Waste in a Land of Plenty: Chef Critical of Local Foods Movement

Apr 8, 2015

The local foods movement is gaining strength.  Farmers, grocers and chefs are all trying to meet the growing demand for high quality, locally sourced ingredients, but Chef Dan Barber thinks that the movement is missing a very important element - sustainability. 

My hope is that farm to table of the future will incorporate a lot of these other lowly ingredients and get us to democratize the farm because that is the ticket for true sustainability.

“I do think that farm to table cooking can really fall into the category of elitism because of the way it’s practiced. It’s cherry picking ingredients that we most covet."

Barber is the executive chef at Blue Hill in Manhattan and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, a restaurant located within a nonprofit farm.  He’s also the best-selling author of “The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food.” 

On this Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Barber about his vision for the future of food.  In Barber’s vision, the first plate is a traditional dinner plate in the United States with a five ounce cut of beef accompanied by cooked carrots and the second plate is a farm to table plate featuring grass fed organic beef accompanied by locally grown heirloom carrots. He says  both of those plates are unsustainable. 

 "My hope is that farm to table of the future will incorporate a lot of these other lowly ingredients and get us to democratize the farm because that is the ticket for true sustainability.” 

Barber envisions a “third plate” that varies with the seasons and depends on the kinds of food that can be grown sustainably locally and uses all cuts of meat, not just prime cuts and says that all of the great cuisines of the world have grown out of the need to use all of the products of a farm such as cover crops and all of the parts available when livestock is slaughtered.