivate, especially with organic standards, than the much larger corporate farms.

      November 9, 2010 at 10:40 am | Reply
    • Brenda

      Displeased: You are incorrect. It is not harder to cultivate a small versus large farm. It IS NOT more expensive to fertilize a small farm versus large farm. You obviously don't know anything about farming. You are believing the nonsense they are feeding you. You want to rationalize the ridiculous prices you are paying. Just go up to the farmer and give him 10 dollars and walk away if you want to support the local farmer..but don't let him gouge you with his products.

      November 9, 2010 at 10:43 am | Reply
    • displeased

      Actually Brenda, I don't pay ridiculous prices. I'm surrounded by small organic farms who compete with each other, so the prices are comparable to what we buy in the store. I volunteer to work these farms a few times a year (that also helps lower my prices). I'm fortunate to be in this area. I would probably be paying much more if I lived in a city, which I hope I will never find out.

      November 9, 2010 at 10:50 am | Reply
    • displeased

      Oh, and BTW, the farm I work on doesn't have the equipment and technology that larger farms use. We pick everything by hand, and there are no chemicals, fertilizers, or pesticides used, so the produce isn't always "pretty", but it is fresh!

      November 9, 2010 at 10:52 am | Reply
    • RDavis

      The farmer who sells by direct marketing also does the jobs of the produce manager, the market and price researcher, the shelf stocker, the checkout clerk, the cleanup crew, and pretty much everybody else otherwise involved in getting the crop to the end user. Shouldn't we get paid anything for this?

      Selling wholesale takes much less of the farmer's time; so the farmer can use that time to grow extra crops, which is supposed to make up for the lower price. Selling wholesale also doesn't require the farmer to invest in retail packaging, in market stand setups, in paying market fees, etc. Farmers who sold everything at direct market for wholesale prices would be out of business in a hurry.

      In addition, many (not all) direct marketers are producing varieties bred for best flavor and/or best nutrition. These may not be the varieties that produce the highest yield per hour of the farmers' time. And produce harvested properly ripe has better flavor and nutrition: but it also requires more careful (and therefore more time-consuming) handling, as many types of produce bruise very easily when ripe.

      November 9, 2010 at 3:43 pm | Reply
    • CollardGreen

      Um, your local family owned farm cannot sell to the wholesalers. Those are corporate farms that do that. Mom and Pop farms have a mortgage and cannot make the ends meet with wholesaler pricing.

      November 9, 2010 at 6:28 pm | Reply
  30. HHinson

    Visit your local Farmer's Market, and learn homecanning (it is really VERY easy). Farm-grown produce costs less for us than we spend at the store. Tomatoes are an excellent example. They're $1.99 per pound at the supermarket vs $8 for a 25-pound crate at the Farmer's Market. Canning them takes a couple of hours of my time on the weekend. 6 dozen ears of corn – $20. Shuck 'em and freeze.

    I also have food allergies to certain preservatives and dyes, which aren't an issue with natural products.

    November 9, 2010 at 8:52 am | Reply
    • LAB

      Thats great in theory, unless you don't have a local Farmer's Market or locally sourced grocery stores. I, as well, have allergies to preservatives in food and it makes eating from a regular grocery store very difficult. Too bad I live in an area where the culture doesn't value locally sourced produce and meats as much as it should!

      November 9, 2010 at 10:01 am | Reply
      • Christine

        I can't think of a single place or urban center that does not have some agriculture near it. If you don't have a farmers market near you because you live in an uneducated area, you can go directly to the farm itself. Also, do you live in a bubble? Are you incapable of growing your own? I'm in a hard core urban center and grow veggies and herbs. Doesn't take that much space. Look into hydroponics if you have zero outdoor space.

        November 10, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Reply
    • Huh

      The only time I ever get such good deals on farmers' market produce is if I go at the very end of the day just as everyone's packing up and leaving. Then I can get a lot for a little. Otherwise, often the price is more expensive than a supermarket's. At least that's the way in my area. We buy food from farmers' markets because it's likely to be better for us and better tasting, but as far as getting a break on the price, you have to have specific strategies. Like being the last man shopping, or going after the bruised fruits and mutated vegetables and asking for a deal.

      November 9, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Reply
      • CollardGreen

        The food is more expensive because it is higher quality. Lots of markets are turning to a policy of no price drops at the end of the day. That way you will pay the same price at the end of the day as the beginning. Way to NOT support your local farmer.

        November 9, 2010 at 5:52 pm | Reply
    • The_Mick

      In my area I've visited the various farmers and Amish markets and the prices are very high except for the independent roadside stands. It seems as if the market centers are cashing in on the-farm-is-better-than-the-supermarket idea to milk the customers when often the degree of "organic" farming is minuscule. I've even seen them placing ears of crop-dusted corn in clearly labeled "made from recycled material paper bags" to try to push the aura of "green" to the max.

      November 9, 2010 at 4:22 pm | Reply

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