November 25, 2019

Farm to table is a widely accepted concept in the world of food. Far from its humble roots, it permeates the culinary profession and fosters several developing concepts that fall under its banner. Restaurants and bakeries alike have flocked to this more sustainable, locally focused method of ordering ingredients and preparing food, although the concept is more closely associated with eateries.

Students in online pastry arts schools may be wondering how they can tap into the many benefits of a farm to table approach, and indeed if this concept is practical for them and the bakeries they work for. Let's look at some key considerations when it comes to local sourcing and related concerns in the pastry arts.

A close up of an apple pie.Seasonally available fruits can be the backbone of a farm to table focused bakery.

Is farm to table possible for bakeries?

The concept of farm to table is hard to define at its roots. Jonathan Deutsch, a professor of culinary arts and food science at Drexel University, pointed out that farm to table doesn't have a universal, enforceable definition while writing for trade publication Restaurant Business. That stands in contrast with food-specific definitions like local, which the USDA qualifies as coming from within a 400-mile radius of a restaurant, bakery or other food-related endeavor.

In this most technical sense, farm to table is entirely within the grasp of bakeries, patisseries and other businesses focused on baked goods. The more important consideration is displaying the bona fides of a farm to table approach to customers and following practices that, while not strictly defined, are commonly agreed upon to a meaningful level.

Focusing on fresh, locally produced foods is the core of the farm to table concept. While bakeries have to either source refined ingredients like flour and sugar or process them themselves, they can explore their local and regional foodservice economy to find farms and other businesses that meet the informal farm to table standards. Even in situations where a bakery can't source every single ingredient from a local provider, it can make an effort to work with as many nearby suppliers as possible and continue to seek out new opportunities.

Operational considerations within the farm to table model include stockpiling certain ingredients while they're in season and processing or otherwise preserving them for use through the rest of the year. Menu adjustments are also important to align with shifting availability.

Is the farm to table model practical for bakeries?

There are a range of bakeries and other establishments focused on the pastry arts that closely follow a farm to table model across the country.

Chicago bakery Floriole, for example, makes its mission statement clear on its website, noting its commitment to using high-quality organic ingredients from local farmers whenever possible. This phrasing acknowledges the limitations that bakers can sometimes face when it comes to the farm to table concept while also highlighting an overall commitment to it. Floriole regularly adjusts its menu to be in line with available ingredients, offering everything from fruit galettes that feature different contents throughout the year to potato leek soup in the fall and Boston brown bread in the spring.

The Farm in Quakertown, Pennsylvania, follows a similar strategy. It prioritizes the use of local ingredients whenever possible and shifts its menu to focus on classic Pennsylvania Dutch baked goods that shift with the seasons. Offerings include apple dumplings, seasonal pies and other treats that can incorporate the shifting availability of fresh ingredients.

A strong online baking school education can help you pursue your farm to table goals no matter where you're located. To learn more, get in touch with us today.