For all Chef Dan Barber's commendable passion about good food, he's doing nothing to make nutritious and ecologically-supportive food available to the masses. His focus on "greediness for flavor" and his admitted unconcern about ethical issues, along with the obvious elitism of his restaurants, makes this evident. Beyond that, for a man who claims dedication to a revival of ecological and nutritious food, his preferences are flavored (pun intended) by his utter ignorance of natural ecology and human land-use history. While there are reasons to support the local and humane husbandry of meat and dairy animals, Barber's claim that New England's native grasslands "want" to support grazing is a fiction based on the myopic history of humanity as beginning with the domestication of the earth 5,000-10,000 years ago (which, by the way, recent studies reveal was also a major contributor to pre-industrial anthropogenic climate change). New England's n ative ecology was climax forest, not grassland. Those forests were intensively cleared for the importation of domestic animals, all of which are non-native to the Americas and the cultivation of mostly non-native plants. That clearing was the beginning of the now-irreversible destruction of natural ecosystems that ultimately led to the Great Holocene extinction of 120 species per day (today). Topping off Dan Barber's willful ignorance about food is his refusal to consider whether the love or intention we invest in growing and preparing food is a vital ingredient. Decades of on-the-ground research and our own experience shows this to be true. Food prepared for profit can never be as nutritious - to the eater, the economy or the ecology - as food prepared as a gift to those we care about.
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