Field to Table to Tummy
Written by Trish Krause - Bite Out of Life Wellness
Eating for Health and Happiness Need Not Be Difficult This Summer
Ahhhh summer! The season of abundance when it comes to fresh food and yummy dining.
The field to fork movement is certainly not new, but the idea of sourcing your food from local farms and eating sustainably has never been more popular.
“Sustainability is a blanket term, but it’s not just about the food. It’s about building economic strength in the community alongside choosing the best possible foods to nourish your family,” says Wendy Banks, a sixth-generation farmer and owner/operator of Banks’s Country Market, located in a historic schoolhouse in Lyndhurst.
When customers stop by her market, Banks is more than happy to engage them in conversation about why shopping local and being a curious foodie is good for both the health of her customers and the long-term viability of the many small agri-food business in this region.
“Healthy food begins with how it’s grown and produced. That food needs healthy soil. And healthy soil results when you avoid a monoculture environment that will deplete the natural resources in the soil,” says Banks. “A small-scale operation is more likely to cross-promote a variety of crops and animals to minimize waste and maximize sustainability. Everything is connected, and that’s why I am so passionate about sharing this information with my customers.”
As part of fostering this connection, Banks hosts school groups, cooking, planting and farm information classes, and many other workshops and events at her market to demonstrate eating well doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive or intimidating.
“Sustainability is a blanket term, but it’s not just about the food. It’s about building economic strength in the community alongside choosing the best possible foods to nourish your family.”
Making the connection between the farmer, the table and the enjoyment of a meal is always top of mind for Tim Pater, president of Black Dog Hospitality Group.
Pater’s love of locavore culture began with a trip to France when he was still in high school. There, he witnessed families forgoing massive once-a-week supermarket trips and instead stopping at the bakery, the butcher, and the green grocer down the street so everything they put on the table was fresh and from a source they knew and trusted. And that also contributed to the local economy.
“Meals were seasonally-driven and what’s even more amazing is that it was an experience in itself to prepare the food, to do the work of making a meal happen. The meals go on and on, everyone being together at the table for hours each night. I’d never seen that here and it really had a tremendous impact on me,” says Pater, adding that his goal has always been to help his patrons feel that same sense of awe about food and importance of combining sociability and sustainability.
As he created Black Dog Catering, then his four eclectic and wildly popular restaurants, Le Chien Noir Bistro, Atomica Kitchen, Diane’s Fish Shack and Smokehouse and Harper’s Burger Bar, Pater was dedicated to bringing together local — preferably organic suppliers — who aligned with his philosophy of great food that pleases the palate and the social conscience.
“Our customers are savvy. They definitely want great meals at fair prices. But many are also aware of the importance of managing our footprint and doing business with reputable farms and producers. They do ask questions and we want to be able to answer those with integrity.”
Both Banks and Pater take pride in helping their customers and staff understand how to decipher the many terms and descriptions that are tossed around when it comes to sustainable eating.
Here’s a quick glossary of some of the most common terms you’ll hear, so you can make choices that align best with your values and needs:
Good Eating Glossary
Locavore: someone who principally chooses locally-grown or produced food
Sustainable diet: has a low impact on the environment, respects biodiversity, is culturally acceptable and economically accessible, and optimizes human and natural resources.
Certified Organic: foods labeled “organic” must contain at least 95 per cent organic ingredients with no synthetic growth hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, biotechnology, synthetic ingredients or irradiation in production or processing. Note: this is an arduous and expensive process that must be renewed yearly, so many small-scale producers follow organic principles but cannot afford the certification.
Grass Fed: Animals must only be fed grass and forage during the growing season. Grass-fed meat has less total fat, healthy omega-3 fats and antioxidants, and more conjugated linoleic acids, which are thought to help reduce heart disease and some cancers.
Pastured: Animals are allowed to roam in open pastures, giving the most nutritional benefits.
Cage Free and Free Run: hens may not be in conventional battery cages, but could still be confined to a crowded barn with no access to outdoors. Ask for details.
Free Range: hens may be free to run at will around the farmyard or in an outdoor enclosure. Ask for details.
Oceanwise: ensures research-based principles are applied to avoid/limit damage to ocean stocks or environment, including limiting bycatch of engendered or non-target species.
Fair Trade: crops must be grown, produced and processed in a manner that supports social, economic and environmental development. Workers must have fair wages, safe and equitable working conditions and the right to join unions. Child or forced labor is completely prohibited.
Natural: This is generally a fabricated marketing term that means nothing.