Now in the midst of what some people are calling the worst depression in our country’s history, we are privileged, yes privileged, to be in the thick of and many cases taking part in a cultural and food revolution. Never have organic and all natural products been so commonplace and such a staple in home kitchens. The obesity epidemic coupled with the financial crunch, means people are realizing things have to change now, all across the board, including the way we eat.
Now you may see more farmers’ markets popping up in your city, or a new one in your neighborhood. You might notice that the menu at your favorite restaurant is taking it upon themselves to let the diner know where their products come from. What you may not notice, is that this change has been a long time coming. The farm-to-market roadside stand and the farm-to-table restaurant aren’t the fads you expected them to be. This is a food revolution that’s taking place right before our eyes, in our communities, neighborhoods and cities all across America. As far as anyone can see it’s here to stay.
Now, much of this can be contributed to the rise of the celebrity chef in America. When Julia Child did her first television cooking demonstration in the early sixties in which she made an omelette, it wasn’t because she was looking for a hundred grand and a shiny new kitchen sponsored by some appliance company. When Yan decided he could cook, it wasn’t so he could attend red carpet premieres and wear a collared shirt under his designer chef jacket with his three hundred dollar jeans, but I digress. Chefs are commonly celebrities these days, with shows like Hell’s Kitchen, Top Chef, Chopped, and Kitchen Nightmares often the topic of water cooler conversation the next day. Food awareness, education and curiosity are at an all-time high. Home cooks are becoming more adventurous and enrollment in culinary schools has never been higher. In fact, the number of schools offering culinary education has more than tripled in the last 20 years, giving rise to gastronomic education all across the board.
Now the Chefs Move to Schools program is catching on. Launched in 2010 through the United States Department of Agriculture, the program enables chefs to partner with schools in their community so together they are able to create healthy meals for students that meet the schools dietary guidelines and falls within its budget, all the while teaching students about nutrition and making smart, healthy decisions when it comes to eating. This comes at a time when Chef Jamie Oliver’s television show Food Revolution proved elementary school students in Huntington, West Virginia unable to identify basic fruits and vegetables. Hopefully this program will lead to a better educated group of young people, and this will persuade these children and their families to make a change for the better.
Now, change is a comin’ and has been for quite some time. Organic grocery delivery companies are sprouting up all over the country, and you can have delicious, farm fresh vegetables delivered to your door weekly. Take Greenling, for example. Based in Austin, Texas, Greenling is a cooperative of nearly thirty producers of everything local. From Texas citrus to peaches, creameries to bison ranches, if it’s local and sustainable, Greenling will get their hands on it and have it delivered to your door. They are helping farmers, producers and artisans to accomplish what many thought was impossible in the age of industrial farming: providing quality organic produce that’s both environmentally and economically stable.
Now that this food revolution has finally gained a foothold, it’s starting to trickle down, or up, depending on how you look at it, to chain restaurants and grocery stores. Markets are starting to feature local produce and farmers and holding cooking demonstrations and tastings on sight. Organic grocery stores that have long-since been go-to stops for soccer moms are now seeing a flood of younger customers looking for the healthy alternative. Even those who don’t shop at organic-only stores are slowly starting to buy local or organic produce at their store of choice.
Now, with the focus on sustainably raised and healthy organics, celebrity chefs, better nutritional information and education to our youth, along with the well educated foodies and the most competitive food scene we’ve seen in decades, it’s time for you to join the revolution. Start small, check out a farmer’s market this weekend, or go big and start your own maple syrup farm! Whatever it is, get to it, because make no mistake – we’re smack dab in the middle of a food revolution!