Over the course of the past several years, I have begun to develop a fascination with the concept of farm to table dining. Although I am uncertain as to the exact origin of my interest, watching Food Inc. and reading Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser definitely attributed. Recently I have noticed that I have lost my desire to eat most of the sugary snacks I once enjoyed as a child. I realized that I did not want to eat the items that were made in factories with ingredients that I could not pronounce, packed with preservatives, and left to lay on supermarket shelves. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my fair share of junk food, but I now tend to frequent the organic isle of the grocery store rather than the cookie isle. It has prompted me to eat consciously. I began to appreciate the beauty in raw fruits and vegetables and lose the childhood mentality that all vegetables are bad.
After reading Scholssers eye-opening representation of what American food culture has become, I was taken aback. I could not believe that the fruits and vegetables of my grocery store were not “all-natural”. For many restaurants, gone are the days of using local ingredients straight from the farm. Major food producers create the flavor of their food in a chemical lab. By mixing a multitude of chemical substances together, they are able to create identical flavor profiles to real ingredients. For example, the flavor of a strawberry can be created with the unique combination of approximately 350 chemicals in minute amounts. It is more economical and efficient for chains to use chemical flavoring as opposed to natural ingredients.
Labels that picture scenic farms and healthy livestock are but a mere image of a nonexistent reality. Consumers have been lead to believe every chicken or gallon of “farm fresh milk” were product of a sustainable ranch where the poultry or milking cows are treated with the highest care, able to roam around a pasture. Unfortunately this is not the case. Americans believe that there are hundreds, if not thousands of companies responsible for the making of the products in their pantry, when in reality a majority can be traced back to the same few production facilities.
Several weeks ago I asked my mom if we could take a trip to Salem for Halloween. Since we have already been, she suggested Sleepy Hollow, NY instead. I agreed that would be a good option, and began to research what there was to do in the area. It did not take long for me to discover the nearby tours of Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Upon seeing the stunning pictures of the landscape, what I like to call “happy cows”, and realizing that owner Dan Barber was featured on one of my favorite series, Netflix’s Chef’s Table , I knew that this was something I had to do. My mom was up for it. She bought the tickets and the next thing you know, we are at the farm.
At 10:00am we assisted in herding the turkeys. They are moved from their spacious pen to the woods for the entire day. They are allowed to roam freely and then are lead back at night. This idea of allowing the animal to live as if it would in nature is something that I admire. It is that dedication to providing not only an exceptional flavor, but also for the well-being of the animal that makes Stone Barns incredible. We then proceeded to gather eggs from the chickens.
Later in the day, we picked eggplant in the field and foraged for peppers. Even my mom who isn’t much of an outdoor-sy gal was really enjoying it, it is hard not to find the farm incredible!
For an afternoon snack I indulged on their cafè, The Grain Bars’ sweet potato yogurt and a whole grain croissant. The yogurt was unlike anything I have ever tasted. The tart flavor was unexpected but delightful. The croissant was exceptional… EXCEPTIONAL. I have been on a mission to find a croissant that is flaky and delicious enough to compare to the ones I had in Europe in July and this was the first that was able to do so. I wish I brought some home with me!
We concluded our day with meeting the sheep and a scenic walk through the property. I am so glad I was able to experience a day in the life on the farm. I will definitely be back!