Chef Carrie Eagle of Farm & Table in Albuquerque’s North Valley knows about the vitality of fresh-from-the-vine produce. As the executive chef of the restaurant, she works in concert with Sol Harvest Farms, which is situated on the same campus as Farm & Table. She’s also a recent winner of Food Network’s “Chopped.”
She says that there’s an vibrancy to farm-fresh produce, one in which commercially-produced fruits and veggies can’t compare.
There’s also a health benefit to using heirloom -or traditionally produced- ingredients. Some fear that preservatives and hormones used in commercially-distributed beef, dairy and produce goods may cause health problems, including depression, ADD and cancer. Aside from those fears, consuming produce close to harvest time will pack more punch in terms of vitamin content.
Restaurants like The Grove, Blue Corn Cafe in Santa Fe, The Artichoke Cafe, Farina Pizzeria and Los Poblanos all utilize farm to table in some form. Grocers like La Montanita Co-Op also sell locally-produced, organic goods to clients in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Gallup.
Whether the movement continues to grow among consumers remains to be seen. However, proponents of farm to table say that it’s a great way to support local economy, reduce our carbon footprint, and provide healthy dietary solutions for our families.
In 2011, the University of California released a report on the vitality of farm-fresh produce, stating that vegetables can begin losing nutrients in as little as three days from harvest. Furthermore, certain species of spinach begin deteriorating within 24 hours.
Keeping food fresh, flavorful and local is at the core of farm to table -a movement that’s been gaining traction within the past two decades.
Farm to table, however, goes as far back as the late 1960’s. Chef Alice Waters, founder and owner of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California started a foodie revolution, opting to use ingredients from locally-sourced growers rather than big-box, commercial distributors.
The movement spread out to various parts of the country, becoming a trend with top restaurants and markets. New Mexico isn’t immune to the movement, featuring dozens of farm-to-table restaurants and more than 80 farmers markets statewide.
Among the premier growers are Peculiar Farms, Skarsgard Farms, Sol Harvest and Wagner Farms… just to scratch the surface.
These farms are now contributing to the multi-million dollar agricultural industry that has become a major staple to New Mexico’s economy.