Tonight, get your hands dirty for dinner


Let’s face it, we live in a food culture. We Instagram and Tweet our latest meals, pin every recipe for things we will likely never bake, and obsess over labeling foods “organic” or “grass fed.” This obsession over our food, however, has led to something absolutely phenomenal: the rapidly-growing agritourism industry.

Agritourism in the most general sense is any type of farm-based operation that brings visitors directly to the location where the food is being grown (or raised). This can include local farm stands, events like corn mazes and hayrides, and even long term farm stays where tenants work on the farm during the day and learn the inner workings of the agricultural system.

But perhaps the most enjoyable form that agritourism in the U.S. has taken lately is farm-to-fork dining in the most literal sense. Nearly one thousand farms (and more each month) offer to serve guests at the farm itself, creating masterful meals out of ingredients only found locally, and mostly on their own farms. This al fresco dining experience really brings the meal full circle, allowing guests to hear, feel, and smell the pulsing life of the food sources many of us never pause to think about.

While agritourism and farm-to-fork dining in the U.S. can trace its roots back to a handful of places in the Northwest, variations on the approach can be found across the country. Websites like Agritourismworld have search functions that allow you to locate the nearest agriculture-based businesses. The pricing for these experiences varies, as some places with farm stands will sell you higher quality produce for less than the supermarket, while others might offer exclusive wine tastings that can’t be found anywhere else paired with a matching price tag. No matter what your budget is, a drive into the countryside to get back in touch with your roots (literally) is worth a day trip or more.

For me, my first foray into farm-to-fork dining was in Italy – “Agriturismo” as they elegantly label it. We sat at a long wooden table with three other families, drank embarrassing amounts of wine, and ate even more embarrassing amounts of food. Our view over the lush vineyards and the village of San Gimignano in the distance hardly distracted us from the incredible feast that lay before us. At the end of the meal, I lamented that the experience was unique to Tuscany and that I’d probably never eat like that again. Luckily I was mistaken. It seems agritourism has jumped the pond and came to stay. Being wrong has never tasted so good.


agricultureagritourismfarm to forkfresh
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