Recently I read a lovely blog post detailing how the blogger grew a banana tree in her home, her trials and tribulations and the sweet fruit (pun intended) the family finally tasted after all the effort. Nice! A close friend of mine makes sure she gets up early enough ‘every’ Sunday to go to the farmers market and spends a good couple of hours there; says this weekly trip not just helps stock up, but also rejuvenates her. A colleague frets about her balcony herb garden like people do for their pets when going away on a vacation. And my mom’s bags are ‘always’ full of seeds for vegetables that she wants to try growing at home. Never mind if they are too exotic or delicate for the extreme weather condition of her part of the world: central India, but she gets them, labors over them and often succeeds. I have tasted her successes. And they taste sweet.
Produce fresh from a farm, big or small (in the suburbs or a balcony garden) tastes different, tastes more wholesome, if you know what I mean. I can still taste the farm fresh breakfast I had in the pleasant November chill two years ago at a small cafe in Jackson City, a small town about an hour away from Sacramento, the capital city of arguably the most beautiful state in USA: California. As I was writing this post, recalling the name of the cafe took some mind bending (finally remembered that it was called Rosebud Cafe), but my taste buds clearly, still, remember the vegetarian meal I had there – a wholesome platter of vegetables (bell pepper, tomato, onions) atop golden brown hash browns, topped further by semi hard jack cheese with an extremely piquant salsa served on the side. The cafe followed the Farm to Fork concept and was a family run affair.
Mom (Mary Pulskamp) ran the show, one son was the chef, while her husband and two of their other children managed the farm which was only 15 minutes away. So basically every single vegetable I had on that day was sourced from just about 5 kms away. Wow! As I ate all that goodness, I had a long chat with Mary. She told me that the family had been farming for pleasure and relaxation and selling the produce to locals for past seven years. But about a year ago, both she and her husband realized that they were the happiest when on the farm, so they took early retirement from their jobs and opened this cafe. “Now our happiness has doubled as we are serving our farm’s goodness to so many people,” she told me.
I remember writing about the cafe extensively (I was way too enamored) when I came back, and now am forever on a lookout for similar fresh food experiences. They appeal to the nutritionist in me too, as they don’t just taste good, but are pretty good for us too. If we go by research, or even apply just common sense, Farm to Fork is the way to go to net maximum nutrients. Far better than the freezer burned or the pesticides laden vegetables the vendors ply us with. But well… as buying a farm doesn’t really seem to be on the cards at least for me as of now, maybe I’ll just take cue from my colleagues’ herb garden, and also begin accompanying my friend to the Sunday Farmers Market… and Mom next time I’ll borrow some of those exotic seeds from you and have a go at them too.
I really think this idea of farm to table is total brilliantness. It takes the food from ordinary to extraordinary. It satisfies, feeds, nourishes and delights far, far more. And doesn’t really take that much to replicate! Just awareness and willingness. Every small beginning counts. And the payback is huge.
Kavita Devgan is a Nutritionist, Weight Management Consultant and Health Writer based in Delhi. She will be contributing to the column Kavita’s Korner every Wednesday for this blog.
Follow her on Twitter here: @kavitadevgan