Sustainability and the Kitchen

In light of the news surrounding the foie gras ban in California, we’ve chosen to revisit a common debate: Should a chef need to be concerned about how his materials are sourced?  Should chefs necessarily take a stance on the conditions under which food animals are raised, or the environmental impact of growing each plant?  Champions of sustainability say yes, yet those who exalt the creative prowess of the chef above all else may say no.  Naturally, this question stands for any artist and their medium, so let’s take a look at this question as it stands in the American culinary community today.

Thomas Keller and Retort

For Them, a Great Meal Tops Good Intentions — Julia Moskin, The New York Times
An interview with Thomas Keller and Andoni Luis Aduriz on their views toward cooking with sustainability in mind. In this case, the title sums it up: for them aesthetics and delicacy trump all, at least when it comes to fine dining. To focus on anything else would be to disrupt the artistic process of the chef, preventing him for adequately performing his duties.

Thomas Keller’s Disappointing Stance on Sustainable Cooking — Nick Wiseman, The Huffington Post
A contrasting opinion in direct response to the positions laid out above. Mr Wiseman notes the power of well-known, respected chefs to effect great change in the world, or at the very least to influence public opinion. This article occasionally reads more like a lament than a call to action, but the points being made are certainly valid.

“Farm-to-Table”

Finding Sustainable Burgers in TexasThe Daily Meal
This article is really more of a restaurant guide than a newspiece, but all the same its observations of a state known for its steaks reflect the condition of finding sustainable meat across America.

Sustainable Seas

3 Apps For Eating Seafood Sustainably — Eleanor West, Food Republic
This quick bite of a story profiles 3 simple apps that help diners choose their fish dinner based on the fish’s ecological condition. In each app, fish are marked by an ecological evaluation of how sustainably each is being fished, noting those to avoid and those to go for.

Chilean Sea Bass: It’s Baaaack! — Brad A Johnson, Food Republic
Mr Johnson admits to having ‘fallen off the wagon’ when it comes to avoiding Chilean Sea Bass, a fish that is frequently avoided in the name of sustainability. In light of his newly-re-discovered guilty passion for the fish, Johnson comments on the fish’s actual ecological state, and the nature of the predicament surrounding its place on many chefs’ ‘Do-Not-Fry’ list.

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