Whether restaurant fare at farm-to-fork eateries really is sourced from sustainable family farmers is the subject of a recent Washington Post article by food writer Jane Black. Chefs have long been some of the most committed supporters of farmers using sustainable, high-welfare practices. AWA farmers have forged strong relationships with dedicated chefs such as Andrea Reusing of Chapel Hill, NC, Manhattan’s Bill Telepan and Top Chef contestant Bryan Voltaggio. However, as the terms “sustainable,” “family farmer,” and “humane” become part of the marketing lexicon, the chances of a menu being greenwashed rises. Luckily, there is one simple step all restaurants highlighting their ties to farmers and sustainability can take to make sure patrons feel a sense of trust in the menu and the mission. They can be transparent. Much like the nutrition labels that now appear on packaged food, restaurants should spell out on their websites and menus what production practices they tolerate (raised in confinement? pesticide use?) and how they determine if a farm or supplier meets its standards.
In today’s Washington Post Outlook Section, writer Jane Black offers some advice to those engaged in the struggle to change the food policy (or lack thereof) of the US.
“To bring real change, policymakers need to look at the system more holistically — because everything, as foodies see it, is connected. Federal subsidies of grain and corn make it cheap to produce meat. Industrial meat production, which takes advantage of cheap feed, is responsible for about one-fifth of the world’s greenhouse gases. Eating too much meat and too many processed foods made with corn products such as high fructose corn syrup has contributed to the sharp spike in obesity over the past 30 years.
Michael Pollan, the author of the bestselling ”The Omnivore”s Dilemma” and the spiritual leader of American foodies, summed it up in an open letter to the new president in the New York Times Magazine last October. He urged Obama to make ”reform of the entire food system one of the highest priorities of your administration: unless you do, you will not be able to make significant progress on the health care crisis, energy independence or climate change.”
Linda Maggio, an Animal Welfare Approved farmer in North Carolina commented on a recent blog of ours with some ideas.
How do you think we can best affect change?