The Sustainability Claim

Notes for Talk on Sustainable Claim:

Written for talk on Women, Chefs, and Restauranteurs in Los Angeles 4/18

I’m a caterer on Marth’a Vineyard and supporting my local farmer’s is what gets me excited! We have been creating menus with fresh produce from our Vineyard fields, and seafood from our our shores for 26 years!

Because of my experience with our local farmers. I have come to understand their challenges and developed strong relationships and have become more than an advocate for the local farming community!

The sustainability CLAIM – how it impacts you and your food…
There is so much – I am not even sure where to begin – honestly do we begin with BIG BAD AG or with a beautiful charming farming stories? Do we try to define sustainability or do we ask questions of our own practices and face our own challenges about how to be less of an impact on the environment with our buying power?

Sustainability is much richer than having a light impact.  It’s about relationships and conversations and passion and beauty and Joy AND TASTE
We know a sustainable kitchen sources its ingredients carefully and cooks seasonally,
but how far do we go when we make this claim?.

We are at now is a crossroads.
We live in a world where local and farm to table is in, so
where do we draw the line and when do we cross over and completely buy in?
If we can’t get good lettuce, do we take it off the menu?
But before we take it off, can we define what is good?
Is it enough to say that our lettuce is grown organically? or locally?
Do we put it on the menu when it is not available from good sources because that is what our diners want and are asking for or do we change the offerings- teaching our clients how wonderful a local root salad is with Crosby Egyptian Beets with our Mermaid Farm Feta made from Guernsey Biodynamically Raised Cows with Pepperbox Poppy seeds and pedals
OR IS THIS SIMPLY TOO MUCH INFORMATION?

I don’t think we need to tell the whole story on our menus because we will wear our diners out,
But,  WE  have to KNOW the story behind each variety that we bring to our table IF we are going to call it sustainable.

But this get so darn complicated…
It is not enough to say you have organic strawberries (strawberries are one of the fruits that should not be eaten unless it is organic- the conventional ones when tested contained 17 pesticides- this is not an sustainable example.

It is also not enough to say that we offer grass fed beef  on our menus . While we may grab the attention of our  paleo diner when we  offer grass fed beef.  We have to ask ourselves:  Is this coming from a farmer  that we can  have a conversation with or is your distributor selling you grass fed beef that because this is the new menu craze?
Buyer beware: is this meat  from the Amazon rain forest that has been cleared to raised grass fed cattle?
I need to digress on one paragraph on unsustainability
Slaughtering the Amazon in the name of grass fed is our biggest single cause of global deforestation, which is in turn responsible for 20 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases.  Even Brazil’s government, whose policies have made the nation the world’s largest beef exporter, and home to the planet’s largest commercial cattle herd, acknowledges that cattle ranching is responsible for 80 percent of Amazonian deforestation.  Much of the remaining 20 percent is for land to grow soy, which is not used to make tofu.  It is sold to China to feed livestock.

But that is just one small example of the idea of sustainability gone bad.
And  there are so many stories of how we are ruining the environment.
I think our short time talking about the sustainable claim is better spend telling stories of how relationship are being built and how those relationships can influence policy change and change practices. And we can talk about tastes and flavors.

The relationships between chefs and producers CAN BE  particularly intimate.
It can be a dance between a farmer and chef determining together whether dried corn makes tastier cornmeal when it is flash-frozen before grinding.

Or it can be a menu item offered in a restaurant of creamy-textured red peas and heirloom rice, flavored with artisanal Berkshire bacon fat and fresh herbs grown by the chef or we can talk about local heroes who are changing the landscape like
Glenn Roberts, the owner of Anson Mills in Columbia, S.C.
As many of you may know— he is a grower of heirloom grains across the region, and a walking Wikipedia on the agricultural history-

When we know where we have been and what went wrong we can begin to make it right and we can make good choices that will have a positive impact on our planet.

Through Glen’s stories we learn about the wide of varieties like: Carolina Gold rice, 10 varieties of heirloom Southern dent corn, buckwheats, and wheats  that  flourished in plantations and paddies along the coast of North Carolina and Georgia. The flavor of Carolina rice made it world famous; the finest grains were hand-pounded, barrel-aged and scented with bay leaves. From African slaves, white farmers learned to rotate crops of peas with rice, to replenish the soil; they learned that the two foods, eaten together, could sustain life over many months of winter or hardship.

At harvest, peas — usually flavorful red or cream-colored varieties — were eaten green and fresh, in a dish called “reezy peezy”. In winter, the dried peas (what Northerners call beans) were the standard for hoppin’ John.

Later, when mechanized farming took hold, black-eyed peas (which Mr. Roberts described as “burpy” and starchy) become dominant because they were easy to grow, with high yields. And machine-milled rice, sprayed with vitamins and pesticides, became the standard.  It was a beginning example  of  “Machining takes the flavor nuances out,”  (Quote by Glenn Roberts)

This is the beginning of efficiency taking the place of sustainability.
We lost more than taste – we lost a way of life – a healthier way of life – an interrelationship of plants that replenished the soils   –

Across the landscape of historical agriculture we can see examples of this.

Thank you Glenn Roberts for telling the story because we can begin to understand why we need to nurture our farmers who are bringing it back and we can educate our diners and we can get passionate about the tastes!

We know that eating food grown well with compost and raised close to home, builds health and relationships that directly contributes to the health of our larger  community. But do we ask our farmers about their growing practices? Will we buy eggs from a local farmer who is  feeding the hens GMO grain? Do we assume farming practices are in alignment with the caring for our environment? Are we brave enough to ask?
What are our motives? Are we trendy or are we a part of the solution? Are we driven by tastes? or passion to find a better way?  As stewards of food and mavens of the kitchen, sustainability is the answer. We really can’t afford to do it any other way… our health in general is declining because of bad food choices.

The farm-to-table movement started as a reaction to Big Ag’s chemically controlled monoculture. The words “artisanal,” and “handmade,” these words have often become  empty and often meaningless. Here is a perfect example of a label on a side of a green beans box.
The label said :
“The vegetables in this box were grown in the dirt, on a farm”
Ok, seriously, ALL vegetables are GROWN!  most vegetables are grown in dirt (except hydroponically)  Here is marketing food as though it is grown in a good way- but NOTHING on the box told us HOW it was grown and that is the question WE MUST ASK our suppliers-
I would question the use of the name “farmer” –
Is the farmer just another factory or is this a family saving seeds, replenishing the land – who is to know if we do not ask the questions? We have to ASK, ASK and Ask.  Yes, it is ok if we don’t understand – because conversations build relationships….
I question that word farm because animal factories are almost always referred to as farms.

This whole farm to table movement is an interesting one:
Farm to table COULD describe a philosophy or a style of cooking.
there are so many words that we hear —so many words that provoke the idea farm to table:
But is it a movement?
Putting locally sourced food on your menu, can be daunting and frustrating as chefs, if we don’t start a conversation with our famers.
In this farm to table craze, it is easy to find distributors who will sell produce labeled local and even organic Let’s keep the conversation going: is organic food that is flown across the country, sustainable? I am not professing answers, but I believe we can begin change by asking questions.

I have been served a whole roasted Chicken with the head and feet falling off the plate.
For most diners, I am not sure this is the concept that we want to sell.

I have also been served a multi leveled several days long process of face bacon from backyard Berkshire pigs.. Delicious and fun but also incredibly time consuming…
Whole farm animals are great opportunities to work with what we have!
Taking the time to invest in a canning project or preserving bacon brings long time rewards and adds profit to your kitchen.

It must be a table that supports the farm.
 When chefs turn it around and ask the farmer how they can support the farm, the farmer’s are responding and bring us cherished produce. Produce,  that perhaps they do not have a large crop of, but these can be so very special!…old varieties that are known for their taste but perhaps not necessarily for the ability to travel well or produce well are what we are looking for as chefs.  These can be the highlife of our menus! Imagine a farmer giving you 2# of the most amazing blackberry you have ever tasted.
Place two blackberries as a surprise on top of a salad or alongside a dessert- the taste  of a small, unassuming blackberry can be the deal breaker! I say, make the plate with the taste and it will leave us wanting MORE!

Old strains of blackberries, muscadines and scuppernongs  and  names like  Falstaff brussels sprouts and lucky green eggplants served family style are something to get excite about. Many of these varieties could easily disappear, but because farmers are learning from chefs that no matter how small their harvest of precious varieties  of an heirloom fruit or vegetable,  a farmer  can showcase it on a menu, even if it will only serve a few portions…

How many of you are familiar wth the the Honeynut squash?
This is an Adorable serving-sized mini butternut with dark tan skin and great sweet flavor.
How about King Harry Potatoes? I love descriptions of  varieties and I love  this term:
“Heirlooms: Seeds with a Face, a Place and a Taste”
Long Pie Pumpkin, which looks like an overgrown green zucchini in the garden, doesn’t turn orange until well into storage, yet makes pies which can only be described as “divine.”
Byron Flint Corn OR Smelly Stone bush beans. Yukon golds have been replaced with station reds  dark red northland  or magic molly purple.
The list goes on and on- and our farmers are proud to share their treasure if we take what they have when they have it and show case their produce. It is when we  purchase the extra 5# of yogurt or the 10# of strawberries that are less than perfect… our long term rewards can be great! This is building lasting relationships between farmer and chef.

The restaurant menu, has traditionally been a beginning first course followed by a very large potion of animal protein on the center of the plate, but chefs that are using local ingredients are changing these menus:
Yes you can find a $95.00 100% grass-fed Sirloin, but unless your are feeding a wealthy paleo, this isn’t going to be your most popular  menu item…  (but if we offer amazing vegetable dishes,
We are seeing  more center of the plates often with Glen Roberts’ Anson Mills polenta, beans,  fresh dug potatoes, today’s harvested vegetables. Plates are smaller and  so is animal protein (as it should be!) and as chef’s we are making it is more interesting and more flavorful…we can train our diners to share a $95.00 steak  for the table keeping every diner completely  satisfied and this is how we change the dinning experience to be sustainable.

I have to share how much the family dinner has changed since the 60 and 70s.
There were 10 kids in my family and we were not by any means poor, but we shared one whole chicken once a week. And that chicken was served with a lot of potatoes, iceberg lettuce and canned green beans. Can you imagine a family of 12 today trying to split a chicken 12 ways? We thought nothing of eating more potatoes and more beans than a few slices of meat.
I share this picture because it is proof that OVER SERVING  of meat portions have grown  out of control.

When farms drive the menu: We see more peasant foods
Cassoulets, Chowders, Stews, Stocks- They are created because that is what is available.

I talk to a lot of chefs and those who are buying the animals and sourcing wth great  products end up with a grander plan than just farm-to-table cuisine. You can’t help but to think about  agrarian roots and traditions and develop an URGE to get back to that way….

Michael Pollan says
“Just eat what your great-grandma ate”
As creators of the menu and the plate, lets start there! I can assure you that the our grandfathers did not eat lettuce 8 or even 6 months out of the year if they were from the Northern part of the country, but I know they ate loads of cabbage- cabbage every way
fermented and raw
and cooked and wrapped and shredded and layered.
AND they ate toot vegetables: canned and preserved
And that is what we have consider.

When we support our farmers, we have the opportunity to ask farmers what their challenges are:
Perhaps they have too much milk? or too much yoghurt or too many bones in their freezer, or too many strawberries that are not perfect or pears or melons…
and as a chef, you may say:
“What could I Possibly do with 5 gallons of yogurt or 100 # of bones?” But farmers need our help so that they can sustain themselves.
If you are daunted by the idea of 5 gallons of yogurt  or you feel you are too busy to deal with a box of over ripe tomatoes that a farmer has just offered:  then Pose it to your staff: Give them the challenge:
“What can we do with 5 gallons of yogurt??”
These are the experiences that brings people together: solving problems together- and it builds relationships;

And you know what? Building relationships ultimately brings us joy ( well MOSTLY!)
Farm to Table can be uncomplicated food fresh from the earth or it can be much more sophisticated.

Taste drives our passions
The farm to table taste is robust in subtle flavors, if it is raised right and stored right.
TASTE IS KEY! the winter carrots, the warm tomato off the vine that has never been refrigerated! …  the beet greens that burst with flavor and crispness,
these tastes of the earth are what get us excited…

The kitchen menu can be challenging as we have to find the time to print new menus daily and we have to allow time  to process an abundance of produce one day and none the next, but the rewards are fun and exciting!
Crops have a cycle, cold snaps can ruin an entire filed in one night, deer and raccoons and rabbits can wreck havoc with a  planned menu!

But these are just obstacles that teach us something about living closer to the ground. The next season,we may find ourselves dehydrating and jamming and fermenting because we know how precious and short a season of a certain crop can be!  We can celebrate tomatoes when they are at their ripest and most tasteful.
I love tomatoes- I ONLY eat them when they are straight off the vine and our season in MA is VERY Short-

Let’s start the conversation.
YEP!  Taste will drive you to this movement.
And if it doesn’t taste good- it is another opportunity for a conversation with the farmer.

While taste drives us to this, it is health that keeps us planed in this commitment. Because as soon as we commit to this way of life- there is no going back… we discover the health and wealth of this community.

Now let’s talk about DIVERSITY
Because in order to be sustainable, health needs diversity: If we are talking about diet, plants or soil or even or guts. Everything needs DIVERSITY to be healthy.

American agriculture  ( I am referring to BIG AG ) is actually quite inefficient in terms of diversity.

In order for something to be truly delicious, it  has to be grown in the right kind of soil. And they have to be the right kind of seed; the right varietal in the right place , and these plants  they have to have been rotated with other crops to maintain health of the plant and of the soil.
making of a great fruit or vegetables is all of these steps, and it is picking it when it’s ripe and they are taking very good care of it for storage and transportation
We call this terroir and as chefs

The pursuit of truly great flavor always has attached to it great agriculture, which by definition means it’s truly sustainable

When something does not sustain- it disappears.

Lets start with the soil- the very foundation of our health.
Organic, low-carbon food production, which avoids artificial fertilizers & genetically modified organisms, is more beneficial to bio-diversity & the environment, and offers a long-term investment in soil fertility for future food production.

Soil that is replenished with cover crops and  or compost, is rich in microbes and bacteria.

On Monday, a new tree of life was unveiled; a diagram outlining the evolution of all living things. The researchers found that bacteria makes up most of life’s branches. Bacteria!

Ask any  Biodynamic farmer – “What makes life ?”
and they will tell you the answer is  bacteria .
She will tell you that the most important aspect of farming is the soil.
And Biodynamic famers mix up all sorts of concoctions of bacteria to keep the soils alive with diversity.

This article about the new tree of life on Mondays paper said:

“Meadow soil is one of the most microbially complex environments on the planet,”

Joel Salaton- a farmer from Virginia has been saying just this for years. He teaches about
animal grazing and how it is essential for pastures which keeps the insects, birds and mammals healthy  and have since before the last Ice Age.

Pastures either left alone or overgrazed become more fragile. Too much or too little grazing puts the field at risk for undesirable invasive species. 30 -40 varieties of grasses and and ground covers growing at different heights off a wide diversity of plants for the cow that is grazing his fields and also the chickens that come in after the cows.  When Joel grazes his animals he says they are getting a salad bowl of diversity that keeps his animals healthy and his soils healthy.
You will not hear a corporation that raises beef in confinement talk about the plant varieties, as feed or  bacteria as health.  Everywhere scientists are telling us we must pay attention to our soils! But farmers who understand how life grows—- know this.
Unsustainable farming methods are the KEY contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. If we do not change our unsustainable farming practices, we cannot change the climate.

Dan Barber says we need to create markets for the diverse crops that a sustainable farm needs to maintain a rich, healthy soil.
Crops like Barley and Buckwheat
Pusalain, Peas, Clovers, alfalfa, and vetch are all common cover crops.
They work with soil bacteria to convert atmospheric nitrogen into nitrogen in the soil that can be absorbed by plant roots. Let’s start the conversation with the farmer and begin to get these crops on our  menus and on our dinner’s plates.
Quick outlines of what we can do and conversations that we can begin:

COMPOST!  Hook up wth a farmer and feed his pigs and or find a compost pile that you can contribute to.

Meat and dairy products are among the most energy intensive food products and a big contributor to greenhouse gas. Animals are precious and expensive to raise and to eat. Simply put we need to eat less. We need to offer less on the plate if we want a price point that is affordable to our diners.

Let’s start with my favorite animal

PIGS
Farrowing pens or gestation grates are not sustainable. PERIOD!
Raising animals in massive confinement is not healthy for the animals the workers that work in these factories, or the environment.

Pigs are happy peaceful easy going, social animals. Put them in a grate where they have no room to turn around and they go insane- is this what we want to serve?

Look for Heritage breeds as they are key when it comes to taste.
There are some old breeds like
Berkshire, Old Spot, Large Black , Tamewoth, these are known for their fat, their adaptability to the environments  and several of theses breeds are also known to be careful mothers. No need for gestation grates for these pigs..

We want to use the whole animal. Both for profits on our plates – but also for tastes! All of the pig is good, nose-to-tail but some of the pig sells for a lot more than other parts. This is simply an economic reality so here is how a  menu READS from a kitchen that that brings in a whole pigs

A menu that supports the whole animals reads like this:

Our Larder’s Bacon
Smoky bone broth
Our own Guanciale
Slow Roasted Pulled Pork and crispy skin
Our house made Berkshire Breakfast Sausage
Blood Sausage with Oats

Now let’s talk about Cows
Cows Well let’s see we have meat cows and we have dairy cow and if you look at the industry of either it is pretty  much run by either the DAIRY industry or the cattle industry and both are operating on efficient systems which has little to do with raising healthy animals.

Somewhere about 100 years ago, in order to more efficient (efficient has never been a good word when it comes to sustainable) it was decided by BIG AG that Holstein cows would be better suited for milk production because they produce more milk than than our milk cows namely Jersey , Belted Galloway and Normandy. Guernsey Cows which were the American dairy cows that have  higher fat content in the milk but so valuable to the efficient system because they produce less milk than a Holstein.

But it turns out that over time this practice is not so good for us or our environment:
once again created  we have health problem n the name of efficiency.
You see, the casein or protein molecule of the holstein is different than the protein of a traditional dairy cow – like a Guernsey or Jersey cow.

It comes down to this A1 beta casin comes from the Holstien  and A2 comes from the traditional Dairy Cows-. “—For now, here in the United States, the best way to get milk with a higher-than-average A2 content is to buy it from a dairy that uses A2-dominant cow breeds s In Northern California, for example, Sonoma County’s Saint Benoit Creamery specifies on its milk labels that it uses “pastured Jersey cows.”

An emerging body of research suggests that a many as 1 in 4 Americans who exhibit symptoms of lactose intolerance could instead be unable to digest A1, a protein  Many folks who are intolerant of lactose can process or tolerate A2 casin. Milk from goats, sheep and humans contains only the A2 beta-casein

While we have the subject of Holsteins – lets talk about meat cows-
The MEAT of Grass Fed cow- producers meat with healthy fats and loads of  Vit D and Omega 3 – as well as minerals and salts not found in grain fed cows.

Grass Fed Beef
American cattle industry grows cattle on grain feed which is where 60 percent of that is soy and corn – that is soy and corn that is grown with genetically modified organisms and loads of pesticides.
Beef that is raised on grass, allowed to graze outside, one that soaks up the sun with vitamin D and eats the plants takes in omega 3 and 6 is a vey different meat than that of a cow that is raised on corn and grains.

Now we have a taste problem with grass fed meat because the general dinner is not one to love grass fed meat because  while the flavor can be a bit gamer it is defiantly chewier- so the most popular way to eat grass fed beef is in burgers, meatballs and THINK SLIDERS

That said the palate of our diners is changing and

I visited Salt’s Cure over on Highland Ave tON FRIDAY
I SAT WITH THE CHEF Chris Phelps. Every meal at Salt’s Cure proudly sources ingredients grown and raised in California, all of which are carefully butchered and crafted in house. The laid-back restaurant was designed around an open kitchen to be friendly and engaging. AND their model is less than 6 hours form farm to plate.  They offer a chalk board OF THE DAILY BUTCHER AND THE PRICES ARE HIGH,  but Chris has  a growing list of regulars who know and TRUSt their chef- because Chris knows and trusts hi farmer…

VEAL IS NOT THE BIG BAD WORD  But BECAUSE of Big Ags practices, veal has become a controversial menu item- as it should be  !
VEAL can be very sustainable for the dairy farmer who keeps his young calves MALES in the fields feeding them grass and hay and milk. A dairy farmer can make a great price on  young calf and most will sell the entire animal. Our local dairy farmer, has his entire calf ground for ground beef and sells it for $14.00 per pound.It makes a delicious burger or meatloaf and they do not able them veal because they say that they sell more when they see it as beef rather than veal.
These are young cows living the good life!
For years if a chef wanted veal it came from an animal that lived a horrific life is a
(22″ x 54″) veal create-  unable  lay down and forced to live in this dark box for 6-8 weeks before they are slaughtered.

Most farmers have veal bones. More of an example of a win win situation.

BUT ! lets focus on the good news! Let’s celebrate that Rhode Island, Ohio, Michigan, Maine, Colorado, California, Oregon, Florida and Kentucky and  have banned cruel veal  AND GESTATION crates!It is hopeful!
Many dairy farmers tell me that when their cows are happy, they are happy

Remember that term Happiness and joy and beauty
It really should never be taken out of the word sustainability

We are celebrating the whole animal when our menus offer:
Bone marrow
Bone Broth and Grass Fed Butter
House Cured Beef Coppa
Grass Fed Beef  “Haystack” meatballs and Spaghetti Squash
100% grass fed burgers or Marinated Flank Steak

Fish and Shellfish
Overfishing is the greatest single threat to marine wildlife and habitats, with nearly 80% of world fish stocks overexploited.  Many once common North Sea species are now overfished – with cod stocks on the verge of commercial collapse & common skate virtually extinct
On the other hand, there are many farmed fisheries that are raising shellfish that are good for the environment and contributing to the economic development of the fishing industry. Oysters and mussels are providing loads to our plates!

In the next decade, the majority of fish we eat will be farm-raised, not wild. Global aquaculture includes over 100 species, farmed in everything from traditional earthen ponds to high-tech tank systems.

Get to know the fishermen and hear their stories and tell those stories on the back of the menu. If you can’t find the story- it isn;t a good one…
Traceability: Find a supplier that will tell you the name of the boat, the time and location. If your supplier doesn’t provide traceability- time to shop elsewhere or if you really love her, start the conversation for change…

LAMB I got to talking about the lamb we were served last night with Suzanne Tract.  She told me the lamb was raised in Colorado.
Until 10 years ago, lambs were safe from industrial farming practices. But sadly, large lamb confinement fields have shot up in Colorado and Kansas and they are not pretty. Find a lamb farmer and buy the whole animal. Lambs and small  YOUNG pigs are good starting points for those who are just considering purchasing whole animals because they are manageable and one can pretty quickly learn the different parts and cuts on the smaller creatures.
Suzanne named the farm she sources her lamb from. She said that she used to get her lambs from the Amish in Pennsylvania but recently switched—- she found a better product closer to California—that’s the conversation I am talking about- Consider your practices and begin to make small changes

Consider bringing back the Sunday Supper and offer a Whole Roasted Lamb Dish
Start simple- invite your closest friends or favorite customer- offer  special invitation for the cost of your meal
a lamb roast  or a pig roast and serve amazing sides and sauces.
Soon you will be grinding your own marquez lamb sausage and offering cassoulet with beans from your local farmer, duck confit from the duck farmer… nothing gets your customers more excited than a simple fire roasted supper and what a simple economical way to  begin by offering a fire roasted dinner

CHICKENS
There are  layers and then we have meat birds and sometimes they are the same- think coq a vin
Putting ALL your EGGS IN ONE BASKET IN NOT SUSTAINABLE
There is nothing like a farm egg but here is a good place to digress about the organic industry:
The organic industry is booming
If you look at it one way, these are the best of times for organic industry. These producers  can barely keep up with demand. Prices for their products are high. Profits are rolling in.
When Kraft, Nestle and Hershey’s are making tables that say NATURAL and ORGANIC, you know… to be cautious
Local producers  are expanding. BUT, you gotta be careful because the organic farming has turned into an industry.

For those of us concerned with  GMO in  our food, ORGANIC means that our food does not contain GMOS until last month when it was released that glyphosates are found in organic food! YEP!~

When it comes to organic eggs- I am going to give you a big CAUTION and for the moment- lets only focus on the industry and not on local eggs which I will get to in a minute. And some of what I am about to share with you is also relevant in the meat industry,

I have to quote Wendell Berry! just because I am in love with HIM
Wendell Berry
I don’t think we should trust corporations. I don’t think the conservationists and environmentalists have anything to gain from getting into bed with the corporations.

FOR THE  MOMENT Pasture Raised –seems like a good choice when it comes to chickens – it  is another description at the other end of the spectrum, some pasture-raised hens are given more than 100 times than that of  cage free. I visited a farm that had 200 pastured (outside- running around soaking up th good life!) chickens Next to this outside hens was a long metal structure and 2000 cage free hens. It was dark, it was dan and it really didn’t smell good-
The farmer was a woman and she hoped that one day all of her chickens would be on pasture- but for the time being- she only had enough buyers for the eggs from the flock of 200 chickens-  Imagine what we as chefs can do to change this one farmer?
We can change that with a conversation.

So back to the egg….Let the menu celebrate the EGG!:
This Morning’s Farm Egg
Just gathered and slow poached  egg on greens
Deviled Farm Eggs
I LOVE THIS ONE:
Salad of “Lake Meadow” – Spinach, Escarole Hearts & Watercress with Lake Meadow Soft Cooked Egg & Sautéed Chicken Livers tossed with Our Larder’s Bacon
and Mermaid Farm Chicken Liver Pâté

Wow – like I said
that may be more than we need to know and a huge mouthful
Slow Roasted chicken Thighs with Morning Glory Cranberry Beans

Fruits and Vegetables

We now have 20 percent perennial and 80 percent annual CROPS , and the proposal is in 50 years to reverse that to 80 percent perennial and 20 percent annual. But I say 50 years is way to long to change that- I now we can change that in 10 years! look how far we have come on this Farm to Table MOVEMENT???
This change involves diminishing the amount of erosion, the toxicity of these fields, and the ongoing destruction of rural communities.

Real food consisted of whole fruits and vegetables eaten in season or preserved at the height of the harvest:  can sustain us for months when the growing season do not produce…

The growing season of tomatoes is so very short in Massachusetts,
But when they are ripe- boy- we just have too many!
When it comes to the menu, let’s look to celebrating the seasons:
Image a tomato fest one night on the menu
Guest are seated at the table and they are offered 6 varieties of warm off the vine tomatoes
it is followed by a caprese salad of warm grilled bread, a demitasses of tomato bisque and served with a lightly tossed Grilled Ratatouille  tomato Salad
Finish the evening with a tomato gelato with Garnishes of candied cherry tomatoes and fried basil
All perfectly parried with a  Italian Falanghina
and A tangy, earthy Rose from Provence.
now that celebrates the season of Tomatoes!
Additives and Processed Foods
Americans spend about ninety percent of their food budget on processed foods, We know processed food makes people sick- so consider your processed food carefully- corn grains and soy are the big ag problems. Consider these products in your kitchen. Removing canola oil can be a big statement in the conversation about sustainability.

The sustainable kitchen  celebrates the vegetables. As chefs it is our responsibility to make vegetables the highlight of the kitchen. Think whole roasted cauliflower on cauliflower puree. Or cauliflower Steaks, Eggplant Steaks and Stuffed Onions. We want to create vegetarian menus that are gluten free and can be easily adapted for vegans without losing flavor. Eating dinners around several vegetable dishes, with 4 plus diners sharing one 16 ounce steak is the sustainable way.

A celebration of the Freshly Harvested Vegetable Garden
Spring dug parsnip soup and wild watercress
Pickled mustard seed
Slow Roasted Winter Carrot
Garden Salad
Today’s  Greens
Market Soup or Market Green Salad
Ojai Pixi and Fennel Salad
Hudson Valley Apples

GRAINS
Is Bead on the table a sustainable act?-
Grains from small producers are the way to go, but is it something that you can afford to put on  the table with a slather of butter? A loaf with butter (with good ingredients will run you $5.00 per loaf of bread and this will have to to be included in your costs. There is nothing that warms the soul faster than warm bread. Consider the presentation on a cutting board or wrapped in a dish towel or Anson Mills corn bread in a cast iron skillet.
what about those gluten free customers? If you are offering a a warm bread- offer a gluten free alternative (some celiac will not eat any bread is it is made in a flute kitchen)

Other  GRAINS presented on the menu
Here is what our menus could look like using ancient grains:
Wild Carolina Shrimp and Anson Mills Grits
Emmer Wheat Pancakes with Asparagus and Chopped Egg
Rotation Risotto  of  buckwheat, millet and rye

Soy, Wheat, Canola, Sugar Beets  and Corn are to be considered CAREFULLY
GMO foods are a source of continuing controversy about long-term effects on humans, wildlife, and our food chain.

Where they are grown, GM crops occupy large surface areas and are linked to intensive monoculture systems that wipe out other crop and ecosystems. Growing only one kind of corn for human consumption will mean a reduction in flavors, traditional knowledge and food security.

What About the Other stuff we bring into our kitchen and restaurants that make up our lives?
coffee, oils, teas, chocolate, spices, paper
Flowers from Holland or Africa
Going beyond our food choices is key to keeping the sustainable claim. Is it enough to make thoughtful choices to ensure that you are following sustainable practices when it comes to food , but what about the other stuff? what about plastic wrap and foil and candles and linens, cleaning products? Looking for opportunities to support our local economies is key in staking the sustainable claim:

Fair-trade ensures producers are paid fairly for their work, offering a strategy for poverty alleviation and sustainable development.  It creates social & economic opportunities for producers and workers who have been exploited, disadvantaged or marginalised by the conventional trading system. If nothing else start with with Fair Trade and expand into the local community for sourcing other STUFF

Rule one:
Cheap always has a price.
Consider
Handmade or local pottery – teaming up with a potter and asking them if they have seconds or enlisting the local high school pottery art class to make plates, bowls or pots for your tables can be a fun and engaging process.  REMEMBER JOY AND BEAUTY AND BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS??

Enlisted a local grower to grow your potted herbs for tables or provide small vases of locally grown flowers is a bonus for everyone.
, enlist a local grower to grow flats on of micro greens for you kitchen…

OTHER WAYS TO bring profits to your table with thoughtful sourcing
Although the farm is the driving force- finding super special organic spices, dried herbs flowers and vegetables can not only add a whole level of Intrigue to the menu, but  you can make very large profits at the bar and in drinks:  it It is cocktails that infuse the flavors of the kitchen:
THINK Nigella, Nigella is super easy to grow- ask your farmer to grow one for you!
Nutmeg,
Juniper
Pumpkin Seeds
Shrubs
House made Bitters
Milk Shakes,  Hot chocolate with a twist
Mocha coffee
Kombucha
Team up wth your local chocolatier and create a chocolate bar that you break on the plate for dessert

HOLD INTERGITY
San Diego Magazine writer Troy Johnson this summer documented several claims that local restaurants had lied about buying food from local farmers. This is sad and we need to uphold our integrity as chefs and this clearly is NOT supporting our community.

Conclusions
To Some it up:
Soil is the HEART
Real Food= Real Nutrients + REAL TASTE +Spice of Life + Loads of  VARIETIES+ Building relationships+ telling good jokes + not taking this too seriously +creating menus that celebrate the life of a plant of animal = it all equals SUSTAINABILITY

Sustainability is not a lofty idea but a fundamental, and necessary, endeavor. The concept is about the food and drink of course, but it’s also about your team team, your space,  your daily practices. We make hundreds of decisions each day that affect the world around us.
It’s about finding a balance in our own lives. We can’t sustain our quest of making quality, accessible food, if we are burning out our adrenals. We cannot give if we don’t take care of us first!  When we are healthy and vibrant, we can pass that on to those around us. We can give back to our community and the environment. We can begin to ask questions and we can hold the conversation to those in our communities that have something to offer on our menus.

Starting he conversation and knowing the story- about how we get the food we serve- is the first step to building out community.

Do more than shake the hand that feeds you,  get to know the hand that can sustain you and our planet.

The pursuit of great flavor always has attached to it great agriculture.
great agriculture brings vibrancy  and health to our communities and this is where we have to begin our  conversations.

References and resources:
http://www.frontiercoop.com
http://www.seafish.org/industry-support/legislation/traceability-and-labelling
Seafood watch.org
Michael Pollan
Barbra Kingslover

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