Farm to Table and Back Again?

Alice Waters galvanized the ‘farm to table’ movement in 1970’s Berkeley, California where her famous restaurant Chez Panisse sourced (and still sources) only local ingredients to create their praised and daily-changing plates. Today the movement has achieved national acclaim and New York City’s most fashionable restaurants, such as Blue Hill and ABC Kitchen, are bringing local farms’ produce to diners’ plates. Blue Hill has their very own farm upstate that provides ingredients for their restaurant in Manhattan. ABC Kitchen grows all of their herbs in a rooftop garden a few doors down from the restaurant, seasoning dishes with freshly picked tarragon, rosemary, and sage. The borough of Brooklyn, of course, has followed, marking their chalkboards with “sourced from upstate” and “harvested locally.” Taavo Somer’s restaurant, Isa, in Williamsburg even hosts a bee farm on their rooftop in which thousands of bees spawn the honey used in several of the restaurant’s unique and daily changing dishes.

The trend is cool, we dig, but what if you’re a farm that’s not easily accessible? I know there are certain bites I prefer to get from overseas. New Zealand, for example, is known for their delicious golden kiwifruit, Spain for their juicy and robust olives, France for their incredible cheeses. Can we still imbibe these imported delectables knowing that they didn’t come from the farm upstate? Turbana, one of the largest banana importers in the world, recently conceptualized a technique in which eaters can see and read about the exact farms that their bananas were harvested from in Colombia. QR codes will be readily available on their banana clusters so that when people scan the codes with their smartphones, they can see the date harvested, which farm the bananas were grown on, even the social projects their purchase has helped contribute funds to. To me, it sounds like an inventive way to enjoy overseas foods in a respectable and conscious way. Hopefully soon, other non-locals will follow suit, bringing Waters’ ‘farm to table’ concept finally full circle.

Curious what QR codes are, how they work, etc.? Head to’s great explanation on QR codes.

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