For some, summer is all about beaches, tanning and relaxing with friends, but for me, nothing says summer like fresh, locally-sourced foods. While the aforementioned activities are all well and good, there’s really nothing like waking up on a weekend morning to visit your local farmer’s market, or dining out at one of the many farm-to-table restaurants every city has to offer. Integrative health and diet coach Sandra Dubrov agrees, explaining, “Farm-to-table isn’t some new, trendy food fad. After all, it’s the way people used to eat before supermarkets saved us from the inconvenience of waiting until July for tomatoes and August for the first sweet ears of corn.”
Sandra, who has close relationships with many of New York’s local farmers, offers Greenmarket Union Square tours to those looking to expand their fresh food knowledge. She was kind enough to share her private list of her favorite farms and the farmer-recommended restaurants that she trusts with StyleCaster readers. Click through to see the best New York has to offer, and check out what she had to say about the wonders of farm-to-table.
On the history of farm-to-table eating…
Until relatively recently, you grabbed your market basket and marched yourself over to the farmers’ stands to get dinner. The farmers’ market is where you saw your neighbors, shared the latest gossip and chatted with the farmers. Your dinner went from the farm to your table, no middle men, no trucking, no warehousing – just you and the food. Farm-to-table today is really all about continuing the food traditions of the past, when people lived in a healthier, more balanced civilization.
On why it’s important to get to know your local farm…
The first step in learning how to eat and nurture ourselves is to rediscover the idea of farm-to-table. Going to the farmers’ markets, talking to the farmers, seeing what is available, selecting the best, asking the farmers how it was grown, and assessing if it is the right food for you. For me, it is vastly important to learn about the food I am eating and about the people who grow it. I want to know what, if anything, was used to fertilize my beets, and if the eggs came from chickens who spend their days in the sunshine,
running through barnyards and fields, eating grubs and bugs (that’s what they like to eat!). Since when are birds vegetarian anyway?
On being mindful of where you eat out…
Let’s say you want to go out to eat, but don’t want a large helping of pesticides with your Caeser salad. What happens? Where do you eat? Farm-to-Table movement to the rescue! We have amazing farmers’ markets in New York City, so why not take advantage? This city is packed solid with chefs who go out of their way to prepare sumptuous meals made from farm-fresh, local, sustainably grown ingredients. If you are already mindful of the way you eat at home, why not extend it to the restaurants you choose? There are lots of great lists online that can point you to the right spots from the restaurants’ point of view, but I like to get the scoop from the farmers.
I know the farmers, they are my friends, I see them at least weekly and I trust them. So, I ask them whom they like, which chefs are regulars at their stalls, if they have eaten at the restaurants or visited the kitchens – that’s how I know what restaurants are for real. I get the information I’m looking for; I know who is shopping at my favorite farms and what restaurants are using the food I want to eat – those are the restaurants I go to. I get lots of famous, swank names, but I also learn of small eateries that never would have crossed my radar otherwise.