I spent the end of last week at the latest iteration of the Sustainable Foods Institute, an intense two days of discussion that the Monterey Bay Aquarium (home of Seafood Watch, the guide to sustainable seafood choices) puts on every year to bring together journalists, advocates and chefs. The Institute takes place within Cooking for Solutions, an overlapping food and wine conference dedicated to the proposition that sustainability and care for the planet are inseparable from deliciousness.
This is not as universal an idea as you might think. As the conference was opening, the New York Times ran a joint interview with the globally influential chefs Thomas Keller and Andoni Luis Aduriz in which they explicitly rejected ecological concerns over where or from whom they source the food they serve. Keller: “Is global food policy truly our responsibility? … I don’t think so.” Aduriz: “To align yourself entirely with … sustainability makes chefs complacent and limited.” (In a great response piece, Grist food editor Twilight Greenaway explains why their thinking is so short-sighted.)
But “global food policy” ought to be the concern of anyone who raises, grows, catches, fishes, forages, sells or even just eats food — because, as University of Minnesota academic Jonathan Foley said in a devastating talk halfway through the two days: “We’re running out of everything. We’re running out of planet.”