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"Farm-to-Table": 1914 - 1920

The End of Farm-to-Table


The Post Office had devised a wonderful way of communicating between farmer and customer. But there is more to a revolution than communication, and within a few years the farm-to-table movement, which started out with such high hopes, was dead. The problem was that [the U.S. Post Office] trucks began to break down, which meant that the food on board spoiled. Eggs proved hard to package, and so they often arrived damaged. Butter went rancid.

Gladwell, M. (1999), "Clicks & Mortar." The New Yorker, December 6, p. 115


According to Cullen's analysis (2010), Congress decided to eliminate the funding for the Farm-to-Table initiative in 1920 for several reasons:



The end of World War I reduced the public's willingness to tolerate the inherent inconveniences of the program;

Congress was not willing to provide additional funding for a program that was tied to a war that was now won;

The new self-serve grocery stores presented a novelty that lured customers away from the parcel post; and

The problems with time-sensitive delivery of fragile foodstuffs described above by Gladwell