The farm-to-table concept has gained a lot of popularity across the globe in recent times. As the name suggests, the idea behind this is to prepare food using locally sourced natural and organic materials. Several restaurants are now following the farm to table philosophy in their kitchens.
Also known as ‘farm-to-fork’, this approach comes with both nutritional and environmental benefits. One of the main objectives behind this is to ensure residue free products and minimal supply chain interventions between the farmer and consumer.
With the number of COVID-19 cases spiralling across the world, hygiene is top priority through the entire supply chain.
The origins of farm to table
Conceptualised by a renowned American chef named Alice Waters, the movement steadily gained popularity within the United States and later got introduced in India and other regions of Asia in the beginning of the 21st century.
Alice is known to have first used produce from local farms at her restaurant in California in 1971. Very soon, the dishes that were made there emerged to be more fresh and flavourful than the ones cooked at other restaurants in the locality.
With celebrities like the Australian cricketer Matthew Hayden and the eminent British chef Jamie Oliver endorsing it on their shows and platforms, the farm-to-table concept has been booming further.
Has Jaipur embraced it?
When it comes to India, metro cities like Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore, were among the first to adopt the farm to table concept. However, in the last few years, Jaipur has also emerged as a hotspot with the presence of leading cafes, restaurants, home chefs and farms, embracing this concept.
Cafes and restaurants taking the initiative
Anokhi Cafe, can be best described as a cafe that offers healthy and tasty food, with an international flavour. Hailed as ‘gluten-free’, this cafe mainly relies on seasonal organic produce grown locally in its farm to prepare dishes. For instance, it uses fresh lettuce picked at dawn to make salads throughout the day.
Another cafe on these lines is Cafe White Sage, aiming to provide a holistic mind-body-soul experience through vegetarian fine food. This cafe, going with the tagline, ‘Where sustainable meets artisanal’, aims towards innovation and sustainability, bringing in local diversity in the food, thus empowering the local farmers.
Jaipur Modern, a multi cuisine restaurant, is known for its organic farming initiatives and sustainable agricultural practices. The management procures vegetables from a contracted network of farmers across Rajasthan to ensure freshness and quality. Creating international flavors with locally sourced ingredients has been their motto since inception.
Growing fresh produce at farms
After witnessing the benefits of the farm to table approach, many farms are also taking their first step towards sustainable living. Jaipur has dedicated farms growing produce only to be sold directly to consumers.
Tiny Roots, who are specially involved in the farming of microgreens and edible flowers, have a team of farmers who help buyers pluck greens and vegetables fresh from the soil.
The Solitude Kitchen in Jaipur, is a collaborative effort between Earthbowl Farms and Chef Anuroopa Banerjee Gupta. The concept followed by the Solitude Kitchen, aims to bring delicious, healthful options with ingredient based international menus changing every week to reflect fresh, locally grown or sourced produce from their private farm or independent farmers.
When asked about the cooking procedure, Anuroopa says, “80 percent of the items we use for cooking is from what we grow ourselves. We believe in doing everything from scratch. Most of the cooking oil we put in is cold pressed in-house using our organically grown peanuts, we mill our own wheat to make breads, and make fresh cheese as well as flavoured butters using our own organic milk from Earthbowl farms.”
Anuroopa also talks about the growing interest of people in the farm to table concept. She notes, “We have received phenomenal responses compared to when we started. Since our menus change every week and we have had over 650 varieties of condiments, it's difficult to point out the most ordered items on the menu.”
A nutritionist’s take on the concept
Rajat Jain, who is a dietician and nutrition specialist based in Jaipur, explains the multiple health benefits of the farm to table concept.
Jain says, “One of the greatest health benefits of the farm to table concept, is the availability of natural ingredients in the food. The consumer knows that the food is fresh and sourced right from the farm, instead of traveling through multiple channels. Suppose, while consuming a freshly cut spinach from a farm, the consumer is assured that no external ingredients are added to the food.”
As per Jain, another advantage of this concept, is that the nutrition value in the body improves drastically.
In addition to these health benefits, there is a massive economic benefit here as well. Jain says, “Buying from the market involves extra costs, which are paid for the mediators involved in transporting the vegetables from the source to the market.”
With respect to Jaipur picking up this concept, Jain says, “This concept is at an early stage in Jaipur. However, the people who understand this concept, are liking it for the immense benefits, and giving a very good response.”
Will the Mumbai-based brand, Suzette, work in Jaipur?
While local chefs and entrepreneurs are getting into the farm to table concept in Jaipur, the presence of a renowned brand in this sector can be a game changer.
For instance, the brand Suzette, based in Mumbai was originally conceptualised by French chefs. Presently, it comprises of a cafe, creperie, bakery, salad and sandwich bar as well as a kitchen garden restaurant.
Jain is extremely optimistic regarding the future of this concept in Rajasthan. “With the current COVID-19 crisis and the growing health issues, people in general are showing an increasing awareness towards their health and nutrition”, adds Jain.
The ultimate goal of the farm to table concept is to make quality and healthy dishes. And, considering that there is an entire generation of people who have improper food and dietary habits, this could go a long way in promoting intelligent eating.
Edited by Roshni Shroff
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