Food Is Broken But Chefs Are Serving Solutions

The Inter Academy Partnership (IAP), an international consortium of 130 national academies in science and medicine, has released a report that warns of the dangers of global food systems and climate change. The report urged UN Climate Change Conference (COP24) action, which began today in Poland.

According to the report, climate-smart agriculture and incentives for consumers to change diets are essential for addressing the root causes for our global food crisis. Innovative foods and cutting-edge technology combined with rigorous social sciences are also crucial. “The current approach to food nutrition, agriculture, and the environmental environment is not sustainable and must be changed. It is too late to waste time. The link between farm, fork and plate is the chef. They must be part of the discussion about how to change the global food system. They have the unique ability to educate and inspire cultural change in the way we think about food.

The MAD Symposium is a 2-day event in Copenhagen that features presentations by chefs, farmers and thinkers. Chad Freshman, Vice President & Research Director of Project Drawdown, gave the following speech to a crowd of top restaurant professionals. SDG2 Advocacy Hub and other movements are creating a global network of chefs who share the same values as them. They are determined to make a positive impact by using their position at top of the food chain. They have created a Chefs’ Manifesto with more than 100 chefs from around the globe. This is a framework that outlines how chefs can help the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals by taking simple, practical steps. This manifesto was written by chefs for chefs. It is just one example of the many ways that the industry is taking social responsibility seriously.

Albert Adria, the legendary chef, spoke at the Food On The Edge symposium held in Galway, Ireland. He talked about how chefs need to think differently about fish and look for other cuts or lesser-known species. This will help reduce intensive fishing and increase the availability of fish for their customers. Chefs around the globe are rising to the plate to share their vast knowledge and influence in the food industry. Massimo Battuta, an Italian chef who used waste food to feed the hungry, captured the attention of the world with his Refectories soup-kitchen initiative. His Food for Soul initiative saw him reach Rio de Janeiro and London as well as the United States.

New Yorker Dan Barber is a long-standing advocate for eliminating food waste from kitchens. Blue Hill, Manhattan, and Blue Hill at Stone Barns restaurants use as much produce from responsibly grown sources as they can. Barber’s book, “The Third Plate” describes a system of vegetable, livestock, and grain production that is fully supported by what we cook for dinner. Chefs are redefining how they treat food and think about it in their kitchens. Joan Roca of El Caller de Can Roca (Gijona, Spain) partnered Oceana, the largest international advocacy organization focusing exclusively on ocean conservation. Oceana is a group of top chefs from around the globe, including Andon Luis Adria, Ferrand Adria and Gaston Acurio. They claim to have protected over one million miles of ocean.

Matt Orlando, owner and chef at Amass Copenhagen, is fighting his own waste war. Amass’ food waste has been reduced by 75%, but Orlando insists that it is not worth recycling ingredients unless they are delicious. Chefs’ creativity is crucial to fostering broader changes in the food industry. Culture is a key factor in how we produce and consume food. By taking what we perceive as useless or unproductive and making it desirable, we can begin to see the beginnings for a sea shift. Sustainability is not a trend. It’s a shift in how the restaurant industry conducts business. Food production and consumption are becoming more politicized. There are many challenges ahead, but the number of top chefs who embrace these challenges shows that the future is not as dangerous as we might be led to believe. Chefs are showing that food has the power of transformation and that it can change the world.

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