This week let’s explore farmer, artisan producer, and chef: three jobs that seem so closely related yet can be so vastly different.
Let’s make it simple. Farmers grow stuff, usually providing the raw ingredients that go to artisan producers which turn the raw items into a value added product. For example Sequatchie Cove Farm provides the food artisan Link 41 sausage the meat to make their charcuturie. Sometimes the farmer is also the artisan producer like Noble Springs Dairy. More recently, many “farmers” are specialty product entrepreneurs who have discovered they can control the supply and quality of raw ingredients better if they grow them themselves. Chefs are the final stop on the farm bus. Chefs take the farm products and artisan products and make them into delicious offerings to entice you to spend dining dollars for their creations. As someone who has seen both sides of the trenches, I wish there was a way to form better understanding between the groups. Chefs have menus to write and unfortunately the farmer may not always have what that menu has on it. Mother Nature is writing the farmers script. This in turn stresses farmer and chef, then ultimately the end consumer. Artisan producers are right in the middle of this… they have to generate product in order to also have a final product to sell. If the chickens aren’t laying, the poultry farmer is out of luck…the market won’t have eggs, the baker can’t make cookies and cakes and such, so then the consumer who relies on the eggs is upset and round and round it goes.
I think we have all gotten a little reliant on having everything we want all the time. The global technologies and large farming practices, as well as faster cheaper shipping make our tolerance very small when it comes to lack of availability. Blueberries in January when it is minus 5 outside? No problem, we just get some from Chile. Surely it seems we have forgotten about the art of eating seasonal and locally, canning or freezing summers bounty for the winter, and practicing patience with farmers and artisans when things are slim.
Ruth Reichl, former editor of Gourmet magazine, goes into further detail about the differences between producers and chefs:
“There was this whole movement for restaurants, because we loved the fact that the chefs were giving us food. And suddenly, the successful chefs are flying around the world, they’ve got 25 restaurants, they’re here, they’re there. You go into their restaurants and you don’t see them actually cooking food.
I feel like the new heroes are the butchers, the bakers, the cheesemakers, and the farmers that are really transforming American food. I think maybe you have to be of my generation to really understand what a profound change this is.”
Read the whole article here http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/blog/2011/09/09/ruth-reichl-discusses-food-artisans-the-romantic-notion-of-chefs-today-and-why-theres-so-much-food-media/
So remember when you see chefs and restaurants supporting local farms by offering their products, you tell them “good work” and perhaps also decide to practice patience when they tell you they are out of a dish, because the farmer was out of something too.
Here is a list of some Nashville Restaurants that support local farms. Some source from Green Door Gourmet. Regardless of which farm they are supporting, they are at least trying to help!
Caffé Nonna , Miel , Tayst , Flyte , J Alexanders , 1808 Grille , Silly Goose , Wild Cow , Smiling Elephant , Park Café , and F Scotts
Green Door is pleased to have established a wonderful farm to fork co-op of other farms and producers available here each week and online at the e market place.
If you are interested in “putting up” a bounty of things yourself, the following resources might be a good start.
The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard
Putting Up by Stephen Palmer Dowdney
Creative Pickling by Barbara Ciletti
You Can Can by Better Home and Gardens
Next week the blog will feature recipes using our jams jellies etc in fun ways, so don’t miss out on that! Also as you are thinking about your fall décor, order your corn stalks, hay bales, Indian corn, mums and pumpkins from us. We even deliver those! More info to come on that as well.
This week on the farm, acorn and butternut squash, peppers, sweet potatoes, onions, eggplant, kale, cucumbers, the last of the slicing tomatoes, herbs, a few surprises from the field if we are lucky and a jar our fig jam to inspire you to start “putting up!” Click Here to order your box.
See you on Saturday!