Farm-to-table is a powerful concept that is reshaping our relationship with food and the environment. The idea is simple yet profound: food is sourced directly from local farms, with minimal to no processing, and served fresh on our tables. It emphasizes the importance of knowing where our food comes from, how’s it grown, and who grows it.
From balcony gardener to farmer
I have been growing herbs on my balcony for a long time. It was always a delight to cut up fresh coriander and sprinkle it on dishes right away, or pluck some basil leaves and make a pesto with leaves that were on the plant a few minutes ago.
Recently, we embarked on a journey to grow almost all our food needs on our land. As we started working on the land and eating fresh, organically grown produce, we saw a step change in our health – both physically and mentally. Harvesting fresh vegetables from the farm was in itself an immensely satisfying activity and then cooking it within a few hours almost feels like a luxury.
In the case of certain vegetables, I almost felt like I had never had them before. Bottle gourd so fresh so sweet that we could eat it raw. Never knew tomatoes were naturally supposed to be so tangy or that peas could so sweet ever.
Farm-to-Table recipe ideas in Indian winters
Now, every Sunday, I make my meal plan largely based on what’s growing on the farm. Then I harvest for just about 2 days in one go. Here are some of the winter season farm-to-table recipes.
- Homemade Pizza Sauce
- Millet Tabbouleh Salad
- Cherry Tomato Salad
- Carrot Soup with Carrot top pesto
- Farm Fresh Socca wrap
- Broccoli Leaves Patra
- Green Garlic Sabzi
- Roasted Pumpkin Salad
- Palak ka Shorba
- Bharwan Baingan
This list is also a follow-up on the intentions I had set for this year, specifically on ‘more farm-to-table meals’. If you are in Udaipur (or in areas with a similar climate as Udaipur), I would urge you to try some of these hyper-seasonal dishes.
Nutrient Loss in fresh fruits and vegetables
The more I connect with food at such a basic level as growing it myself, the more I am beginning to understand nutrition as well. I am quite amazed at how ignorant I was of how nutritious my food was. I always used to think that as long as I am cooking regularly at home, I am eating whole nutritious food. But that wasn’t the case. There are 2 points I want to highlight here:
- Nutrition at harvest: Fresh fruits and vegetables have the maximum nutrition when they are harvested at their peak maturity. (Source)This is possible only if the produce is being consumed locally and doesn’t need to be transported over a long distance. Many fruits and vegetables are harvested before they are ripe to allow for transportation time and ripening during those days.
- Nutrition Post Harvest: On the conservative side, most produce loses 30% of nutrients 3 days after harvest (Source). Most of the fresh produce in supermarkets is at least 5-7 days after harvest (if not more). So while their bulk buying, cold storage and refrigerated shelves may make the produce look fresh, after experiencing what fresh tastes and feels like in my body, I can never go back.
While I do need to buy some vegetables and fruits from the local vendors, my supermarket fresh produce shopping is now 0.
How long is your food chain?
As our farming journey continues, we are growing not just for ourselves but for many more families. Harvesting from the land itself is a priceless joy and being able to share that harvest and bring health and happiness to many, just adds so much more meaning to the work we are doing at Urban Farms. So many people have connected with us since we started these efforts in Udaipur and it is humbling to know the shifts we can support in them.