The freshest destinations from farm to table

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Farmers market, Vermont (Photo: Andre Jenny)
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on June 12, 2006. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: activity, Anne Banas and Christine Sarkis, culinary travel, destination, Massachusetts, Napa, New York, Oregon, Quebec, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, vacation package, Vancouver, Vermont, Washington.

Few travelers are aware that food can travel almost as far as they do, if not farther, to reach a destination. In fact, most products are transported 1,500 miles on average to get from were they are grown to where they are eaten. As a result, food has become less regional, a serious drawback for travelers who believe that tasting the flavors of an area—like fresh maple syrup while in Vermont or local wine while in Napa—are a vital part of the experience.

Some destinations, however, are returning to the land to offer their freshest bounty and are presenting it locally, naturally, and directly from their farms to your table.

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Eating local helps ensure an authentic culinary experience, giving people exceptional taste and freshness while bringing them closer to the source. It also allows travelers to give back to the local community. According to Tracey Ryder, co-founder of Edible Communities, it "builds a significant relationship between eater and farmer, and people know they can trust where their food is coming from." She adds, "as much as the food is helping to sustain us, we're helping to sustain those who grow it."

But what makes regional food special for travelers? Erik Wolf, President & CEO of the International Culinary Tourism Association, says that "Food involves all five of the human senses, so it has a higher chance to make a longer lasting impression than any other tourist attraction. And foods that are fresh and local will make a better impression than those that aren't."

As more places in North America realize their potential as food destinations, unique opportunities are arising for visitors. With this concept, often expressed as "farm-to-table," people don't just sit and eat, but can get involved with their food by visiting or staying on a working farm, taking outdoor cooking classes, picking produce ripe from a garden, or learning about whole food production through tours and hands-on experience. And of course, there's quite a bit of eating, too.

Here are several destinations with an abundance of farm-to-table offerings.

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