A less than appetizing dining experience

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The concept of farm to table is an idea that has really gained traction over the past few years. For those unfamiliar with the term, it basically means that one’s food is produced, processed, prepared and served, all within a very close proximity to the consumer. In other words, the food is locally grown.

When this fashionable trend first started, it made me realize that all of my meals, for the first 18 years of my life, were of the farm-to-table variety. All of our meat was produced on the farm, and many of the meals actually had a name at one time. Most of our vegetables were hand-picked, about a 100 yards from where they were eventually eaten, and the bi-monthly trips to the grocery store were to purchase staples, such as sugar, flour, baking powder and other necessities that we either couldn’t, or didn’t produce on our farm. Once again, I was ahead of my time and didn’t even realize it.

My wife and I don’t eat out much at all anymore. On a recent special occasion, where we did choose to eat at a nice restaurant, we chose a farm-to-table-themed eatery, and were not disappointed. The food seemed fresher and tastier, like it used to when I was a kid, so I both admire and appreciate what these new-fangled (old-fashioned) eateries are trying to accomplish, by serving the best food available, as freshly prepared as possible. But, last week, I got to experience the polar opposite of farm to table.

Circumstances occurred that required me, once again, to spend three days in the hospital. I felt fine, but the old ticker was acting up to the point the doctors wanted to keep a close eye on me. This visit to the hospital necessitated me to consume several meals in their fine facility. Each morning, a nice lady from food services would call my room and ask me to order my meals for the rest of that day and the next morning. Now, I realize the dietitians’ hands are somewhat tied by the restrictions placed by the physician. Things like salt, fat, sugar, seasoning and taste were evidently prohibited by my doctor, so when I ordered breakfast, the most common answer to my requests, were, “Sorry, you can’t have that.”

After five minutes of those answers, I finally said, “Well, just give me what you can.”

The next morning, I was presented with two, hard-boiled eggs (no salt), a small bowl of fruit that looked embarrassed to be there and one lone pancake that appeared to be less than one-eighth of an inch in thickness. To say I was disappointed would be the understatement of the year, but I proceeded to pour the one ounce packet of sugar-free, imitation syrup on the pitiful excuse for a pancake. As I attempted to cut the first bite with the edge of my fork, the top of the pancake separated from the rest, but the piece would not allow my fork to slide under it. Since a putty knife was not supplied with the meal, I was able to use the knife handle as a mallet to drive my fork under the flapjack, dislodging it from the plate. The taste of the dislodged piece, made the effort seem a waste of time.

As of yet, farm to table has not translated to, farm to bedside table.

Jerry Crownover farms in Lawrence County. He is a former professor of Agriculture Education at Missouri State University, and is an author and professional speaker. To contact Jerry, go to ozarksfn.com and click on ‘Contact Us.’

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