Farm-to-table eating is not something many partake in anymore, though it used to be all people knew. Now there are so many other options, including fast food and processed food, that many in the health care fields are waging a whole food campaigns to better Americans’ diets.

There may be more benefits to fresh food than most people realize. According to Laura Graves, the family and community health agent at the Texas A&M Extension Office, farm-to-table food comes directly from the source where it was grown.

“Farm-to-Table means just that,” she said, “taking produce or meats from its origin source, a farm or ranch, and making it into a meal whether by some method of cooking like with meats or leaving it raw, like you would lettuce. This method is one of the best ways to ensure highest nutrient content in your dish, second to growing the food yourself.”

She added farm-to-table foods have higher nutrient and vitamin content than their stored counterparts. That’s because they do not spend as much time in transit as food found in a grocery store. The fresher the food, the higher the nutrient content. That’s generally why the best nutrients are normally found around the perimeter of a grocery store.

“This, of course, doesn’t mean that canned or frozen vegetables are not good options. Just be aware they will have less vitamin content than fresh produce because they lose some during the cooking or blanching process,” Graves said.

Being aware of the labels on the food is a good way to ensure it’s freshness.

An article posted to CNN states fresh food has a better flavor. Fruits and vegetables found at a grocery store may actually taste different than those that are freshly grown and quickly eaten.

While nutrients and flavor are major benefits, they’re not the only benefits of farm-to-table eating.

Cheri Bedford, Main Street coordinator and manager of the Market Square Farmer’s Market, said another benefit is that the buyer generally knows the farmer. When eating at particular restaurants or eating canned foods, there is no certainty as to where the food being consumed has come from. Some customers find that worrisome.

But when buying food directly from the farmer or at a restaurant that sells fresh food, those customers can eat at ease, knowing they are eating quality food.

A great opportunity for local farm-to-table foods is found weekly at the farmer’s market.

“Farmer’s markets provide a great way to get foods direct from their source, usually from local farmers and ranchers, to the consumer,” Graves said.

Another great option to receive fresh foods is eating at Paris Bakery. Bedford said Paris Bakery cooks with a lot of fresh food, and even buys some of its food from the farmer’s market.

Annabelle Smallwood is a recent graduate of Trinity Christian Academy and a freelance writer for The Paris News.

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