“Artisanal,” “Farm to table,” ”Locally Sourced”—what do each of these mean and what do they have in common? They’re catch phrases, buzzwords to describe a current movement. The question: Is it just a fad, or here to stay? My answer is a resounding yes to the latter! Although I’ve heard and said farm to table more times than I can remember, I wholeheartedly believe in the message and ethics behind it.
Lately, after recently launching a very focused “farm to table” program at the Berry Man, I have been accompanying our sales team, doing presentations on how it works and what it is. Before I go out, I put together a little ‘show and tell’ sample box to demo for our new and existing customers. The box might include local peaches from Todd of Burkdoll Farms, or red Shishitos from Jack at Elwood Canyon and perhaps a wedge of sheep milk cheese called “ewe-nique” from Reggie Jones of Central Coast Creamery. Besides the farm fresh quality, impeccable taste and eye appeal, I have discovered that what interests people the most these days are: they really want to know where there food is coming from. They want to hear what variety the peach is, if it’s an heirloom, or where the farm is located, and I get very excited because I get to tell that story!
Being in sales can be tough. You have to be ok with rejection, with doors getting shut in your face. The food business is fast paced and exhausting, and it’s easy for a Chef to resent a bubbly fresh-faced salesperson when they are in the midst of trying to get their ‘mise en place’ done. It is not an environment conducive to sitting down with a sales rep for a chat, however, these days, things are noticeably different. Sales call after sales call, I am greeted with happiness when I ask for a few moments of their time to discuss our local produce program, which also features organics.
I used to cook for a living before I became a sales rep. I also used work for a large corporate foodservice company. That was an extremely hard sell. The South Central Coast prefers to support smaller, local companies, as opposed to the corporate giants. At The Berry Man, as long as I am allowed a two minute opening about how special this program is, and why you would want to take advantage of it, I am welcomed with inquiring minds. Although I am a seasoned salesperson, it is mostly the quality of the products that I sell, that determines my success. I am grateful that I am not selling just any old commodity. I am selling something that everyone needs and wants—food—and it’s great food at that!
This leads me to another point, something for you to ponder. When dining out, do you care about the quality and nutritive value of the food that you are eating? Are you just eating to feed yourself, or are you wanting to eat healthy, but at the same time, enjoy what you’re eating? I can absolutely, guarantee you, that those who embrace and incorporate “farm to table,” care. It is not just a gimmick to them, it’s in accordance with their set of values, and a way of life. At the Berry Man, we want to provide our customers access to this way of life. We want to provide those who can’t go to the Farmer’s market, with an opportunity to hear the story about where their food is grown and how carefully it is tended to. We want to create memories that will keep our customers and in turn, their customers, coming back for more.
Lastly, I want to recommend that when you eat out, look for restaurants and food establishments that use terms like “Farm to Table,” “Artisanal,” or “Locally Sourced.” Jargon aside, what is really being said is that they care, and the food they serve is equally, “thoughtfully sourced and thoughtfully prepared.”