"I’m not an environmentalist, or a doctor, or a nutritionist. I’m not a community activist or an evangelist (though sometimes my wife says I sound like one). Chefs are none of these things, but we’re also all of them, too, whether we’re grandstanding or working silently behind a stove. Because truly great-tasting food—that impossibly sweet tomato, the deeply flavored leg of lamb—by definition has the right environment behind it. A delicious tomato does not originate from degraded soil. Nutrient density goes hand in hand with flavor.
And generally, the food with the most flavor comes from farmers who are local or regional, or integral to a community. You can’t treat farming like a car-manufacturing plant and expect that it will produce anything great to eat. That’s why chefs have become advocates for everything from water rights to farm-workers rights to farmers markets.
Chefs are powerful because we are curators of what’s truly delicious; we’re driven by pleasure. The sustainable food movement is about hedonism, A to Z: Be greedy. Be greedy for great food when you know that it was grown in the right way. That’s why a local, grass-fed burger shouldn’t be a guilty indulgence. It should be a part of your diet. What I don’t like about sustainable foodies—and I’m considered one of them—is that we carry an air of preachiness about food. (No one wants to be told what to eat, whether it’s by your mother or by a group of holier-than-thou chefs.) But true sustainability is about more than just deciding to cook with local ingredients or not allowing your child to have corn syrup. It’s about cuisine that’s evolved out of what the land is telling you it wants to grow. As one farmer said to me, Food systems don’t last; cuisine does.”
Dan Barber of Blue Hill at Stone Barns | WSJ