Farm To Table: Lessons from the Thirties

In the years before my great-grandparents’ farm was taken over by Caucasians, big and small animals, well domesticated, roamed on fields or remained in stalls and wire cages.  No one anticipated the takeover: it’s never easy to picture the imagination of those lacking empathy.  Anyhow, no more eggs.

These days the marketing rage is “farm to table,” which, as Ripert & Bourdain note jokingly in their road show, is a very silly phrase.  Because food?  Food comes from farms.  Why not instead source the food from top purveyors?  I mean: Just because a farm produces food–organic, sustainable, “natural,” whatever–it does not mean it tastes good.  It may.  It may not.

I look around at a number of restaurants that I won’t name and I see what they are charging for food.  So much of their product is inferior to what’s available on the market.  You can buy first-rate poultry from D’Artaganan, Liberty, DeBragga; great beef from Snake River, Eataly, DeBragga, Lobel’s, Citarella, Allen Brothers; great lamb from Jamison, Whole Foods (only in September when they get it from Iceland); great fish from a variety of purveyors in cities; and, great fruits and vegetables from retailers who also are wholesalers.

So, what are the lessons?

1. As Toni Morrison noted in, “Beloved”: “There was no bad luck in the world but white people. ‘They don’t know when to stop,’ she said.”

2. Don’t bother to buy local or national.  Just buy the best you can afford.  It’s not complicated.

3.  “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”  Chefs are important, but eat out fewer times at better places.  And learn to cook at home.


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