Dan Barber was an interesting interview. I think he offered some thought-provoking viewpoints about experiences of eating, ways of growing and presenting food, and the nutrient and taste value of foods grown in certain ways and regions.
I do not subscribe to the line of thinking that Barber purports re: vegetarianism, however, and am not really even sure that his answers, as provided in the program (and via the transcript), adequately explain what he meant to say. His assertion that the ecological conditions in which he lives are dictating what he eats—well, I find it rather lame and a bit lacking in substance, as presented. How would he presume to know what the landscape or ecology "wants" to grow and support/sustain? (excerpt from transcript: "So for me to be a vegetarian and be a strict advocate of it wouldn't be listening to the ecology that the land is telling us it wants to grow. So one of the requirements of a chef, I think, for the future is not to propose a cuisine on the landscape. It's going to have to be listening to the landscape to determine what kind of chef and what kind of eater we want to be.")
Along this line, I appreciated what Cathy S. and Rev. Jeremy McLeod commented earlier here and definitely want to read more about Will Allen's work. This also reminds me of the book on my list (yet to read) with its very striking and absolutely stop-me-in-my-tracks cover and title, "Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy" by Matthew Scully (). I have not been able to get that off my mind since I saw it on the shelf. This program and my reaction to Barber's comments on the elite issue and vegetarianism also make me think of Little City Gardens in the San Francisco area and so many other urban farming projects and efforts to bring sustainable natural food culture to people who may not be able to access the same ecological conditions of a farm, otherwise.
Full disclosure--I am a lifelong lacto-ova vegetarian (I do eat milk/egg products, but sparingly), first by my parents' raising and then by my own choices later as I continued in adulthood. Many of my friends are not. We live in respectful disagreement about the issue and do not spend long hours debating it. In fact, it rarely comes up. But I find Barber's thought structure on this point to be disagreeable, not very solid, and perhaps even to come across a bit self-serving and elitist, both on the points of vegetarianism and on whether his offerings could be generalized out to less well-off clientele, so I wanted to post a response/reflection.
I do love that Barber and his family have found a way to preserve the beautiful area where Blue Hill and Stone Barns exist. I love how he describes some of the intricacies of food preparation, appearance, experience, and taste. I also believe, like several of the other responders, that there are other important and valid viewpoints on these and related ideas, and look forward to future shows that might feature additional important writers, thinkers, and chefs or non-chef trained cooks and food-growing culture folks who have equally excellent things to say along the continuum of all types of farming and preparation/development and sustainability of permaculture/and of animal versus vegetable culture, etc. I would particularly be interested in viewpoints tending more toward the social responsibility realm and supporting the bringing of healthy food to urban and low-income areas.
Whether I fully embrace the views of the guests or not, I do agree with one other responder...this program IS like a little manna each week. Always thought provoking. Many thanks.
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