This recent interview with Krista Tippett and chef Dan Barber is inspirational, educational, and humorous... My favorite part of the interview is Dan's explanation of how a plant's physiology actually changes (i.e. tastes better, and is likely more nutrient dense) when it is grown sustainably and locally - particularly plants indigenous to us in the Northeast.
Since I spent a January-term in college in Peru studying indigenous agriculture, spirituality, sustainability and biodiversity, I became very aware of the dangerous effects of monoculture (planting just one type of crop as opposed to a more natural, biologically diverse yield ) to the land, the people, and the environment. What I saw in Andean Amazon was vast stretches of agricultural mountainous terrain being stripped of its biodiversity to make way for monocultures. The surrounding environments suffered greatly as a result. The crops that had previously been situated on those mountains were part of a diverse system that yielded not only food crops, but also plants used for medicine, as well as construction purposes. There is simply a lack of understanding in terms the detrimental effects of interfering with these cultural landscapes. So, what can we do to make a difference where we are?
Barber's interview with Krista is the first that I've heard really brings the point home to our neck of the woods. Unfortunately, today, even organic crops are often planted in monocultures. This underscores the importance of buying from small, local farms where landscape and production is interwoven, where the bottom line is not only yield but also quality and taste.
Barber adds a twist to the equation, adding that what is ethical is not only good for us and the health of all, but also simply tastes better. It brings more joy to the palate and the environment benefits. He is first and foremost, a chef wanting to create delicious foods. Enjoy!