Eating out has become something of a luxury of late. The coronavirus pandemic has, of course, led to a huge number of restaurants closing permanently, and the habits of customers have greatly altered as well.
What may have previously been a regular occurrence, dining out, especially in more high-end establishments, could now become a far less common activity. This downward trend is in marked contrast to a decade-plus of growth in the market.
The restaurant world has been aided by a raft of TV programs based around them as well as a customer base that was eager to spend a little extra to enjoy the experience of eating in rather than either taking out or simply cooking their own meals.
Like the fashion industry, Restaurants enjoy and foster trends to help keep their market fresh and exciting. One such development comes in the form of Farm to Table restaurants, which were becoming very popular up until the pandemic.
What Is a Farm to Table Restaurant?
Essentially the term farm-to-table restaurants relates to the food on your table coming from a specific farm and is very popular as part of the ongoing push for a more organic approach to dining.
It can be quite literal in terms of a farm actually comprising a restaurant, but most commonly, the use of the phrase relates to a direct relationship between a dining establishment and a specific farm that provides the ingredients for their menu.
This connection is usually considered a mark of quality and alludes to fresher produce and an overall more sustainable connection between the two, the farm and the restaurant it works with.
A farm to table restaurant may well have a very holistic and forward-thinking approach to every aspect of the dining experience, from the choice of restaurant furniture down to the way their food is sourced, and this attitude is one that certainly resonates with a significant portion of the public that comes to dine in such a location.
There are many benefits, real and imagined, to the farm-to-table ethos; here are some of the pros and cons regularly cited in this regard.
The Pros of Farm to Table Restaurants
The fact that food is locally sourced will have an impact on what’s on offer, and the menu will be seasonal, which not only means a regularly changing selection but also is a far more sustainable and environmentally friendly approach to restaurant menu selection.
There is a sense, rightly or wrongly, that farm-to-table ingredients are more nutritious, and while that should be the case, that might not always be the case. For instance, the farm that is providing the food might not always be completely ethical in its approach, some might (for instance) use pesticides, but clearly, on the whole, this isn’t likely.
The food would be fresher, and that would make it more nutritious and taste better, but it would be fairer to consider this on a case-by-case basis.
Boost the Local Economy
By opting to use the services of a local provider, there is a sense that doing so will help the surrounding economy, and that’s a fair assumption, and by securing ingredients from small independent farms, as opposed to large industrial scale holdings or big supermarkets, a farm to restaurant eatery will be beneficial to smaller businesses and farms that are not supplying big chains.
Another key positive is the overall benefits from an environmental angle. The fact that the symbiotic relationship between the farm and restaurant is a close one helps to cut down emissions from transportation, and the fresher ingredients help to avoid wastage, and in general terms, the approach to being more aware of what is being used in the preparation of a restaurant’s menu means that a chef is likely to insist on organically sourced produce in the first place.
You Know What You Are Eating
When you step into an average restaurant, you probably know very little about the food on your plate, where it comes from, how it was made/reared and how healthy it is. When dining at a farm-to restaurant location, answers to any such query are more easily answered, and as such, you can get more of an idea of how your meal started its journey from its inception to your digestion.
The Cons of Farm to Table Restaurants
Sadly some establishments have looked to jump on the trend by giving the impression, either in concrete terms or by omission, that they are farm to restaurant establishments when they are not. Customers may be so keen to show their commitment to such an endeavor that they may visit a location that is merely using the phrase to boost their business.
Generally speaking farm to restaurant locations will be more expensive, and this is because currently, food sourced by other means is cheaper to access. Similarly, some establishments may look to charge more for their food as they take advantage of the trend itself; either way, right now, the cost of eating out at a farm to restaurant establishment will almost always be more expensive than elsewhere.
Not Necessarily Organic and Could Still Use Cruel Practices With Relation to Livestock
There is an assumption that a farm that is part of a farm to restaurant partnership would be one that is progressive and ethical in its approach to produce and livestock, but that isn’t always the case, and you shouldn’t take this as read.
Farms entering into this sort of relationship are indeed likely to treat their animals more humanely, but that shouldn’t be taken for granted, and if you are keen on making sure of this fact, you can, of course, do some relevant research before you eat at a chosen restaurant.
Running a farm-to-table restaurant isn’t easy, and the overall running costs will be higher for those who run such establishments and this mainly because this approach is still very much a niche enterprise.
Those costs are partly passed down to diners, and this might work in big cities where the standard of living is higher, but a farm to restaurant location in a rural area may struggle for business, and as such, the concept is very much an urban situated one for now.