Back to Basics: Farm-to-Table Food

The first supermarket supposedly appeared on the American landscape in 1946. That is not very long ago. Until then, where was all the food? Dear folks, the food was in homes, gardens, local fields, and forests. It was near kitchens, near tables, near bedsides. It was in the pantry, the cellar, the backyard.

Joel Salatin, Folks, Farmer and Author of This Ain’t Normal: A Farmer’s Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World

Genesis Culinary students began day two of their course with a reading and discussion of the above quote. This short yet poignant observation of our modern food system begs the question: Why is there such a disconnect between the land and the supermarket and how does this disconnect affect how we eat or think about food? As curious cooks and aspiring home-chefs, these are the questions we must ask ourselves whenever we prepare a meal.

image1To dig deeper into the subject, we went straight to the source and paid a visit to Brandeis University’s extraordinary rooftop farm. Located on a hidden mezzanine near the science labs, the rooftop farm grows entirely from milk crates filled with soil and provides enough produce each week to feed over a dozen families and has the potential to feed many more. Launched in 2015 thanks to a student-led initiative, the farm is maintained by a group of volunteer student organizers, one of whom gave us an in-depth tour of the rows of kale, melons, cucumbers and tomatoes currently in season.

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Participants harvested sweet and hot peppers, tri-colored carrots and a range of fresh herbs to bring back to the kitchen classroom, where we paired up and honed our knife skills. Quietly and patiently we improved our dicing and mincing.  We learned to julienne peppers and chiffonade herbs and the room filled with the incredible aroma of hyper local vegetables. Tonight, as we settle into dinner in the dining hall, we will no doubt think of the farm, and the farmers, that made our meal possible.

 

Liz Alpern

Genesis Culinary Art and Anthropology

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