How To Feed the Planet in the Future
Chefs are Stewards of the World's Ecosystem
The World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS) and the city of Daejeon, South Korea, unveiled a new global initiative, “How To Feed The Planet In The Future”, at a Roundtable Discussion during the WACS General Congress on May 4.
Panel members included Rick Moonen, executive chef and owner of RM Seafood, Elisabeth Vallet, director of European Programs at SeaWeb, Mats-Eric Nilsson, author, food writer and investigative journalist, Sanjeev Kapoor, chairman of Indian Cookery Ptv Ltd, and Yen Koh, executive chef at Unilever Food Solutions in South East Asia.
The panel issued a declaration to all members of the culinary community to use their abilities to shape the future and create positive change. The declaration outlines basic principles and specific action plans for developing and disseminating food for the future to enhance the health of humankind and improve the quality of life. Chefs and members of the culinary community hailing from more than 90 countries pledged to be more sustainable in their work as a result of the panel presentation by signing the declaration.
“As chefs and members of the culinary community, we are stewards of the world’s ecosystem,” stated Gissur Gudmundsson, chef and president of WACS. “Every one of us has a responsibility to implement practices that promote health, nutrition, and sustainability. If we serve the Earth, it will serve us.”
Elisabeth Vallet, director of European Programs for SeaWeb’s Seafood Choices program, takes the microphone at the WACS World Congress, May 4.
Photo credit: WACS.
The panelists spoke of several ways to practice sustainability when preparing meals. Some principles, like supporting locally grown and in-season ingredients, are familiar principles to shoppers at stores like Whole Foods that label produce and seafood with such terms.
But the panelists also called for chefs to be socially responsible by “minding” technology that supports new dependable sources of food in areas of the world afflicted by famines, underdeveloped agriculture, deforestation, desertification, and where inland and marine fish stocks are dwindling.
It was stressed that sustainability efforts do not stop in the kitchen, but must be communicated to guests at the table. The movement toward a more sustainable world is at the grassroots level, the panelists explained.
A chef can introduce new crops and species to the public to support new, dependable food sources. A menu involving ingredients lower on the food chain stresses the ecosystem less.
|Panelists stand by while Gissur Gudmundsson, president of WACS, signs the Feed the Planet declaration at his organization’s 35th World Congress.
Photo credit: WACS.
“Know your food” was another goal. Where did it come from? How was it harvested? Chefs can safeguard food quality, nutrition, flavor, safety and reliability by finding out the answers to these questions.
Moreover, food quality— which can be compromised by adulteration or counterfeit labels— can be examined using appropriate protection and monitoring systems, panelists said.
Moderator Rick Moonen laid out a three-step process for taking concrete action on these principles.
First, ask questions, especially of the supplier.
Second, adjust the menu and operations accordingly.
Third, evaluate the changes and train staff about what has been done in regard to nutrition and integrity in the workplace. Training should include how to let consumers know about these changes.
WACS has 10 million members to whom it will continue to promote sustainability principles via Feed the Planet seminars and events.
“There are no borders where chefs are concerned. As a united chef body, we can do so much together, from saving the planet to humanitarian efforts,” said Charles Carroll, WACS congress chairman. “And who better to do this the global body of chefs, the World Association of Chefs Societies.”