Idolizing chefs. And I am not attacking chefs…per se. I am more upset about the consequences. We have made food – and more specifically – eating at certain restaurants a status symbol. You are cool if you have eaten at “x” restaurant. “What do you mean you have never eaten at “y”?!? Are you some kind of heathen that lives under a rock?” The chef scene and the hype about the next, new restaurant has divided us to the have’s and the have not’s. The cool kids and the losers. The “in” crowd and everyone else. You could even extend this division to the elite 1% and the rest of the struggling 99%. Only the privileged can afford to stay in the “in” crowd and try all of the hot, new restaurants. Big money feeds the machine and the egos. I want food and the act of eating it to be more inclusive and egalitarian. Everyone should have access to good, healthy food; everyone should have a seat at the table. Do we need a caste system in dining? That’s my problem with the celebrity chefs and the apparent cult of personalities. It distracts from real food issues. Our food system is corrupt and harmful to us and to the planet. There are grave injustices to a basic human need – the need to eat in order to stay alive. Why the fuck would I care about Gordon Ramsey then? Dropping easily $1000 at Alinea for dinner, how does that make the world a better place? How is following Top Chef going to end the epidemic of food-related diseases facing kids and adults alike? How is following David Chang on Twitter going to stop toxic pesticides and soil erosion in our broken farming system? Tell me.
The National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show descended on McCormick Place in Chicago from May 18th through 21st. Yours truly scored a media pass to attend the show with a goal to look at the show through a sustainability lens. I can say that I am filled up by some things, and fed up with others! (more…)
I know Holly through the hospitality industry. She recently told me she was taking a break from that world and focusing on her writing and her blog. Until then, I had no idea she had an alter ego and co-founder of the brilliant mothersguidetosanity.com. Of course, I had to ask her to contribute to my blog! She was kind enough to oblige. So, Holly, what are you fed up with…
I am fed up with having to do extensive research just to be able to give my kid food or a toy! When did buying things for your kids become a lesson in chemistry? I was shopping for a big boy bed the other day and ran across an article informing me there are dangerous chemicals in the frame and paint. Awesome, just what I need to buy my baby boy. There goes his batman bed. (more…)
Capitalism. Many of the big food companies this week announced that they had to adjust their economic forecasts lower than what they originally calculated. The reason – the Affordable Healthcare Act. I am truly fed up with corporations bemoaning all of the things they are forced to do by the government to provide a fair and decent way of living for their employees. They also recently attacked the notion of raising the minimum wage. Imagine what would happen to the well-being of every human being if they were paid a decent wage and had basic necessities like healthcare covered. And if you are too much of a capitalist to care about individuals, then imagine what would happen to the well-being of the economy if every human being had more disposable income. (more…)
Food waste. I have been managing the chef stage at a major trade show in Chicago for the last 9 days. 4 different chefs each day doing demos and each giving out at least 150 samples to the assembled crowd. I have witnessed big pans of various cooked grains – like quinoa, couscous and polenta – go into the trash. I have seen whole pork tenderloins throw away and big pots of stews go into the garbage. Most often this waste is an imbalance of the chef overestimating how much food to bring for the crowd and also the crowd turnout being smaller than anticipated. The chef doesn’t want to take anything back, and sometimes they can’t (they came in from Canada, for instance). The chefs also bring large amounts of their ingredients for their demonstrations, not use them all, and then toss the leftover product as well. I have seen a lot of food waste in nine days! (more…)
Posted in Opinion
Tagged food waste
I was contacted by the Director of Academic and Career Planning at Alma College. She was bringing a group of students to Chicago to conduct informational interviews. Sarah Najera was one such student and she was interested in talking to people regarding food and sustainability. That’s why I was contacted. In return for my time, I asked her to submit something for my blog reflecting on her Chicago experience and the conversations she had about food and sustainability. Here it is! (more…)
Innovation. If you have been paying attention to the food movement of late, you know one of the issues is the scalability of local farming. In a perfect world, Walmart and the other big box supermarkets would source all of their fresh produce locally. It makes a lot of sense, right? Support local economies, less transportation costs, and better quality. But to make that happen, Walmart needs massive amounts of produce to meet the demand of their millions of customers. It does not work to buy small batches of produce from local, independent farms. Walmart needs to use the big factory farms to make sure they have the volume. Or do they? (more…)
Fracking. Let’s use a bunch of harsh chemicals and water to deplete Mother Earth of even more natural resources. What could possibly be dangerous about tons of toxic water seeping into our farmland? And have we forgotten that natural gas is a fossil fuel just like oil? We will run out at some point leaving behind a devastating carbon footprint. Let’s leave Mother Earth alone and use the water where it is desperately needed most.
the fractured food movement. Throw a rock and you will hit someone eating locally, eating organically, gardening at home, fighting Monsanto, composting, improving kids’ lunch programs, protesting GMOs. Lots of people are passionate about “good food” and there are lots of great causes. But these efforts are fractured and thus diluted. How do we compete with the billion-dollar companies with their big budgets to green-wash and otherwise suppress the truth? How do we compete with billion-dollar lobbyists swaying our politicians and policy makers? We need unity because there is strength in numbers. We don’t need another urban garden seminar…we don’t need another opinionated blogger!!!
the resistance to increasing the minimum wage. As if paying people $2 more is going to cause big companies to collapse under increased labor costs. You know the folks at the top of these companies are making too much money as it is. If you really want to spur the economy, help people have more disposable income. It’s not rocket science – if we want people to spend more money on products and services, make it so that they don’t have to live paycheck to paycheck.