IACP: Sustainability goes mainstream

At the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) annual conference in Denver at the beginning of April, sustainability was on everyone's lips. The IACP meeting's focus was "Pioneering a Sustainable World," and it was inspiring. A few of my favorite quotes and notes from speakers:

"Sustainability 2.0 means food that's uncomplicated and simple, with a focus on connection. ... They key is, how can we make this kind of eating accessible and affordable to everyone? How can something be sustainable, by definition, if some people are left out? Maybe the next step in my career is making stores for the low-income population. It's not enough to celebrate what we've accomplished; the soul of sustainability is including everyone." --Walter Robb, co-president and COO of Whole Foods Markets. (A cool note: Robb also mentioned a new five-step animal welfare rating that Whole Foods is instituting as a guide to buying sustainably produced meat.)

"The best ecological and ethical decisions are always the most flavorful. The future of food is delicious food." --Dan Barber, executive chef at Blue Hill Restaurant at Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture.

"Sustainability doesn't mean trend; it can't be a trend. It has to be a commitment. Environmental health, societal health, human health: only FOOD touches all of these. If we fix food, we fix these." --Michel Nischan, chef/author, policy activist, and president/CEO of Wholesome Wave Foundation, working to make local, sustainable foods available to all.

"Defining sustainability isn't the problem; it simply means maintaining something. But how do you apply it in real life? That's the issue. The concept of the food shed is now emerging: How can you feed people within the food shed [i.e., their region], with local, fair-trade foods? It's consistent with UN's new paradigm: The global food issues can't be solved with technology and aid; we have to use food justice and sovereignty. That's a huge shift! It's not optimism that's needed, it's HOPE, like Rosa Parks had; she wasn't optimistic but she hoped. We have a moment now, a crisis and an opportunity." --Fred Kirschenmann, international leader in sustainable agriculture, organic farmer in North Dakota, and distinguished fellow for the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University.

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