Saturday, January 24, 2009

Chefs Want Healthier Food Policies

Remember that dinner the night before inauguration day when Tom saved Joan Nathan’s life? That happened at a fundraiser for DC Central_Kitchen (among others). There were many renowned chefs in the room that night. They are hoping that Barack Obama will institute new policies that will improve the quality of our food supply and turn people away from processed foods and towards a diet of natural, more sustainable food.

Top Chef has been promoting the same platform. 2 weeks ago, the Elimination Challenge took place at Dan Barber’s restaurant and farm, which uses sustainable farming practices and wants to educate folks about where their food comes from.

Other chefs have specific ideas about food policy, many dealing with promoting small farms. Daniel Boulud thinks that small farms should have their own agency at the DOA, where their goals could be more easily implemented.

Lidia Bastianich says the government should carry out regulations that help, not hurt, small farmers and make it possible for them to compete with “the big giants”.

And our very own Tom doesn’t believe that these same giant farms should get as many subsidies and that GEO's should be labeled clearly.

That's all fine on a more global basis, but I personally would love to know what the Obama’s eat everyday – what cheese they like on their grilled cheese, if they drink organic milk; are their eggs cage-free? And does a boxed mix ever make it onto their shelves?

Those questions may never be answered and we’ll probably have to settle for seeing what policies the President supports to encourage a healthier, most sustainable food supply that doesn’t work against the small farmer.


Lys said...

This is a great post and some good food for thought. We probably will never know if Michelle O. believes in cooking either Semi-Homemade or Back to Basics. However, I think that the more people are educated about what and how things are made, they might make healthier choices. I admit, I made some bad ones back when I first was learning to cook and I've learned through a bunch of wonderful blogs that supporting the small farmer and farmers markets often results in some great produce! Yeah, it's more expensive sometimes - but I'd sacrifice a day of shoe shopping for the promise of better health.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

When you have your own personal chef, I would guess you can pretty much dictate whatever you want. Imagine having the power to snap your fingers and demand a politically correct kitchen and have that wish be granted.

I think we all have to remember though that no one's kitchen can be 100% sustainable and organic. I can go to Whole Foods and more than half the stuff on the shelves comes from halfway across the country or across the world. LIving in an area with a cold winter area, the farmer's markets have shut down for the winter (and the one's that are still open are still selling me produce from far away).

My biggest beef with the whole local/sustainable/organic movement is how it currently only applies to those who have access to it!

Sue said...

Hi Lys,
That would be interesting. You can tell so much about a person from which Food Network host they like.

I'm waiting for the day when we don't HAVE to spend a fortune on healthy food choices.

Good point, but they still have to pay for their own food and the first family is down to one wage earner now.

I agree completely with your second point. Many times I'm standing in the produce section of the supermarket saying, "Green waxy apples from Joisy or organic apples from Chile?" Actually, I find now that EVERYTHING is expensive from far OR near, organic or not.

There's no question that sustainable food buying is mostly an exercise of the better off and fewer and fewer people are going to have the luxury to do that. (And, of course, it shouldn't be a luxury!)

Tracy said...

I usually agree with you ... but this time I disagree. I think the Obamas are living in enough of a bubble. Let's at least let them have a little privacy when they eat.

Sue said...

Of course, you ARE right. I should have said I would love to know all that stuff, but I hope we never do, because that's not stuff that we're entitled to. But...that doesn't mean I'm not interested.