The Clever Root

Winter / Spring 2016

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5 2 | t h e c l e v e r r o o t Room for Growth Roots Conference panelists offered tips on how to change America's broken food landscape and improve conditions for both workers and consumers: Owners must encourage their staff to take breaks dur- ing their long shifts and foster work-life balance: "The onus is on us in decision-making positions to create that environment and set good examples. Good health is more contagious than disease."—Chef Seamus Mullen, owner of Tertulia in New York City "Sustainability is more than what you do with the soil and plants; it's what you do with the people. Ask your people what they need." —Bob Jones, Jr., co-owner/COO, The Chef's Garden, who provides opportunities and time off for immigrant workers to travel home Decrease your consumption of animal products and gravitate toward a plant-based diet: "We certainly don't need a 14 ounce portion every time we sit down to eat a piece of salmon." —Michel Nischan, founder/President/ CEO, Wholesome Wave, a Connecticut non-profit that facilitates healthier food choices for underserved con- sumers, and three-time James Beard Foundation award- winner, including 2015 Humanitarian of the Year "Look at dandelion, look at nettle; they have so much love to give! We call things weeds whose nutritional value we haven't yet discovered." —Prannie Rhatigan, general practitioner in Ireland and author of The Irish Seaweed Kitchen Leave pride behind and be willing to collaborate: "I wish I'd asked for help." —Barbara Lynch, founder/CEO, Barbara Lynch Foundation and Barbara Lynch Gruppo, which includes eight concepts in Boston "You are never going to be a great chef until you kill your ego." —Matthias Merges, owner/Executive Chef, Yusho in Chicago sented a talk and slideshow during "Trash: The Global Food Waste Scandal & How to Rectify It." "This is truly the low-hanging fruit—or vegetable—of sustainability," Figueiredo said about salvaging wasted food. Citing the figure that one in six Americans struggle with food insecurity, Figueiredo asked "Why? We don't need that. We can solve that." This frustration led Figueiredo to launch the Ugly FrUit and Veg campaign, which includes posting images of "lesser than" produce across social media channels to draw attention to the approximately 30% of produce that is wasted before reaching the market because of cos- metic reasons alone. Another unjustified fear Americans cling to? Moldy food. From fermentation to country ham, mold not only protects food, but also adds fla- vor. "You are statistically more likely to get sick from your salad than from sauerkraut," said Kevin Farley, owner of Cultured Pickle Shop in Berkeley, CA, where sauerkrauts, watermelon rind kimchi and other funky condiments thrive. Farley lambasted any separation humans feel from the microbial world as artificial and invented. What do these thought leaders predict is next for the slowly changing American food landscape? An emerging interest in aquacul- ture, a movement toward zero-waste (see: France's new bill banning supermarket food waste) and a culture that takes better care of the population that helps it get dinner on the table every night. Sean Sherman, The Sioux Chef, sautés squash and eggplant. The South Dakota native has studied the cooking traditions of Native American tribes across the Dakotas and throughout Midwestern states along the Great Lakes, utilizing less common ingredients like dandelion and purslane, and noting that Americans enjoyed a low-glycemic diet before the introduction of sugar and dairy con- tributed to increased health risks. Now, Sherman shares his knowledge of wild and traditionally cultivated foods in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. Chef Kevin Sousa (far right), owner of Superior Motors in Braddock, Pennsylvania, scopes out a table of micro- greens at a private farmer's market set up on The Chef's Garden property. Sousa made headlines when he raised $300,000 through Kickstarter to raise the funds needed to launch his forthcoming restau- rant. He cited being able to pay living wages and provide healthcare for his employees as priorities, while speaking as a panelist during "Working with Dignity: Creating Ethical and Fulfilling Opportunities for International Employees." Social media was an ever-present guest at the Roots Conference, as emcee Dr. John Sconzo proved. Sconzo co-founded a chapter of Slow Food in the Saratoga Region of Upstate New York, maintains a food-focused blog as well as being a full-time practicing anesthesiologist.

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