When I first went to school to the Culinary Institute of America, I believed that only important things about being a chef were knife skills and what you made, but over time I've learned that there are multiple other issues at hand as we look towards the future of the culinary world. The most important issue that I've heard of so far that I think deeply about and intend to learn more about is sustainability.
CSA's, or Chefs for Sustainable Agriculture, are chefs who are at the forefront over the argument of wastefulness and the excess consumption of foods and animals that will no longer be with us. For example, most people don't realize this but the Blue Fin Tuna will most likely be extinct in three to five years. The reason being is that the Japanese love this fish so much that they control over eighty percent of the market for it. They love it so much they have a federal reserve dedicated to the Tuna itself, similar to how we reserve gold at Fort Knox.
Now, keep in mind that the amount of food we waste is so extravagant and yet most people don't even realize it. It is important as chefs, especially as we look forward to the future, to know how we are going to deal with the extinction of species while still meeting the demands of feeding the world. It is important to learn about how we can use only what we need and set up sustainable agriculture to help supply the food that we serve in our restaurants. For example, Chef Melissa Kelly, the executive chef of Primo and CIA graduate, is one of the foremost purveyors of farm-to-table cuisine. She eliminates outside purveyors almost completely and everything at her restaurants is either grown, raised, or slaughtered on site and then manufactured to order.
Now who's to say that even in urban locations, take Buffalo for example where urban farming is beginning to boom, that we cannot do this ourselves? Why can't we grow veggies in our backyards? Why can't we raise a chicken or two? It is our reliance on others that allows for waste and for skyrocketing prices. While there is no definitive line to be drawn between regular chefs and CSA's, it is important for both to understand and respect the cuisine that they offer as I do when I prepare food for others. Sustainability is an issue I hold dearest and key to my heart and it is important for others to hold this point just as near and dear to theirs.
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