Today's world is in a rapid state of technological innovation and evolution. Sadly, at times this means compromising caliber for convenience. But the farm-to-fork movement -- presently, one of the biggest trends in the nutrition world -- stems from a completely different school of thought: one that values quality over ease and accessibility.
Built on the idea that food is best when fresh, farm to fork (sometimes called farm to table, or farm to market) encourages people to swap over-processed, modified foods for local, natural and unaltered produce, dairy and meats.
The idea of food going directly from your local farm to your local fork has several goals:
- Maintain food's natural health benefits and nutritional quality
- Improve the economic vitality of small and local farms
- Ensure the safety of our food supply
- Avoid the use of genetically modified foods and GMOs
- Encourage diversity in the types of foods available regionally
- Decrease the environmental impact and carbon footprint of factory farms and mass food production
Farm to Fork: The Big Picture
Proponents of the movement can list several benefits one might gain after embracing the change, including better health and nutrition. Usually containing inordinate amounts of sugar, sodium and fat, processed foods often lack some nutritional value; their appeal rests in their abundant availability and artificially appealing flavor.
Unfortunately, as people's schedules become increasingly hectic and convoluted, many settle for quick-fix options, such as fast food or frozen dinners.
More often than not, however, this also means placing their health and nutrition on the backburner.
Noting that it can lead to everything from high blood pressure and cancer to heart disease and diabetes, health experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and elsewhere continually warn about the consumption of excess sodium, fats and sugars, yet the message goes ignored.
College students, working parents, night-shift workers and other individuals with nontraditional schedules are more likely to fall victim to these nutrient-starved options, as healthier choices are more expensive and of limited availability.
All that's slowly changing, however, as the farm-to-fork trend continues to spread. With more communities seeing the benefit -- both environmentally and nutritionally -- of buying and eating locally, consumers are noticing more alternatives to their traditional food selection. Farmer's markets and produce co-ops are on the rise everywhere, and a growing number of farm-to-table restaurants are opting to only buy local foods from small farmers who were once a nearly extinct species but are now making a comeback.
Should You Join the Farm-to-Fork Movement?
The movement is more than an issue of nutrition and environmentalism: It's an issue of being informed and making educated decisions about the food you eat. Just like gasoline fuels a car, the food you eat fuels your body, so it should be premium, right?
Advocates swear that switching to a farm-to-fork lifestyle serves as almost a sort of detox, ridding them of synthetic chemicals and empty calories.
Buying locally decreases the chances they'll eat something that was genetically modified or somehow altered in a lab, instilling a certain peace of mind and confidence in their food choices.
The movement, however, does have its critics. Some people claim buying local or organic food costs too much money, or takes too much time. Proponents counter that eating from farm to fork is an investment in more than a healthier body -- it's also an investment in a healthier community that supports its members, as well as a healthier planet.
There does seem to be something very primal and instinctive about this trend; it returns us back to our ancestors' days of hunting and gathering. It's a back-to-basics approach that can be refreshing in a hectic, technology-driven world.
This guest article was contributed by Katheryn Rivas of Online Universities. She welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.