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Characteristically 'slow' farm-to-table movement picks up the pace, offering faster alternatives

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Posted at 12:00 PM, Jun 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-09 12:00:31-04

CINCINNATI -- When we think of farm-to-table, what comes to mind is usually a slow-food experience, both in the sense of food that is minimally processed and food that’s served to customers who are taking their time to savor it. It’s the opposite of fast food.

Or is it?

In the past couple of years there have been an increasing number of grab-and-go options that are also farm-to-table — locally, sustainably or organically produced, or all three.

Fond Lunch and Deli opened in 2014 in Montgomery as a take-out joint. Owner Ethan Snider boasted, “We’re the fastest slow food around. We won the snail of approval for slow food.”

Much of what Fond sells is pre-made. Most is organic and locally sourced. Snider, who also owns Summah Artisan Hummus, said he buys his ingredients from farmers markets and local farms that include Turner FarmCan-du Farm, Finn Meadow Farm, TS Farms and Jaybird Farms.

He has worked as a chef for many years and in many places, from Indiana to southwest Florida.

“I’ve been a chef forever,” he said. “I’ve been in the restaurant business for 26 years.”

The decision to open a take-out counter (though there are now a few tables for eat-in) was two-fold.

“I’ve worked every night and weekend that you could possibly imagine,” Snider said. “I didn’t really want to do that anymore. I wanted to be my own boss so I could control that, or some of that.”

Snider also added that his penchant for sandwiches influenced his decision.

“I’m a sandwich guy. I want to go get a sandwich for lunch. It’s kind of upsetting to me that it’s hard to find anything that isn’t full of preservatives,” he explained. “I’ve been eating pretty clean for a long time — this part of who I am — and I wanted to make a sandwich shop-type deli for people that wanted to eat clean wanted to eat local stuff and seasonal stuff.

“We don’t make the bread or the cheese, but we make every condiment (and) every pickle.”

And every sandwich.

Rooted Juicery has locations in Oakley and Mariemont. Their quick bites are made from certified organic produce and all their compost goes back to Turner Farm. Photo by Jenny Burman

Another new grab-and-go lunch (and later) option is Rooted Juicery, which opened first in Oakley in June 2015 and more recently in Mariemont. Rooted is vegan, organic and eco-conscious. Manager Kasha Burns explained that the salads, wraps and juices are made from certified organic produce, packaged in compostable materials.

“We’re all about leaving the lowest carbon foot print possible,” Burns said. “We locally source as far as possible. We have a partnership with Turner Farm — we get our wheatgrass and greens from them.”

And they give back, too.

“All of our compost goes back to Turner,” Burns said. “We try to be as circular as possible.”

On the meat side: Tickle Pickle in Northside is a burger bar that sources humanely raised, grass-fed beef for burgers that come in classic red-and-white paper boats.

Park + Vine in Over the Rhine has grab-and-go, cold-case products, as does Dirt: A Modern Market at Findlay Market.

Is this fashion? Or the logical extension of a restaurant scene that features numerous farm-to-table options and a customer base that wants sustainable local food on the regular — and fast?

Time will tell.