VOX ATL Teen: A Look At How The Farm-To-Table Movement Can Benefit You

VOX ATL writer NaaSir Coleman says one benefit of the farm-to-table movement is that it can “help boost the economy for local farmers, giving them a fair wage for all the good they do.”

Art by Naasir “Kit” Coleman / Courtesy of VOX ATL

By NaaSir Coleman

What Farm To Table Means To Me

I’ve always loved the idea of an organic, more eco-friendly life since I first learned the meaning of the farm-to-table movement back in 2017, when I helped my aunt cook for her catering business.

It opened my eyes to the true possibilities of what food could and should be.

I’ve learned so many things from first starting my farm-to-table journey to now.

It helped me realize that I love farming and cooking to make wonderful, delicious heartwarming dishes. I have learned that embracing the farm-to-table movement has great positive effects on the environment by promoting the ethical treatment of animals and food safety.

It can also help boost the economy for local farmers, giving them a fair wage for all the good they do. This benefits the consumer by providing better health and wellness that boosts the immune system, which is super important in our current times.

Asking Questions And Getting Answers

While writing this article, I interviewed a few inspiring farm-to-table representatives.

The first person I interviewed was Farm Burger co-founder George Frangos. I asked him how he feels the farm-to-table movement benefits teens and young adults of today.

“As a young person, you think about caring for our planet right and what it’s gonna be like in 20, 30, 40 years from now,” Frangos said. “That’s a huge benefit, and I think if you talk to a lot of farmers, that’s where they would go right away because they’re just about the land and the soil.”

He added, “Then the other part is just health and wellness and welfare and what you put into your body. You know items that might be organic or have organic principles are going be better for you. It just gives you so many more options for a farm-to-table lifestyle if you end up being a vegetarian or vegan or thinking about those things. When we support farm to table we have more access to those items that you want.”

I also asked chef and founder of Penelahpe’s Culinary Services, Leslie Hudson-Gordon, the same question.

“Jobs, memberships and free college in agriculture,” she said. “So many possibilities can be opened up through the movement.”

Lastly, I talked to the awesome West Georgia Farmers Cooperation, farmer Eric Simpson, who also provides produce for Farm Burger. This is a little bit of what he had to say.

“The farm-to-table concept, model and terminology educates youth about the direct connection between the source of the food and the meal on their plate,” he said. “It gives a literal meaning to agriculture and the importance it plays in our daily lives.”

Some Facts And Last-Minute Thoughts …

I feel that teens my age and older or younger should be more involved in the farm-to-table movement. It’s not just a matter of being interested anymore.

The planet is in danger of dying, and according to a 2019 study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “Balanced diets, featuring plant-based foods … and animal-sourced food produced in resilient, sustainable and low-[greenhouse gas] emission systems, present major opportunities for adaptation and mitigation while generating significant co-benefits in terms of human health.”

CNN also reports that “Food waste and meat consumption are big contributors to global warming, with food waste producing between 8% and 10% and livestock 14.5% of global emissions, according to the World Wildlife Fund.”

But some of that could change by just adding in a few things to your lifestyle that could benefit you and so many other people.

Here are just a few links to articles that will provide more helpful data:

  1.  Eat healthier, and you’ll help save the planet, report says
  2. Try this Earth-friendly diet: How to shop, cook and eat to fight climate change
  3. Change your diet to combat climate change in 2019

I know that when a lot of people think about farm to table and having a better lifestyle dealing with food, they think that you have to only eat vegetables and become a fighter for no animal killing and meat-eating. So let me tell you now, none of that is true.

Farm Burger is proof that you can enjoy delicious meat with whole value high-quality food at a decent price. Meaning that you don’t have to stop eating burgers to switch to a more conscious lifestyle.

Another thing could just be looking out for a community garden that you might be able to take produce from.

Or better yet, start your garden.

Another simple step is cooking your own meals.

I know some people aren’t as chef-y as they wish they were, but cooking and learning about the ingredients can open a door to so many other recipes and food options.

There are also a ton of meal prep services that will deliver the right ingredients or full-on meals to you. Such as: Atlanta Meal Prep, LLC or  Flower Child and even Eat Clean Bro are just a few services that can get you started.

Shopping On A Budget

One more thing is shopping at your local farmers market where you are getting fresh produce straight from the hands that helped produce them. Maybe along the way, you’ll find some cute jewelry or awesome hand-embroidered pants. Plus, you can do this on a budget!

The amazing thing about making these changes to your life is that you aren’t feeding the government money, but instead helping a small business that will continue to produce products you like.

It can also help with a ton of trash waste. As most fresh produce is sold as is (dirt on it or not) there is no unneeded plastic or just extra packaging.

“Getting [food] fresh, untouched (besides getting it out the ground and to you) means that you are not getting any additives or food that fits on shelves and has countless people touching it and all that nasty junk,” says Simpson. “Let food be thy medicine.”

How To Ease Into The Movement

Also, as a teen, you don’t have to do this on your own. Frangos says Farm Burger has done a few mentorships where teens come and work, visit the farms and learn the ways of the farm-to-table movement. Maybe try to get a friend or family member involved to help ease into the movement.

If you are looking for more protein-based options, Farm Burger and many restaurants on the Atlanta BeltLine could do.

For cooking proteins, you could try eggs, tofu, beans, fish and stores that sell 100% grass-fed beef. These are great cheap alternatives, and I’m sure if you did some more research, you could find even more.

If you know anyone or get to know someone in the movement, don’t be afraid to do what Chef Leslie did.

“I had a relationship with one farm where they would just give me their unwanted/wasted food,” she says. “So we used it to make carrot cakes or practice knife cuts. We cooked with whatever greens, and in the end, they had less waste because of it.”

As the world moves to a more eco-friendly lifestyle, the choices grow larger. This means more great cheap options for teens and people who can’t afford the high-budget items.

Pretty amazing right?

Now that I have given a few options and facts as to why they could benefit you and things around you, how do you feel about the potential chance to start a more inclusive farm-to-table lifestyle?

Hi, I’m NaaSir “Kit” Coleman. I’m 16, homeschooled and have too many plants. I love to experience new things whether it’s a new hobby or social justice movement to even a new scientific study. I enjoy pushing myself further so I can accomplish my ideal end product. I hope that one day I can travel all across the world to learn all aspects of life and hear new stories of old or new, before settling back down to just bathe in my riches.

This story was published at VOXATL.org, Atlanta’s home for uncensored teen publishing and self-expression. For more about the nonprofit VOX, visit www.voxatl.org.