All across America, a new focus on sustainability has been taking root. But many people don't associate the restaurant industry, notorious for its food waste, with sustainable ideals. A sustainable restaurant isn't a contradiction in terms, however - it's just a new kind of dining experience.
Sustainable dining is conscious dining. It is a commitment to the ethical sourcing of food, and a closer relationship with the world that creates it.
In contrast to restaurants which offer a uniform dining experience all year round, a sustainable restaurant's menu shifts with the reality of the outside world. Foods come into season and go out of season; local populations of fish rise and fall, and other ingredients may or may not be locally available. The food you eat when you're dining out sustainably is a reflection of the world you inhabit.
This means that sustainable dining can also introduce you to foods you may not have encountered in a restaurant before. You may have heard about Trash Fish Dinners planned by chef Stephen Phelps, where fish species commonly discarded as trash by commercial fishing operations were given a chance to shine on the dinner plate. Broadly speaking, and with all consideration for regional cuisine, America still has a fairly common palette when it comes to meats, seafood, and produce, which can overshadow local species which aren't grown in a hothouse year-round and shipped to all corners of the continent.
When you visit a sustainable restaurant, you're visiting a place where food is placed in a larger, kinder environmental context. And in doing so, you're broadening your own horizons. Learn more about what sustainability means by visiting Indigenous today!
Chef Phelps has been invited to cook at the biggest James Beard Foundation Celebrity Chef Tour this year, happening this April in Nashville!
The James Beard Foundation is a national non-for-profit organization based in New York City, whose mission is to celebrate, nurture, and honor America's diverse culinary heritage through programs that educate and inspire. They are dedicated to exploring the way food enriches our lives, and offer a variety of events and programs that are designed to educate, inspire, entertain, and foster a deeper understanding of our culinary culture.
The Celebrity Chef Tour is the biggest James Beard Celebrity Chef Dinner of the year. Held in Nashville, Tennessee at the Hutton Hotel, there will be an all star line up of award winning chefs including Chef Phelps! There will be a reception from 6pm to 7pm followed by a 6 course dinner prepared by the chefs.
Click here for more details and to buy tickets for the event!
Presenter List and Schedule
Who's speaking: chefscollaborative.
Be sure to RSVP for the Summit with your COMPLIMENTARY Local pass, then sign up for a Summit workshop before they fill up! chefscollaborative.org/summit/
Sign up for a NYC good food field trip before the tix are gone! Join fellow Local Leader Sara Grady for an exploration of the NY Cider Scene: chefscollaborative.org/summit/
Travel and Lodging
All details here: chefscollaborative.org/summit/
Recently, you may have noticed a growing movement when it comes to food shopping and consumption. For the first time in a long time, people are starting to pay attention to where their food comes from. This is more than just reading labels, although that is always a good idea!
More and more, people are choosing fresh, sustainable foods, grown locally, and grown and produced in a responsible, sustainable way. This includes meats as well as vegetables and fruits. When you start paying attention to where your food comes from and how it is grown, produced, harvested and prepared, you are taking control of your health. But even more than that, you are helping your community.
Be A Local Hero
By patronizing local growers and providers of food who use responsible practices, you are enabling them to continue providing their produce and meat to the community. This is important, as they can't continue without support from their community.
Help Change Big Food Business
When you avoid mass growers of pesticide-laden produce and inhumanely raised meat, you are sending a message with your dollars that can help promote change.
It's happening already with more companies choosing healthier ways of producing food, but it is important to be vigilant, as many will simply stick a "natural" or "sustainable" label on foods or package it differently in the hopes you won't dig deeper. Many food labels, such as "natural" are not regulated.
When it comes to meat, people are becoming more and more aware that it matters how the animal was raised. Another question to ask yourself when selecting meat is "what does my food eat?" Did the animal eat low-grade, pesticide-laden or genetically altered grains with little nutritional value? Did the animal spend its life in poor conditions? Or, was it able to roam free, eating its natural food source, vitamin rich grass?
Sustainable foods are better for the environment, and healthier for you and your family. Eating foods that are grown locally improves the economy in your community. Choosing meat that is treated humanely results in healthy animals, a healthier environment and healthier people.
So, eat fresh, eat local and eat organic. The more people consume sustainable foods, the more the bigger corporations will have to start changing their current practices.
As people become more conscious of healthier food choices as well as protecting the environment, there are many reasons to learn more about sustainable foods. Essentially, sustainability means keeping an efficient level of food supply such as fish in the ocean without disrupting the ecosystem through over-consumption. Here are facts on how we can contribute to maintaining the supply of sustainable foods while making better choices on nutrition.
Diversity of Choices
The best way to stay healthy while protecting the environment is to diversify our food choices. By educating yourself about which foods are most available for each season, you can help reduce the carbon footprint involved with shipping foods from around the world. Instead of relying on importing food from other countries when it is not in season in your own area, it's better to focus on the food that is readily more available locally.
When it comes to fish, there are hundreds of commercial species, so there are plenty of choices during any given season. When public demand is more reflective of availability according to the season rather than personal appetite, it helps avoid higher shipping costs and keeps fisheries more consistent with natural sustainability.
Steps Toward Progress
Instead of waiting for others to change the world, if everyone takes an interest in learning about the environmental impact of food production, we won't have to guess or worry about the future as much. Cutting down on food waste is an important step toward this goal. One of the most efficient ways to cut down on water use in growing crops is with hydroponic farming, which produces more yield at a faster rate than conventional farming and doesn't require chemicals.
Factors That Threaten Sustainability
Social media allows you to share your voice with the world like no other communications medium in history. Remind your friends how we're all on the same team and share the same home called Earth, so it's up to us to preserve our resources. Compromising the Earth's ability to supply sufficient amounts of food in the future through exploitation should be avoided. Try to encourage others to take an interest in topics such as agriculture and renewable energy. Spreading insights on sustainable foods works best in a positive tone.
If you'd like to get a taste of sustainable food locally, stop by Indigenous today!
Chef Phelps is proud to be a part of the Meat Matters Sarasota event, held on Monday, December 14th. Meat Matters is a celebration of sustainably-raised meat and an exploration of the issues surrounding producing and eating meat.
Chef Phelps will have a station at this event, and each station will be creating dishes featuring bison, lamb, beef, pork, chicken, vegetables, and grains. There will also be local spirits, wine, beer, and a silent auction.
Tickets are on sale now, and the event is expected to sell out early so buy them now here! A portion of the proceeds benefit Chefs Collaborative scholarship and education programs.
Check out the full event details below!
While Americans love seafood, few know its sources. Unlike with produce and meat companies, there is often not a lot in the way of record-keeping that would allow consumers to find out where their seafood comes from. This information is crucial if you want to know the ecological implications of your consumption.
By making the right dining choices, you can help to support solutions for healthier oceans. Paying attention to the sources of fish sends a strong message to both government leaders and to leaders of the fishing industry that you support responsible stewardship of the planet’s oceans.
About Sustainable Seafood
This can be defined as fish that has been harvested in a way that allows populations to be maintained or increased over time. Seafood is only sustainable if it can be harvested without endangering the health or function of the oceanic ecosystem. If you want to buy only sustainable fish, you will have to find out where it is from.
Ideally, your fish should be from sustainable capture fisheries. These fisheries are less vulnerable to fishing pressure and thus are less likely to be overfished. They use fishing techniques that minimize the potential for catching unwanted species. These techniques also maintain natural relationships between species in the ecosystem.
How to Tell if What You Buy is from a Sustainable Source
If you are eating out, ask the restaurant if their fish supply is from a sustainable source. Many chefs have purchasing policies to ensure that the product they buy comes from sustainable fisheries. Those purchasing policies may also cover the type of processing the fish undergoes before it gets to your plate. You should also ask how it was caught, whether by bottom trawling, driftnets or long lines. All of these methods are associated with catching large amounts of unwanted species. Opt for fish caught with more sustainable methods like handlines, pots or jigs.
Your menu choices as well as where you choose to eat can help with the replenishment of overfished waters. The key is to find out the source of the seafood that winds up on your plate.
For a menu full of fresh, sustainable seafood choices, come visit us at Indigenous!