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What does 'farm to table' mean? A Nebraska farmer explains

What does 'farm to table' mean? A Nebraska farmer explains

Only $3 for 13 weeks

When considering the phrase “farm to table,” what images or words come to mind?

Maybe words like fresh, wholesome, nutritious, clean or safe pop into your mind.

Do you picture a Norman Rockwell-type farmer dressed in striped overalls and a straw hat delivering an overflowing basket of fresh produce and meat that seems to have a glow about it? If so, that’s exactly what marketers and advertisers want to invoke in the consumer to justify the extra cost of a product without actually defining what it means to be considered “farm to table.”

Today, in light of the current coronavirus pandemic, I believe we are thinking a bit differently about the idea of “farm to table.” We are now looking at it as more of a supply chain term. Now is an important time to truly focus on and form an understanding of how our food really travels from the farm to the table.

First of all, it takes farmers and farm workers to grow and harvest the crops and meat that go into our American food chain. Yes, these are the hard-working folks, in a weather- and time-sensitive environment, who get our food production rolling. “To everything, there is a season ... a time to plant and a time to harvest.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2)

Next, farm products need a reliable transportation system that can move crops, produce and animals to processing, storage warehouses or retailers. We depend on trucks, trains, planes and their operators (those who load and unload) as well as the behind-the-scenes people who track loads and inventory to keep the food moving.

Food processors are a vital part of our food supply chain. They may be small or large, family-owned, a cooperative or a large corporate entity. Processors may create their brands, sell to wholesalers or retailers, or move product on to other processors. Minimal processing that completely transforms the farm product into a very desirable product for consumers also happens at this level.

Additionally, we have USDA and FDA inspections and regulations to give us confidence in a safe food supply as it passes through the supply chain.

The route our food takes from farm to table can be very simple or complex. Farmers and animal producers have choices as to how they will market into the food supply chain, just as consumers also have a choice on direct-from-farm purchases or the grocery store. No matter the choice, Americans can count on a safe and nutritious food supply.

As of this writing, during this coronavirus pandemic, safe and nutritious food is still available, although we are facing limited choices in some cases.

Denise McAfee and her husband, Jeff, farm and feed cattle south of Leigh, Nebraska. Having worked for 13 years off the farm, Denise is happy to now be working with Jeff, whether on a tractor, working cattle, caring for an occasional bottle calf or keeping the farm books. The McAfees have two grown children, daughter Blythe and son Boone. Both are UNL East Campus alumni like their parents, are involved in ag-related careers and continue to be active on the family farm. Denise is in her first year as a volunteer with CommonGround and looks forward to sharing her farm experiences with consumers.


Cheeseburger Pizza


1 12” pizza crust, store-bought or homemade

1 pound ground beef

2 teaspoons seasoned salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

½ onion, diced

¼ cup mayo

3 tablespoons ketchup

1 teaspoon hot sauce

2 cups Colby Jack cheese, shredded

½ cup dill pickle chips, drained

Ketchup and mustard


Preheat oven to 425 F.

Brown hamburger over medium heat with the salt, pepper and onion. Drain any excess fat.

Meanwhile, combine the mayo, ketchup and hot sauce, whisk until smooth. Evenly spread mixture over pizza crust. Top with the cooked ground beef, followed by the cheese. Drizzle desired amount of ketchup and mustard over top of pizza, place pickle chips on top.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until center is bubbly and crust a golden brown.

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