From Jefferson’s Farm to His Table

Farm-to-Table food is a good old concept made new again.

By Colleen Walsh Fong

Farm-to-Table is a fashionable restaurant trend in which chefs use locally grown ingredients to ensure freshness by reducing shipping and storage time. Menus change according to what is seasonally available in a particular region. Restaurateurs employing this model are good neighbors who support their local economies and ecosystems, avoiding the health hazards associated with corporate farming. And locally produced food is more likely to be organic. 

But like the Peter Allen song says, “Everything Old is New Again.” Many of our “new” trends are really old, recycled ones. Farm-to-Table is in fact the way most people lived before the 20th century. It may surprise readers to know that our 4th-ranked United States President, Thomas Jefferson, was a huge proponent of “farm-to-table.” In fact, he extolled the virtues of eating a diet high in fresh vegetables and fruits and low in meat. And he “walked the walk” by eating that way himself.

Jefferson grew loads of vegetables in his kitchen garden at Monticello, with peas being given a huge space allotment because of his fondness for them. Several lettuce crops were grown and harvested there each year and he was one of the young nation’s earliest growers of tomatoes. The recorded purchases of cabbage made by the Jefferson’s indicates it was a big family favorite, too.

Farm-to-table methodology made the Jefferson menu healthy, and it would stand up well to those in any of today’s chi-chi restaurants. Home chefs wishing to use this cooking strategy can use local food co-ops and farmers markets. Daily healthy and delicious vegetable recipes appear in Easy Weekly Meals smart cookbooks. Check one out if you’d like to add more veggies to your table.

Our third President believed in getting regular exercise and moderation in all things. And although he had a penchant for French cuisine and enjoyed fine wines, vegetables, small quantities of meat, and olive oil were the staples of his diet.

What a difference a century makes! Presidents’ ranking 5th and 6th were carnivores. Watch for more on the Top 10 Presidents’ Favorite Foods to learn more about them.

Image courtesy of porbitol / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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