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Farm to Table

By Lydia Baldridge Meier

I love food. Going to the grocery store, cooking and eating at restaurants are among my favorite pastimes. I’m a fan of all food, be it discovering that ordering hen of the woods gets you mushrooms or trying the latest Cheeto. I’ve learned with interest about the farm to table movement and its various benefits to environment, economy, health. For us in the United States, farm to table signals intimacy and a short path from the food’s origin to your reclaimed-wood restaurant table.

For farmers in developing countries, the farm to table path is both very short and very long. Most farmers are subsistence farmers, meaning that most of their crop is for their family’s own consumption, with only a small portion available from a good harvest to sell or trade for other necessities. This is a very short path from the farm to the table.

And yet, small-scale farmers comprise half of the world’s undernourished people and a majority of people living in absolute poverty. In the time leading up to harvest, these farmers experience a “hungry season” in which they struggle to pay for family necessities, including food. The lag time means making the choice between paying for children’s school or food. In countries with just one or two planting seasons, harvest earnings – crop and cash – must stretch many months and across many mouths. This is the very long road between the farm and the table.

This summer, we will take this journey from farm to table all around the world. What it means to us in the United States. What it means to farmers in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America. What are the challenges, what are the wins, what are the ideas for the future. We’ll share the voices of farmers who are using Opportunity loans to improve their harvests; of agriculture staff spreading their expertise; of Opportunity supporters whose own agricultural businesses have been so successful as to enable them to share that abundance. We look forward to your voice in this conversation. 

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