Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sustainable Reality?

I was having an interesting discussion with my Sous Chef Jason the other day and we got talking about sustainability; as is really quite common these days. He was telling me about how some chefs he knows think that sustainability should be predicated on the way the French view it. What does this mean exactly? Seasonal of course! Now, I have been to France and think quite highly of the cuisine, but I failed to notice one important factor… Not everything is available all of the time…

In the United States we expect anything we want anytime and have done away with the experience of dining within our means and supply of food. Why? Because we can... This is the innovative spirit of Americans in general. Can’t get “X” product because of the season? No problem, let’s import it from somewhere that it is in season… And why not?

So I got to thinking that all the sustainability efforts that University Dining is implementing has been predicted on the desire for people to still have everything available at all times. What if my menus were based on sustainable reality? I can tell you there would be a whole lot less of the traditional 500+ items in my inventory to be sure! It would be hard to even make a traditional salad based on my region. Obviously, it would not go over so well with my student clientele if I could not get beef, chicken, seafood, or many types of fruits and vegetables all year long if I decided to implement a sustainable realty. I guess the point is that we as consumers and institutions must give up some luxuries if we want to be truly sustainable. Unfortunately, I find that my clientele and even myself are not willing to do so which means that I will never be 100% sustainable. Only just enough to call my operation sustainable based on other manipulative criteria.

If sustainability was truly an interest of consumers, including myself, we should question the food we eat and ask ourselves, “does this grow here right now?” If the answer is “no” and we continue to buy and consume such products, we are not truly sustainable in my opinion. Well, at least the packaging is made from reclaimed and recycled products right? I guess I can overlook the food for the wrapper and call myself sustainable. By the way, what is considered sustainable? Local, regional, national, or continental? I never do get a straight answer on this from whoever I ask.

Think about it,


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