Blog : Food & Health

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: FARM TO TABLE 

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: FARM TO TABLE 

One of the greatest parts of working in coffee, is the ability to meet and befriend amazing people Alex and Kait are two people who exemplify this perfectly. Known to most as Jimmy And Spade Eat, we are honored to have them guest blog for us from time to time. Cheers!
In the food world trends come and go. Last year we were all going crazy over our acai bowls. A few months ago we couldn’t stop posting pics of our designer doughnuts. Just like with anything else, food trends are ever changing—they come and go. We have gotten some of our greatest culinary achievements through food trends. Noodles in the first century, soufflés of the early eighteenth century, or the great fondue craze of the 1970’s. Where would we be without all of these innumerable food trends? They all build off of each other and help to create something new. Like a saucier with their 5 sauce bases. Food trends, much like fashion trends, tend to rotate. We’ve all been drinking our kombucha lately, but this is an ancient Asian drink that has been around for thousands of years.

Every year my family holds a family reunion where we share laughs, food, and history. My grandfather writes a yearly article about his experiences as a child with his brothers and sisters. He grew up on a small farm in Ohio, which was the topic of this year’s article. As I read through the memories brought to life through words, I had a few thoughts. My first was of hunger as he named all the different foods his mother would make with products from the farm. My second was of the subtle food trend that has been bolstering over the past decade. We have seen the farm to table concept sweep across the US and grow in popularity. From small pop-up events and special seasonal menus, restaurants being wholly devoted to the concept, and even those few “big box” places; the farm-to-table movement is evident. I have been a huge advocate of this passion for years, from natural and humanely raised animals to organic and non-GMO produce, but more specifically—local sourcing. As I continued to ponder these thoughts I started putting the pieces of the puzzle together in my head. While farm to table may be a movement reaching from coast to coast, and it is an admirable passion, it is not a trend at all. This is simply a call to return to basic communal living. Farm to table and local sourcing are not something we should hold as a fad of fodder, moreover it should be revered as our most basic way of living. 

Eating, selling, and buying locally grown produce and meat is what we have been doing as humans for millennia. Starting as far back as ancient Mesopotamia where we first learned that living together in a civilization is mutually advantageous rather than nomadic hunting and gathering. Moving forward into ancient Roman culture where we learned to control waterways and increased our agricultural outreach. Throughout the industrial revolution we learned new trades and skills as well as living in smaller, closer quarters, yet we always survived by working together through trade and bartering. As we moved into colonial America and learned farming traditions of local native americans, we continued to survive by working together. As you trail through the centuries to modern day America there has always been farmers who fed our local towns. This seemed  to come to an abrupt halt in the mid 20thcentury. With the invention of frozen dinners and fast food on the rise, we took convenience over community. The baby boomer generation became a generation of heater-uppers. I think over the last 50 or so years we can see this has not been the best decision. We can see health issues and a lack of community from this trend. While we might live in the modern 21st century with technology thriving and literally everything at our fingertips, I think it is time for a change. We must learn to live and work together as a community rather than autonomous islands. We order everything from new clothes to appliances online, we even uber our food to our homes now. While these technological advances may ease our lives, they simply are not sustainable for community. We as a new generation must break through the glowing screens to keep our community alive.

I feel as though I must digress for a moment. I am making this out to be some arduous revolution of sorts, of which it is not. I am simply making the argument to remember the farmers. We can have healthy delicious food while also supporting our local economy and welfare. Maybe you don’t have the green thumb, but I assure you there is a farm within 200 miles that can support you. To make matters even easier we have multiple farmer’s markets in the area and almost every town has their own. (Northside Farmers MarketHowland Farmers MarketWarren Farmers Market, etc.) Get out there and get to know your community. If you’re looking for a simpler route we have a co-op that serves the area. It’s as simple as a click of a button. You can go online, pick out the products you’d like, and have them delivered to an assigned drop off point in the Valley—laketorivercoop.com! As our new friend Melissa Miller of Miller Livestock said to me, “…eating local; it used to just be called eating.” The banner we wave here at Jimmy and Spade is connecting people. This is our intention and our mission, from restaurants, cafés, coffee shops, patrons, and owners. This is just one more facet of our community we would like to connect you too.
Tasting or Drinking?

Tasting or Drinking?

This blog post has been written by Ben Ratner, co-owner of LiB’s Marketplace in Salem, Ohio. Ben has extensive experience in food and wine, and has been working in the coffee profession since opening Lib’s with is wife Lindsay. We are proud to partner with LiB’s in bringing you this outstanding class, taught by Ben himself to help us all expand our enjoyment of our food and drink. Without further ado:

When you enjoy coffee are you drinking it or tasting it? The difference is subtle but measurable. Most people looking for a quick pick-me up may fall into the “just drinking” category while those looking to experience something more; a connection with their coffee, land more on the tasting side of things.

In specially coffee we are always striving for that something extra. It could be learning more background or production info, that season’s particular weather, anything to allow us to feel more connected to the cup and the lives of those that made it possible to get from a farm to your belly.

Perhaps sometimes we lose the most important factor in coffee. Behind the specifics in climate, growing region, processing methods, bean elevation, the name of the farmers first born and so on…the most important thing being; is it delicious and tasty?

After we have qualified a coffee as delicious, does it stop there? Of course not! We need to know why that cup stands out, and as coffee professionals we need to be able to explain to a guest of our café, or orderer on our online shop, and in some ways insure the type of experience they will have after making a purchase. Similarly, it’s a coffee professional’s job to be able to pick out flaws on the production side before adding a specific bean to the offering list so they know if it will properly represent the shop that will be presenting it to the consumer.

Here is where sensory evaluation comes into play. Your palate is like a muscle, and it takes practice to teach our brain and sensory systems to work together to pick out regional notes and flaws a like.

This is where Branchstreet Coffee Roasters, LiB’s Market and you come into the picture! We are partnering up for an awesome intro into sensory perception workshop to take place at Branchstreet on May 21, at 3:00pm. We will discuss how to start making connections between your sensory systems that will get you on the path to being a better perceiver in general which will lead to having a more enriched experience in life not just coffee tasting because these skills will make it possible to feel that much more connected to the things we consume.

As humans on this journey called life, our memories and experiences will last a lifetime. Join us to make some memories and get the ball rolling on becoming a better taster. Those wishing to get started and those looking for a  refresher or if you just want to be sure you’re fully enjoying the things you consume and squeezing every last drop from life! Join us.