What is Farm-to-Table?

August 17, 2016

“Farm-to-table” is a phrase people use to describe how homes, restaurants, schools and other organizations get their food, so it’s about connecting people to where their food comes from. It includes every step a food goes through to get to people to nourish them, like animal care, crop management and transportation. Many people embrace this concept as they’re eager to learn more about where their food comes from.

Let’s explore some ways farmers get food to your table, whether the table is your dinner table or a table in your child’s school lunchroom. Here are a few examples illustrating innovative ways farms connect to your table:

Farm to Your Dinner Table

Besides your regular trip to the grocery store, a weekend visit to a farmers market is a great way to bring “fresh-from-the farm” food home. It gives you the opportunity to interact with a local farmer and ask questions your grocery story may not be able to answer. Then brush up on your culinary skills and hunt for new ways to take the seasonal bounty of the farm and transform it into delicious meals for your family. Check out the delicious, straight-from-the-farm recipes in “The Dairy Good Cookbook” – including some that are featured in my blog post for June Dairy Month.

Farm to School

The “farm to school” movement is growing across America. Through farm to school programs, many schools purchase and serve fresh, local foods in the school lunchroom. Students also have unique opportunities to learn about how food is grown and produced, how farmers take care of their land, how to tend a school garden  -- or they may take a field trip to a local dairy farm to learn where milk, yogurt and cheese comes from.

Farm to Food Banks

Food banks, like those in the Feeding America network, may work with local farmers to rescue unharvested and unsold food to package and distribute to hungry families in their area. Working through food banks, the Great American Milk Drive connects hungry families to much-needed milk from regional dairy farms by using donations to provide coupons for a gallon of milk.