The third installment of “Oh dear God, please stop saying that” is targeted on farm-to-table and what that term has come to represent. (The first two in this series ranted about the use of "moist" and "nom nom," some of the most offensive words in the English language used to describe food.)
Though we're big fans of it, we're not here to extol the virtues of the farm-to-table movement -- its aim, for those of you who don't know, is to bring locally grown, ethically raised food to our plates. This once meaningful, hopeful food movement has become watered down to mean little, metamorphosized into more of an advertising campaign than a philosophy.
We're not going to reminisce about how Alice Waters founded the movement with her Berkley restaurant, Chez Panisse.
We're not even going to joke about how this movement has exploded into a trend, resulting in menus that are printed with endlessly long lists of farms that supply their food to said menu ... lists much longer than the food options themselves. We're not going to discuss the sketch Portlandia did about this movement. (If you haven't seen it yet, you really should take a couple of minutes to do so.)
We're especially not going to get into how McDonald's -- the very antithesis of this movement's ethos -- began advertising its farm-to-table mission because its potatoes were grown in dirt and not fabricated in labs. We're definitely not going to comment on how ultimately, the term Waters made famous ended up breaking her heart.
And we're absolutely not going to remark on how one Tampa-based journalist exposed the fact that many restaurants that advertise as being farm-to-table are in fact lying.
We're not going to talk about any of those factors because it has already become a part of the F2T (yes, the term farm-to-table even has a trendy abbreviation) conversation. We just want to say one thing: Please, stop using the term farm-to-table. Just, stop.
Stop talking about farm-to-table because our talking about it so much has made the very idea of this movement lose all meaning. Its overuse has bled it dry of its philosophy. Farm-to-table has been used up, washed out, hung up to dry.
Instead, take the energy you might have spent investing in so-called farm-to-table establishments and seek out restaurants where chefs care about the food they're making, like Chez Panisse, not just about getting folks in the door because of an idea. Chefs who care about their food care about the ingredients they use; they call upon farmers and foragers who also care about the ingredients. It's farm-to-table without having to call itself anything but good food made with real ingredients. Visit your local farmer's market, cook with their fares. Put intention, action and consideration into the food you make, eat and buy. It doesn't get more "farm-to-table" than that.