Searching for a Sustainable Cuisine

farmed-and-dangerousTo spread their message of “food with integrity,” Chipotle is launching a television comedy series on Hulu. The four program episodes are titled Farmed and Dangerous and, according to their press release, takes a satirical look at industrial agriculture.

“The series follows a fictional industrial giant called Animoil that develops a new petroleum-based animal feed called PetroPellet. The product promises to reduce factory farm dependence on oil by eliminating the need to grow, irrigate, fertilize and transport vast amounts of feed needed to raise livestock. There’s only one downside: the cows that eat the pellets have a tendency to explode (with cheap but amusing special effects).”

Sustainable agriculture is to farming what recycling is to manufacturing. Everyone is for it, as long as it is

convenient and doesn’t cost anything — or not too much.

But, when the National Academy of Sciences took a hard look at our current ways of farming, they discovered that it is the policies passed into law by politicians, not the activities of farmers, which are getting in the way of developing sound biological systems to feed the earth instead of starve it. Some people say it is not economically feasible to rotate crops. Others contend that it is better by far to work with nature than try to subdue it.

In this debate there is no one right or wrong answer.  And, we will have to accept that there are no “sides” to be on. This is not a battle but a plan of action for the future — a new approach to follow other new approaches, some of which have worked and others, that with all the goodwill in the world fell short of their objectives.

Of course, it’s a lot more complicated than simply saying let’s go for this or that scheme. To safeguard our natural resources, we need to forge willing partnerships among farmers, government agencies, policymakers, scientists, food processors, retailers, and ourselves, the ultimate consumers.

Food Job: The Farm to Table debate is among the most important issues on the national agenda. A career can be built working for Blue Hill at Stone Barns and innumerable other restaurants that are committed to creating a sustainable cuisine. Work can be found in every aspect of the food universe ranging from the scientific community to policy formation and legislation to forming a CSA and simply farming a small plot of land (organically).