Imagine taking a big bite out of a sandwich to find brown lettuce, dry tasteless turkey, and squishy tomatoes. All too often delis, diners, cafeterias, and restaurants use ingredients that benefit their business financially but do not focus on the harvesting, storage, packing, distribution and consumption of the food. However, a more holistic approach to the preparing and consuming of food has been spreading across the country, and Boston is no exception.
Like many other major cities, Boston has begun to develop and grow respect for local, organic, sustainable agriculture. While some individuals grow their own food, others rely on farm-to-table businesses to get their healthy meals. Schools like Boston University, Harvard, MIT, and Emerson College have all made efforts to provide healthy and sustainable options for their students. However, it is not just the colleges and universities that are privy to the farm-to-table dining experience. City residents are showing an increasing interest in this issue, so what do we mean when we say Farm-To-Table?
Farm-to-Table, or Farm-to-Fork, refers to the consciousness and regard for safety of food harvesting, storage, packing, distribution, and consumption. Farm-to-Table is typically associated with organic farming, sustainable agriculture, and community-supported agriculture. Food freshness, food seasonality, food flavor, and small farm economics all play key roles in understanding Farm-To-Table eating. Although California is credited with bringing the trend back, Farm-To-Table lifestyles has been around for a long time. In smaller rural areas of the United States, many still rely on home grown food or local growers. Europeans still typically live on locally, organically, and sustainably grown food, which makes sense because flavors, textures, and freshness are valued as what makes a meal delicious.
The economic benefits of community-supported agriculture and food seasonality are noticeable as well: less packaging and transport distance keep costs lower for farmers and keep prices reasonable for consumers. And more than just taste and cost, the Farm-to-Table movement also serves to bridge the gap between farmers, farming, food, and consumers. Engaging the community is easy when businesses act as educators and providers of the farm-to-table lifestyle.
Bostonians have easy access to farm-to-table food with options throughout the area. Farm-to-Table businesses are some of the more recent and popular options for a taste of the farm-to-table lifestyle. Trust me, once you try local, sustainable food prepared by one of the talented chefs at one of these local eateries, you will wonder why you never tried it before. My first experience was with a Cambridge eatery in Central Square called Life Alive. I tried The Emperor, and my taste buds were overwhelmed with flavor and texture. Not only was I surprised by the quality of the food, but the ambiance of colorful walls, mason jar drinking glasses, and eclectic people really just made the experience amazing. And as a poor college kid, I was pleasantly surprised by what little I spent on a meal I genuinely loved.
I soon found that Life Alive was not the only eatery in Boston like this. Farm-to-Table businesses range from five star eateries to affordable dining. Eateries like No. 9 Park, Craigie on Main, Ten Tables (Jamaica Plain and Cambridge), and Hungry Mother (Kendall Square), all provide a great atmosphere and well-cooked, local, sustainable food for when you want fancier farm-to-table dining. If you are looking for a more inexpensive option, I would suggest Four Burgers (which has locations in Central Square and on Boylston Street in Boston) and B.Good (which has locations in Back Bay, Downtown, and Harvard Square). These burger joints offer vegetarian, pescatarian, and carnivorous options that are locally sourced, and I cannot forget to rave about b.Good’s delicious milkshakes!
Aside from Farm-to-Table businesses, local farmers markets and home gardens also make for excellent organic, sustainable, and inexpensive alternatives to grocery stores and restaurants. Boston has a series of really fantastic local farmers markets that are easily accessible and connected through the Federation of Massachusetts Farmers and the Boston Public Market Association. These markets are located all around Boston: Copley Square, Dewey Square, City Hall plaza, and Dudley Town Common. With these and with new plans to open a year round downtown public market, buying organic, local, and sustainable food is becoming an affordable and easy option for many Bostonians.
– Margo, Future Boston Intern