I recently returned from a trip to my native India, a land ripe with the energetic contrast between tradition and the edge of change. There’s a palpable energy between deeply rooted ideas – be it traditions, institutions or brands – and ideas that have yet to be realized.
This is the space where innovation breeds, where real change is possible. And showing up differently is vital to actualizing change. It doesn’t mean abandoning one’s foundation; rather, using that foundation as a springboard for what’s next. Fresh ideas need roots to grow.
The farm-to-table movement is one of the many spaces where we see this potential for change. This growing trend is exploring the interplay between fundamentals, like food and farming, and new ideas that are making us rethink how we eat, work, and live.
Not far from NYC, at the Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture, I attended a panel discussion featuring Alice Waters and Dan Barber, leaders in the farm-to-table ethos. What struck me was this incredible dynamic between their core values – food, farming, education – and what they see as happening next. They’ve achieved this by using their fundamentals as a basis from which to view the world, in the context of an ever-changing “now.”
“What’s next” for these food pioneers has less to do with new-fangled recipes, ingredients or cooking techniques and everything to do with getting back to basics. We all eat. It’s that simple. And considering where we sit today regarding health and nutrition, sustainable land use and the well-being of the next generation, they’re asking us to eat with intention. To become food citizens and actively change the way we engage with our food system, from how and where food is grown, to who’s growing it and how it’s prepared.
I had a glimpse of how this movement is affecting real change half-way around the world in Goa, India, as I witnessed farm-to-table conversations in action – a restaurant owner engaging with a local village farmer. Beyond buying local produce at the market, this restaurant wanted to go one step further and work hand-in-hand with a local farm to customize produce to their needs. Good for the farmer, good for the restaurant, good for the community. Real change, brought about by fresh ideas, rooted in fundamentals.
Aysha Venjara is a creative director and SVP with BioScience Communications.