After finding out that I was a professionally trained chef with a farm-to-table specialization, a friend asked me: “what does farm-to-table mean?”
There is not one single definition, for sure. For me, farm-to-table is about relationships. It starts with a new relationship with our food, what we eat and where it comes from. Farm-to-table emphasizes seasonal fruits and vegetables that improve the taste and nutrient density of the food.
It’s also about building relationships with the people who grow our food. Throughout my culinary training, I was encouraged to strike up a conversation at a local farmers’ market and build relationships with my suppliers. I took the time to learn about the food supply chain. Buying fair trade foods improves livelihoods, and buying organic produce reduces the use of pesticides, improving the health conditions for workers and eaters.
Then, after meeting Roza Ferdowsmakan, founder of the Bites foodie app, I’d like to expand my definition: Farm-to-table is also about building relationships with one another.
The Bites app (https://www.bites.mobi/) hits the trifecta of farm-to-table community building with foodies, chefs, and farmers:
As a foodie on the app, you can search for local chefs — home cooks, and professional chefs — who prepare an in-home meal with the swipe of a finger.
Chefs have an opportunity to make new contacts, both with local farmers who provide ingredients, and with local diners as new customers.
Farmers get access to new markets by working directly with chefs, and they can develop repeatable business as chefs learn more about what’s growing and how to incorporate fresh, seasonal ingredients into their menus.
In today’s world, we’ve become disconnected from what we eat. Processed meals from a box or a take-out container constitute “food,” and it’s wreaking havoc on our waistlines and mental wellbeing. These health concerns have added momentum to the farm-to-table movement.
Beyond having more awareness of what we eat, it’s possibly more significant to look at how we are eating.
How do relationships play a role in your daily diet?
Bites give us the opportunity to savor food and build community by -
Leveraging new technology to connect with others. Through Uber and Airbnb, we have seen the magic of unlocking social networks to add value to our lives. The Bites app showcase an array of chefs, each with their own stories and food specialties, that connects the local culinary community.
Exploring new food through culinary conversations. Rather than the traditional catering event where the chef and staff hide behind closed curtains, Bites brings a chef into your kitchen. The chef shares details about the food they are cooking, techniques, recipes, food sourcing, etc. It’s a culinary experience that introduces new food and fresh ideas.
Spending quality time with friends. Bites allows users to invite friends over for a dinner party with restaurant-quality food, but at a fraction of the cost, and without the background noise.
Learning about new cultures. The home cooks featured in the app introduce neighbors from diverse backgrounds with global culinary perspectives. I’ve seen home cooks offer their expertise in Indian, Persian, and Indonesian fare, among others.
The Bites community is flexible and growing, with an initial focus in the Phoenix area. It brings innovation in culinary craft, local farming, and the sharing economy that’s emblematic of the best of the farm-to-table movement.
In my opinion: relationship-based meals make eating a more enjoyable and a healthier part of our lives. I can take a bite out of that!