When the farm to table movement first reared its head, everyone had an opinion.
Many people thought it might be a passing phase, but years later, it is safe to say that farm to fork restaurants are here to stay.
Gourmet meal and white wine
Photo by Jay Wennington on Unsplash
What is farm to table?
It was during the 1960s and 70s that people first started to notice that their food did not have much taste. Chez Panisse opened in Berkeley California in 1971, and Chef Alice Waters insisted on locally produced produce, as she knew that would guarantee incredibly tasty cuisine.
Her idea paid dividends, and the farm to table began to grow steadily until it exploded in popularity in the 2000s when cities like Boulder, Colorado, and Seattle, Washington, offered farm to fork restaurants.
Farm to table is a social movement in favor of the direct acquisition of ingredients. A farm to table restaurant will source their ingredients from local farms instead of having produce shipped from other parts of a country or from around the world.
One of the foremost reasons for local sourcing is the preservation of flavor. Any food that has to be shipped across significant distances must be picked before it is ready to be consumed, and the food may be frozen to preserve it. These methods invariably result in bland ingredients that also have low nutritional values.
When your ingredients are locally sourced, you may buy when the produce is at its peak, bursting with flavor and micronutrients.
This allows a farm to table restaurant to pare back the sauces etc. used to drown out the flavorless main ingredients and, instead, allow the fresh food to shine.
In winter, many delicious fruits ripen.
The good things about cooking and eating fresh local foods are…
- Farm to table fuels the local economy and directly supports local producers.
- The food is delicious, and the farm to fork restaurant’s commitment to the trend can bring them good exposure and more clients.
- It builds a closer community as the buying process is personalized.
- Fresh, local food becomes accessible to local people when it is served in a local farm to table restaurant.
- Farm to fork means fewer greenhouse gasses, which means less climate change.
Possible hurdles for the farm to table restaurant establishment
- Menus have to change and continuously adapt as the seasons produce a rotating availability.
- There is some healthy skepticism about the truthfulness of any claim that a farm to table restaurant is indeed producing cuisine created exclusively from fresh produce.
- The food is more expensive. This is merely common sense as large factory farms can afford to sell produce at a much lower cost. And to ensure a profit any farm to table restaurant has to offer food at increased prices to cover the high overheads of embracing the farm to table movement.
Back to the Farm
Our favorite farm to table restaurants in Africa
Babylonstoren, South Africa
Image by Babylonstoren
A working wine farm in the Cape Winelands that has been in constant operation since 1692 boasts an edible garden with over 300 local farm to table plants, herbs, and vegetables. Here, guests can pick their own produce, take it back to their cottage and prepare dinner in the sleek kitchen.
Babylonstoren’s garden has scented beds filled with rosemary, wild garlic, and thyme. There is a berry block (Cape gooseberries, mulberries), a table grape pergola, and orchard (naartjies, nectarines, and grapefruit) and an apiary for honey.
Meticulously landscaped by French designer Patrice Taravella, the farm to fork vegetable section includes every product you may desire from butternut to beets and rocket to radishes.
Of course, one does not always want to cook for yourself, and Babylonstoren offers the perfect alternative in their on-site farm to fork restaurants.
They claim to serve the best hotel breakfast in the business. Devised according to the season’s bounty guests can expect gorgeous just-blended juices, seasonal fruit, homemade muesli, freshly baked bread, thick yogurt, and farm honey at the breakfast table.
Lunch reflects the ‘pick, clean, serve’ approach in keeping with Babylonstoren’s farm to fork philosophy.
The Bakery serves evening meals inspired by Italy from Monday to Friday. Expect a four-course set menu and a Carnivore Evening every Wednesday.
Babylonstoren also has a stunning Garden Spa, a gym overlooking the garden and a restored farm reservoir that serves as a swimming pool and haven on hot summer days. If you enjoy a little adventure, you can book guided fishing, row on the dam, or explore the farm by bicycle, take a drive to the mountain or join in the morning harvest.
Accommodation in seven guest rooms in three traditional cottages (some with glassed-in kitchens facing onto the garden), a five-bedroom Manor House, and the Farmhouse suite.
Delaire Graff Lodges & Spa, South Africa
Image by Delaire Graff Lodges & Spa
At the point where Helshoogte Pass crests, a 55-acre estate is a stylish reminder of the highlights of culture during the colonial era. David Collins of the Blue Bar of the Berkeley Hotel brings British flair to the interiors of the 10 lodge suites, with private infinity plunge pools, walls of grasscloth, timber decks, and butler’s kitchens. An undeniable fascination with the East is recalled in the estate’s Indochine farm to fork restaurant. The Delaire Graff farm to table restaurant recalls a New York supper club. And the giant wooden doors of the winery swing open to reveal a nod to the cow-dung and oxblood floors once ubiquitous to Cape Afrikaner homes – recreated with peach pips and red resin.
British diamond jeweler and owner Laurence Graff’s enviable art collection adorns the hotel and gardens.
The food philosophy at Delaire Graff takes produce from their farm to table greenhouse and vegetable gardens, marrying it with a commitment to supporting seasonal farming and free-range, pasture reared livestock from local farmers and combines it cleverly with global trends in dining.
Sava Dunes, Mozambique
Image by Sava Dunes
An eco-aware, off the grid lodge located on a remote part of the Inhambane coastline between Barra and Tofo. Sava sits on top of golden sand dunes, and sustainability runs through every part of its ethos.
Farm to fork thrives as you will dine on produce from the local garden and freshly caught seafood.
The five ocean-facing chalets and one garden facing family chalets are all completely solar-powered with expansive views and the beach only a couple of steps away. The coastline is raw and rugged with surfable waves and whale-shark and humpback whales in season. Bottlenose dolphins are frequent visitors.
Gibb’s Farm, Tanzania
Image by Gibb’s Farm
In the 1920s, a coffee plantation was founded on the outer slopes of the Ngorongoro Crater. Today, Gibb’s Farm continues to serve its heritage along with freshly roasted coffee while guests overlook the lush vistas of the Great Rift Valley.
This idyllic retreat is a perfect choice if you dream of experiencing the Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara, and Lake Eyasi.
More than just another lodge in Africa, at Gibb’s Farm guests are invited to immerse themselves in farm life. Revel in the tranquility and sense of community as you share in the lifestyle of generations of local families.
Fresh farm to table fruits, vegetables, and herbs are sourced from the organic gardens. Meat and fresh milk are sourced from sustainably-raised, local farms.
Spacious interiors, eclectic art, beloved outdoor showers, and an award-winning sense of well being await you in one of the 17 cottages. There are also two farmhouses for bigger families and those travelling together.
An excellent choice for multi-generation trips and safaris with young members of the family, Gibb’s Farm is the perfect playground in East Africa.