Now retired, Tony Ehinger served Credit Suisse for some 25 years, most recently as co-head of global securities in the investment banking division. As a citizen concerned with a sustainable environment, Tony Ehinger is involved with the farm-to-table movement, which he supports at his farm in Harding, New Jersey.
Farm-to-table is a response to the predominance of processed food in Western diets. This trend began with the introduction of mechanized transport; previously, consumers’ pantries were filled with food brought in from 50 miles away at most.
As railways and trucks carried more and more freight over the last century, that distance grew dramatically. Now, fruits and vegetables travel an average of 1,500 miles. Many times, they are picked prematurely so they will mature in transit. These long-distance foods may have fewer nutrients than food allowed to ripen on the vine and are more likely to have chemicals that can lead to health problems.
Although the farm-to-table concept is well established, it did not catch on with the public until the advent of restaurants serving local foods. As consumers want more, co-ops and farmers’ markets have stepped in to meet a growing demand.
In addition to promoting health, eating locally has other benefits. Reduced fuel consumption and greenhouse gases aid the environment. Fresh food becomes more appealing as farmers prioritize taste and health rather than ease of transport. Purchases of farm-to-table food put money back into local or regional economies and help small farmers maintain their standard of living.