by Blake Herzog
Farm-to-table living is far from a new concept. It’s how most of humanity lived for thousands of years.
After the industrial revolution inserted trains, trucks, processing plants and supermarkets into the process that made food more widely available but less healthful, a handful of chefs collaborated with local farmers to build menus showcasing the freshness and flavor of locally sourced ingredients and birthed the modern farm-to-table movement in the 1970s.
Yet the food sector has continued its march toward globalization and industrialization, and even its “fresh” fruits and vegetables are frequently transported thousands of miles away from where they originated, bearing the traces of chemicals used to keep them looking like new but with their nutrients significantly degraded.
This also contributes to global warming and other environmental calamities.
Leading your own farm-to-table life can be difficult at first, but here are a few ways to get you and your family on the road to improved health.
Know where your food comes from
Learning the countries of origin for your food can be a great wake-up call — you may be looking for imported food for special occasions, but do you really want to get all of your grapes from Chile?
Finding the source is easier with packaged food and produce but even unbundled veggies and fruits often have individual UPC labels that include, in the small print, where it was grown.
Small changes add up
Look for one food-shopping habit you can shift to a more local, sustainable source.
For example, find one or two farmers market vendors who sell phenomenal produce and resolve to buy all of your carrots and beets, for example, from their booths. Then, move on to a local butcher shop that prioritizes sustainably and ethically raised meats from within the state.
Keep educating yourself on other alternatives — you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how many options you have.
Explore CSA (community supported agriculture) options
There are many ways to support your local farmers, but one of the best is to join what’s known as a CSA, a subscription-based service in which one or more growers provide a weekly selection of just-picked crops to customers.
Their formats can vary; some offer home delivery while others bring boxes to a pickup site. In most cases you won’t have much say over which products you get. The upside is they’re at their peak of flavor and nutritional power, and you’re always discovering new ways to use them, especially the less-familiar ones. Paulden-based Whipstone Farms runs the most established CSA serving Greater Prescott, and keep your ear to the ground to find others!
Grow your own
Don’t dismiss this idea: Despite our cold winters and rocky mountain soil there is a lot we can grow here and there’s no such thing as a “black thumb.”
It often takes a little patience and education, but most backyards here can yield tasty, good-for-you carrots, radishes, corn, eggplant, garlic, peppers and much more.