Feud of Forks and Farms: San Diego’s "farm-to-table" movement

Harvest by the Patio


A Feud of Forks and Farms: How San Diego’s "farm-to-table" movement is fighting for a healthier generation. The sliding glass doors of another grocery store conglomerate open themselves as if to devour its customers. My ears resonate with the artificial welcomings from underpaid employees and the screeching stuck rubber wheels of dilapidated carts against linoleum. What awaits me are shelves of vegetables and fruits, food that has travelled thousands of pointless miles due to sheer corporate ineptitude. These perishable immigrants sit in stacks, awaiting to be purchased, preying upon the ignorance of its consumers. Little do the men and women who busy about these stacks know that every fruit stand is a chemical cornucopia, marinaded in the finest pesticides and lacking basic nutrition. Little do the men and women know that every shelf is feeding the gluttonous beast of corporations and starving the frail businesses of local farms. Little do the men and women know that every purchase made in this store is another dent in the ozone layer, another threat to our very existence. Little do the men and women know that this is their life outside the farm-to-table movement. Little do the little men and women know.

As the Industrial Revolution turned trees into turnpikes and lakes into landfills, the same can be said for our food. During the early 20th century, food was never transported farther than from 50 miles. However, as technology improved, the appetite for convenience became insatiable. With TVs came TV dinners, with the fast life, came fast food, allowing for the processed foods we consume to consume our health. Processed foods such as these have been known to cause severe health problems like high blood pressure, heart disease, and cancer.

However, it was not until the buds of flower children blossomed in the 1960s and 1970s that revolution spread from campus grounds to kitchens. These decades begat the "farm-to-table" movement, a campaign that sought to bring back the organic, locally grown foods missing in our diets. Pioneers of this movement like Alice Waters and Jerry Traunfeld originated from the hippie havens of America, such as Berkeley, California and Washington State.

The counterculture’s enthusiasm for "farm-to-table" foods turned out to be more than just a simple drug-induced frenzy. Because of the long journey much of the outsourced food faces, corporations are often forced to pick fruits and vegetables prior to ripening, decreasing the nutrition of the food significantly. Furthermore, in order to preserve the food during the trials and tribulations of its travel, the corporate produce is often bathed in preservatives and pesticides that wreak havoc on the body. These chemicals have been known to cause memory disorders, skin conditions, depression, miscarriage, birth defects, cancer, and neurological conditions such as Parkinson's disease. In contrast, most foods produced by local farmers are free from pesticides as there is no need to load their food with chemical cocktails because of the short distances between their farm to your fridge.

Farm-to-table foods also enable local farmers to expand economically. By purchasing these foods, you help fund and support local jobs and bring greater monetary wealth to the community that you love. Local farms also have been known to provide jobs for the underprivileged as well as those in need of rehabilitation. While the prices may be higher than in corporate grocery stores, the support you give to local farmers creates a cohesive element indispensable to any community.

Eating with a farm-to-table attitude does more than just help your body and the community--it helps the world. With every bite of an apple from your mainstream market, there are thousands of miles, thousands of gallons of diesel fuel needed to bring that bite to you. Our carbon footprints become the size of mutated Godzillas as we continue to consume these poisoned products. Rather than spend a few more cents, we’d rather spend a few less years on a planet slowly working itself towards extinction. Eating local products combats climate change, preserving the blue marble that spins its way through the pinball machine of the galaxy. Much of the farm-to-table movement has partnered with farmers and ranchers that seek to practice sustainable methods of farming like biodiversity, water conservation, and environmental protection.

As with many of its Californian counterparts, San Diego heads the battalion of the American crusade for farm-to-table eating. The city provides a plethora of stores and restaurants, making the farm-to-fork methodology easy to come by. Some of the most highly rated restaurants in San Diego include the Garden Kitchen, a restaurant serving American cuisine in a sustainably fresh way. The Garden Kitchen serves a myriad of foods with the menu changing daily depending on the ingredients they are given by local farms that day. Serving meals for vegans, vegetarians, and carnivores, the Garden Kitchen is a neighborhood gem that you simply cannot do without.

Another highly reviewed restaurant is Harvest by the Patio, a restaurant with an alternative chic design with an alternative style of cooking. Built upon the passion for healthy, fresh food, Chef Amiko Gubbins and her foodie family work to create quality meals with the best-tasting ingredients. For gluten-free, vegetarian, or nut-free lovers, Harvest by the Patio is the place to be. Partnering with a network of local purveyors to use sustainable ingredients, Harvest by the Patio is a splendid example of culinary, farm-to-fork genius.

Circa Restaurant also sways many of San Diego’s food-to-fork fanatics. Assuming a more classic take on the farm-to-table mindset, Circa brings back the golden years of the 20th century with its rustic Californian comfort food and hi-fi stereo. Founded in 2014 by Chefs Mike and Terri Almos, Circa brings out the beauty of local flavors in their meals. From meats to vegetables, Circa has a diverse menu that will surely satisfy any picky palate.

If you are a lover of fresh Italian cuisine, the Farmer’s Bottega Restaurant and Cucina Urbana cannot be missed. Similar to many of the other restaurants mentioned, Farmer’s Bottega and Cucina Urbana’s gritty organic interior designs are mirrored in their culinary designs as well. The restaurant oozes with sustainability from its locally sourced foods to its recycled, vintage tabletops and Edison bulb chandeliers. Both restaurants have meals for vegetarians, vegans, and carnivores alike. The head chef of each of these respective restaurants takes their Italian roots, drizzles and roasts it in olive oil for all of San Diego’s citizens to enjoy and appreciate.

As the city’s Technicolor hues ricochet on the glassy Pacific like illuminated stained glass, it is easy to believe that such a beautiful city as San Diego could hold such beautiful minds. Minds that work as a collective to give life to a community and spirit to its inhabitants. Minds that understand that food is not meant to sicken but to swallow. Minds that are standing up to corporate conglomerates and saying they are more than just a number, just a statistic. They are souls, and they matter. 

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