In June this year The Culinary Institute of America hosted the inspiring Menus of Change 2015 Conference on their Hyde Park Campus in upstate New York.
Thought leaders from across the country gathered there to discuss the state of American cuisine in today’s world. Chief among their concerns were four major areas affecting the nation and indeed the world:
OUR CHANGING CLIMATE
Speaker after speaker stressed the urgent need to address the planet’s changing climate. Areas that have long produced vital fruits and vegetables now are shifting to the cultivation to different, less nutritious crops in order to survive financially. In the most affected areas, some farmers are simply abandoning cultivation altogether.
RESTORATIVE PROTEIN SOURCES
Even without the accumulative effect of accelerating climate change, it will be very difficult (and increasing expensive) for Americans to continue consuming a heavily beef-centered diet. Large cattle feedlots are increasingly separating cattle from their natural existence where their traditional lifecycle enriches the land by recycling nutrients and adding to soil fertility.
INCONSISTENT WATER AVAILABILITY
The need for a reliable water source is also becoming a major concern in many American agricultural areas. Once dependable rains now come too frequently or not at all. In some areas prolonged droughts are draining ancient water reserves while in other regions farmers and ranchers are fighting floods, only to later face unproductive water soaked fields and grasslands.
DANGEROUS CHEMICAL ADDITIVIES
Further complicating American cuisine is use of chemical additives to enhance and accelerate animal growth. There is an increasing amount of evidence suggesting that the sub-therapeutic use of antibiotics in food animals can pose a health risk to humans. If a group of animals is treated with a certain antibiotic over time, the bacteria living in those animals will become resistant to that drug. According to microbiologist Dr. Glenn Morris, the problem for humans is that if a person ingests the resistant bacteria via improperly cooked meat and becomes ill, he or she may not respond later to antibiotic treatment.
Yet all is not without hope. The Culinary Institute of America, working with thoughtful industry leaders and academics, has created a 14 point plan to greatly improve the state of the plate. Please read on…