Dan, how can we bring the locavore movement to medium-priced restaurants?
Dan Barber: It’s a hard one. It is about making choices, and changing your menu often, maybe daily. Buy the whole lamb, use all the parts and there will be a savings overall. But that means you cannot serve loin of lamb every night.
Over the past century, most industrialized nations have transformed from having a majority of the population working the land to a minority. One of the bigger challenges to being able to feed most of the population with sustainably-grown food seems to be that we’ll need a larger farming workforce. How can we address this issue?
Stone Barns: You are absolutely right, we will need many more people to be involved in the food system, either as producers or active food citizens. At Stone Barns, we are working to train the next generation of farmers in sustainable practices. There are a tremendous # of entrepreneurial people interested farming as a career, some who are generations removed from working the land. Chefs Make Change donations go to support this work. It’s also about all of us being active food citizens—from what we buy, to asking for this kind of food in our restaurants, markets and schools.
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Is there any reason why an “heirloom” tomato should cost $7/lb when a standard tomato in the same market (also locally grown) costs $2/lb?
SB: Some of it may be perceived value, but heirloom crops can be challenging to grow. With tomatoes, we might lose as much as 30 percent of the crop to breakage, bruising, etc. We’re working with seed breeders on hybrid varieties that will have both great flavor and nutrition, and a bit more resilience.
DB: And if cooks, at home and in the restaurant, would be willing to purchase the bruised and less then beautiful tomatoes to make sauces or tomato water, the farmers could charge far less.