Dan Barber —
Driven By Flavor

Dan Barber is a celebrated young chef — but his passionate ethics and intellect have made him much more. He's out to restore food to its rightful place vis-à-vis our bodies, our ecologies and our economies. And he would do this by resurrecting our natural insistence on flavor.

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Guests

is chef and co-owner of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns. He's received James Beard Awards for best chef in 2006 and 2009, and was named one of the world's most influential people by Time.

Pertinent Posts

These short films tell the stories of — and share the perspectives of — eight family farmers who echo sentiments harbored deep within the core of most of us.

SoundSeen (our multimedia stories)

A Visual Feast from Blue Hill at Stone Barns

View the splendor of chef Dan Barber's succulent table directly from the diner's chair. These photographs of a nine-course meal might make you rethink that next trip to the local sandwich shop.

Video Interviews with Krista Tippett

In the Room with Chef Dan Barber

Watch the renowned chef talk about his life-changing encounter with an apricot in France, and on why farmers markets and home gardens are a small slice of the regional food economies we need.

Selected Readings

"The Last Wild Food"

Restaurateur and slow-food advocate Alice Waters describes her experience of a bouillabase in France and how it influenced her shopping habits and seafood selection on the menu.

About the Image

Dan Barber gives a tour to Michelle Obama and other first ladies during a visit to Stone Barns Center in Pocantico Hills, New York on September 24, 2010.

(Photo by Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images)

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54Reflections

Reflections

While I agree with Barber's concern for flavor, I find his economy simply pandering to the rich. Will his rich clients push the U.S. federal government to stop subsidizing Monsanto and ADM, and start supporting local farmers? I doubt it. I expect that should what geographers call the friction of distance start going up, making local products more competitive, the agri-giants will figure out how to produce flavorless 'food' closer to market, leaving full flavor for the wealthy few, completely rejecting Barber's trickle down ideas.

His reply to the vegetarian question, to me, sounded like an addict desperate to rationalize his eating meat, particularly with saying that geography necessitates eating meat while ignoring that New Jersey's piedmont plains, which grow vegetables very well when they aren't paved over, are closer to Manhattan than upstate New York and New England. His next answer about growing kosher spelt in New York was a partial rejection of his very supposition that only animal products do well in the north-eastern U.S., and his injection of adding manure as a way of improving the soil to defend eating meat ignores the fact that until the 20th century that manure would have come from the animals used to plow the fields, not factory farmed animals raised solely to kill and eat. He also mentions willingness to use technology, but ignores drying beans and canning as a few of the ways of providing vegetarian diets year round to everyone.

And what of global warming? earthsave.org says vegetarianism is the "Most Effective Tool Against Climate Change in Our Lifetimes".

Perhaps Barber should ask himself if humanity's willingness to abuse and exploit animals is the starting point for our willingness to abuse and exploit other people. Maybe then he wouldn't be so angry and abusive in his kitchens.

How about interviewing Will Allen (local food for the not-rich) or Colleen Patrick-Goudreau (vegan food for everyone)?

With all due respect, to say that vegetarians don't commit "murder" is also a rationalization of valuing those creatures we humans find most like us over those, like plants, that don't mirror us as mammals. Plants don't have large eyes or cute button noses, so their lives don't have value. But the fact is, when you pick and eat a carrot, you kill it. As a Buddhist monk said, "The difference between killing a plant and an animal is that plants can't scream." Obviously we have to eat, and that act requires taking the life of another life form. That makes eating a serious act, and we should find ethical and eco-friendly ways to obtain our food. Also, the vegetables we eat often have a human cost. Many of those who grow and harvest our vegetables are exploited shamelessly. Eating is an act full of violence, contradictions, and complexity. When I say grace over a meal (either with meat or without), I am grateful for all the joy that went into producing it, and I apologize for all that suffered to bring that food to my table and in my mouth. To eat or not eat meat is a personal choice, but it is a choice that leaves no one's hands free of blood.

have you ever watched Meet The Farmer, the Earth doesn't just supply Dans farms and friends with great delicious food. I have worked in clean happy kitchens for many many years and when a person is hungry enjoy enjoy enjoy! I had the best dinner CHEF and kitchen help dinner served, at the foot of Ivory's Rock, Australia. And the Wine!!! Whew.

Annette, to your dramatic final comment, on blood, you should be aware, plants do not contain blood, so eating them does not result in blood on the hands.

You should also be aware, eating a plant based diet results in fewer plants killed than an animal based diet.

Animals raised on well managed pasture do not kill plants! In fact they make the plants stronger and the soil healthier - but the pasture must be properly manage.

I really appreciate this. It's so depressing that there are numerous people nowadays that don't care about eating healthy or about keeping fit. This is something that everyone needs to review.

Love your show. However the show on December 9th with the chef thinker he proved himself to be a fraud. The statement he made that he charges a lot of money for food that looks on a plate more like your homeade chicken pot pie than haute cuisine was his downfall.

If I am going to pay a lot of money for dinner in a beautiful building in a pastoral setting the least he could do is make it look nice. This piling food on a plate and charging a high price for it without caring for its' presentation show his arrogance. Part of the experience of cooking and eating is enjoying how it looks on a plate.

I am a horticulturist and can tell you it does not cost a lot to grow good food in your own yard. The fact that he says we cannot grow our food is sad. No we cannot grow all the food we need nor we can we all afford to eat at his restaurant.

I do agree with his take on being in New England (which the lower Hudson Valley is not) you eat meat and being a vegetarian is not "footprint" friendly.

It is a shame he comes across so holier than thou. He could do a lot to assist the problem of good food
if he were not selling out by selling up to the rich.

Greg Draiss

Greg I think he was being facetious in comparing his plates to that of chicken pot pie. Take a look at the slideshow of his work and you will see how haute cuisine they in fact are.....cheers

Pity Greg we have to judge everyone for everything they say. Dan was being Himself, he is real and honest just like you are being. be kind in words. Also running a restaurant is very very very very expensive, try it then perhaps you too will understand.

Thank you for pointing out that the Hudson Vally is not in New England. Mid-Atlantic state.

I generally agree with a lot of what Dan has to say, but I would disagree that New England cannot support sustainably a vegetarian lifestyle. There are many local growers of organic soybeans and other beans. Beans and legumes can be dried, canned or processed into tofu or tempeh for winter storage. I do not eat any meat or dairy and I am careful to never buy any protein sources that are not produced in NH or VT all year long. I concede meat and dairy are a logical and necessary part of our local agriculture, but so is vegetable agriculture.

I grow a lot of my own food, organically. This effort is all about flavor, economy, and ecology. I also have a full-time job, and an ill husband. So this effort for me is also about health. We eat fruits and vegetables from our garden, as well as eggs from our chickens. My health has gotten so much better (since I gave up eating sugar and grains four years ago), and my husband's condition is stable.

The economy piece is that we can afford to pay the mortgage on our little farmstead, because we eat at home (we eat out maybe three times a year), I bring my lunch every single day to work, and we eat mostly organic food (raw milk, organic yoghurt, raw cheeses) which we purchase, so to grow our own fruits and vegetables we can afford to eat all these organically grown fruits and vegetables.

Ecology--I support using heirloom seeds, by buying most, and saving some of my own, to help keep the variety of seeds available, to support those who save seeds. I use compost with chicken manure to compost much of our food scraps and waste from the garden, and give the appropriate waste to the chickens.

When I was in college, I read the works of philosopher Alan Watts voraciously. One of his most delicious essays is “Murder in the Kitchen.” The essence of that essay is this: We kill other living creatures (which include plants) in order to sustain our own lives.

Therefore, since we “murder” our food, we should honor our kill by raising it in a ethically and environmentally responsible way--above all, we should cook food well and not be wasteful. In terms of vegetarians versus meat eaters, Watts quotes an unnamed Buddhist monk: “The only difference between killing plants and animals is that plants can’t scream.”

Creating and eating good food is both a pleasurable and sacred act. That’s why at each meal, I give thanks for the lives taken to sustain me and the hardworking men and women (many of whom are exploited) who did all the dirty work for me. And while I might not be an award-winning chef, I cook with relish, devotion, and a generous pinch of love.

While I do buy as much food produced in and near my town as I possibly can, because it tastes better, I recognize that it is a rich man's luxury. The simple fact of the matter is that if all food in the world were grown with low yield heirloom varieties on organic farms, with meat and dairy produced from free range animals, the bulk of the world's population would starve. Modern high intensity agricultural methods are what makes it so that in today's world, the only famines are man made by war & conflict which disrupt transportation systems, not famines because the world produces too little food to feed everyone.

What a great show! I'm not interested in criticizing Barber -- nobody's perfect -- but he is pointing us in the right direction!

Once I followed a mostly vegetable diet plan that claimed to train your tastebuds and it did! Food tastes much better when you are hungry and if you purify your palate by foregoing all the packaged sugar, fat and salt, a half apple sliced up with a tablespoon of lowfat yogurt on it becomes like a rich and creamy treat! Unfortunately that diet depended too much on discipline and deprivation, but I learned (again) how great vegetables and fruits were and I have avoided but not ruled out meat ever since.

I lived in Japan for 2 years in the 1970's where a small plate (our dessert size), holding a fish about eight inches long, would be the "main course" for a family of four. No one felt deprived, because to them, of course, rice is the main course and everything else just makes the rice go down. ALL the fruit tasted good there, not like what we were used to eating from American supermarkets.

My father rarely went to church. The minister would shake his hand as he stood in line to leave the church after the Easter service and say, "See you again at Christmas!" Yet he was the most spiritual person I know, and it took me a long time before I realized that nature was his religion. He worked with wood, he did little experiments like Mr. Wizard, he grew tomatoes, he observed the backyard wildlife, he always knew the coming weather forecast. He had grown up on a farm in Norway and treated our Long Island suburban property much like his own little farm and laboratory.

Luckily, we lived near a fruit and vegetable stand (now defunct) run by a farming family across the street from their house. They brought the produce in from their farm further out on the Island and people came from all over during corn season to buy a dozen ears fresh off the truck. My father said that for corn to taste best you should start boiling the water first, and then go out in the field to pick it.

Every year in my small backyard I plant vegetables, sometimes with limited success, sometimes with too much produce to know what to do with. I have tasted my own corn when it is so fresh and tender and alive with a multitude of nuances of flavor and sweetness that it is almost like a transcendent experience. Really good tomatoes elude me, however, (except for the tiny ones, eaten like candy while I take a look at what's going on in the garden) and I am starting to question how good the seedlings sold in the nursery are. Yeah, my garden is an "organic" garden, but it's stocked every spring with about $100 worth of commercially grown seedlings. Growing from seed is a lot of work, but I may have to find some way to go in that direction.

The natural world is precious to me. Observing nature or working outside heals whatever is wrong with me. You can learn so much! Barber's discovery that flavor is the goal is serendipitous; it just makes so much sense.

I am reminded of when I learned that the way to breastfeed my children was to make myself comfortable first. Only when I could calm down and search for feelings of relaxation and pleasure inside myself would the milk "let down" so my baby could nurse contentedly. Ooooooooh, right, I've got it -- God set it up so that a hormone delivers pleasure to the mother in order for the mother to feed the child. It just makes sense.

If Barber can teach enough influential people to search for the best flavor when eating, buying and producing food, many other good practices may follow, or at least let's hope so.

To me good food is real food. None of the highly processed food that comes in boxes or cans. I want my children to know that real food taste better, and looks real. I try to teach them that food does not grow in a box or a can, and here's what it looks and taste like before someone pulverizes and strips it of it nutritional value. My younger son is into it, my older son use to be, but the junk food options at his highschool are taunting him.

I choose organic because I believe our organic farmers are close to God. They have hands in the soil and are working with love to raise food that is not going to hurt the planet. Large agri-farms are creating a system that has poor fair trade implications to the organic family farmer. Large agri-farms produce food in mega batches and sell it for less. The small family farmer makes less food, but it's better. They get pressure to sell their crops for the same price as the agri-farms. It's scarry. I believe the USDA Dept of Ag does very little to support the small family farm, and is creating grants and programs that support the large agri-farms. What will we do if small family farms go away? That will be a sad day.

Perhaps you can interview George Simon. CEO of Organic Valley(or C.E.I.E.I.O. as he likes to be called) to bring more awareness to your listeners about this crisis. He is doing an impressive champaign to recruit farmers. Check it out at Organic Valley web site.

Thanks for your show. I love it.

Bea

How food has transformed my life.

Since 2004, I have been on a quest to manage and live with Crohn's Disease. I have tried many types of health care, many supplements, with varying temporary success. Three months ago my gastroenterologist suggested I might need surgery, and he put me on a steroid. I thought everything would go downhill from there.

My fortunes changed at the end of October, when a health consultant in Ames, Iowa (Su Walker www.suwalker.com) told me about a well-evaluated diet that reduced symptoms by 90% within only 3-4 weeks for every one of her inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients who strictly followed the diet.... so I tried it.

This Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) basically involves eliminating all lactose, starches and mucous-producing foods, and sweeteners (except pasteurized honey).

For the previous year or longer, my entire diet consisted of only 6-8 vegetables, 2 grains, and eggs…. Plus a lot of supplements. Within 3 days of starting the diet, intestinal symptoms significantly decreased. Within 10 days, I could barely locate a Crohn's produced mass in my lower right abdomen. I started introducing suggested “legal” new foods and found that I could actually tolerate them. After 3 weeks on the diet my symptoms were at least 90% gone! Under my doctor's care, I gradually reduced, and have now stopped the steroid, and have also significantly reduced two other medications, with no recurrence of symptoms.

I am now eating several cheeses, nuts, a special 24-hour yogurt (no bifidus & yoged for 24 hours to "digest" lactose), more vegetables, and some fruit, which I never thought possible. I feel great and just want people who have suffered with similar diseases to know about this wonderful diet.

As a former NASA engineer and medical librarian I greatly appreciate the value of evidence-based medicine. My request is that professionals review the literature on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet* and conduct a rigorous clinical evaluation of the effects of SCD on IBD and health. It is also said to improve autism, diverticulitis, and celiac disease. If many people can benefit from this diet, it will certainly eliminate a great deal of suffering and medical expenses.

*References:

Website: http://www.breakingtheviciouscycle.info

Book: "Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health through Diet" by Elaine Gottschall, MSc.

In its 13th printing, translated into 7 languages, over 1 million copies sold.

Articles: Specific carbohydrate diet in treatment of inflammatory bowel disease.

Nieves R, Jackson RT.

Tenn Med. 2004 Sep;97(9):407. No abstract available. PMID: 15497569 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

The treatment of celiac disease with the specific carbohydrate diet; report on 191 additional cases.

HAAS SV, HAAS MP.

Am J Gastroenterol. 1955 Apr;23(4):344-60. No abstract available. PMID: 14361377 [PubMed - OLDMEDLINE

Best regards,

Craig Shaw

The first time I raised, butchered and ate my own Thanksgiving turkey was a real moment of truth for me. While I respect the choices that vegetarians make, I dont subscribe to the practice. But I believe our current industrial methods of raising animals is a horror. But were we just over-zealous Michael Pollan readers? Or did we really mean what we said. This was where the rubber met the road. As a combat veteran I never believed in letting other people do things for me that I was not willing to do myself.
So there we were, with our turkeys. We had raised them from tiny little fluffballs. Could we now kill them and eat them? I thought of all those turkeys in those factories, and did the deed. She had a great life, a sudden death, and a fine sending off.
Now we raise chicken, turkey and pork sustainably, gently and with love. We got a licence to sell our extras and feel really good about it. I have learned that feeling sad about killing an animal to eat it is totally natural and sign of respect and connection to what is on the plate. Its the taste of gratitude.

Dan Barber was posed the question, "what can be done to bring healthy, sustainable food to urban areas" (or as close as I can remember!). I think exploring that answer can include an interview with Will Allen, of Growing Power, here in Milwaukee. He has won a McArthur grant and made the Time list of influential people in regards to his work addressing that very subject! He has an integrated plan to use indoor and outdoor gardening, hydroponics and aquaculture. His is a very interesting personal and professional story. Best wishes, and keep up the good work. I never miss a podcast! Cathy S

Love this discussion with Dan Barber, but why does he keep referring to the Hudson Valley which is New York as New England? New England begins in Connecticut. Also Kosher and logic do not go hand in hand. Great show!

Hi Krista and Co,

I LOVE Being and get up early on Sundays so I can listen to it. I love that your show makes me think and realize the world is a bigger place and think about good things I can do to help the world. Usually I am SO THRILLED with yr guests.

I tuned in a little late on the Dan Barber show, but I was very alienated by him. I thought yr guest was quite self-important. I'm writing to you to say I thought the guest was disappointing.

His comment that people spend 4 hrs on tv and 5 hrs on internet, so can find time to cook like him? I am a full-time Mom to 2 kids with special needs and I spend less than an hour per week on TV and approx 1/2 hr on business stuff on Internet per day. I try to feed my family well and cook as much as possible, but the family has real other needs such as homework and baths and basic care.

Also his comment re vegetarians--land in Texas might be good for cattle, but there are enough American meat eaters, that adding oneself in to the no. Is NOT doing the planet a service...

Spending the kind of time he advocates on food is a luxury. And I don't know that I would spend that time if I could--one of my ambitions is to get to spend some time feeding people at a homeless shelter and taking my oldest son ice skating. I thought his work sounded rather like the high fashion clothes world--it does serve a purpose in developing designs for the masses, but he is on the screaming upper-class pretentious fringes...

Agian, I did not manage to catch the whole show--maybe there is something I missed. If yes, I apologize! :-)

Thank you again for yr show. If I had more time, this e-mail would be briefer. :-)

Best Regards,

Connie Foster

As always, a great show (Dec 9 2010).
I am not the best writer so this is a short message.
Dan was talking about why he is not a vegetarian and Macrobiotics speaks to the same issue of local food but in terms of Yin and Yang and cosmic energy Etc. A great show topic.
I started practicing Macrobiotics in the 1970’s and time has shown that the ideas behind the theory stand on their own. I would like to share them with you if that is of interest.
Thanks for the great shows.
Jody

I listened to the interview with Dan Barber on Onbeing this morning. He discussed how the food movement is an elite and expensive way of living. I lived many years in Mexico and found Mexicans very creative in making economical meals using local foods. Often, the basis of some of the most interesting recipes comes from trying to stretch few resources to feed many mouths. In Mexico this is accomplished by using intense flavor spread on inexpensive staples, such as corn and beans. The variety in preparations of tortilla based dough in Mexico is phenomenal, tortillas, tamales, tlacoyos, chilaquiles, tostadas, dobladitas, quesadillas, gorditas, sopes to mention only a few. The recipes for these are all corn based dough combining beans and an almost infinite array of flavors using inexpensive but nutritious cheeses, meats or vegetables and spices, whatever is available locally. Many of the vegetables used are available, but unappreciated in the U.S. Zucchini flowers, corn smut, pigweed, fava beans, stink weed and a variety of peppers, hot or not. These foods are, however, labor intensive. In Mexico, it is common for a family to supplement its income by preparing foods from home and selling them directly to clients or through a local grocery store. In the U.S., food safety requirements restrict such cottage food industries, but they could be developed, with nutrition and flavor in mind. Local schools, for example, could employ cooks instead of buying prepared menus, this is happening in some progressive schools across the country. Because schools have strict requirements on food preparation, it might be possible to keep those employees making tamales all day and selling or freezing them at night or offering take home "fast food" dinners for busy families. Recipes could be developed in accordance with local food preferences, but with the same goals of freshness, nutrition, flavor, ecology and education. When students are exposed to healthy food at school, they will seek it out at home. Food preparation and eating habits need to undergo this "hedonist" reformation at a democratic level, public schools might just be a start.

I love this show. I look forward to it every Sunday morning! Today's show with Dan Barber was funny and Important, bur most of all, educational and Inspirational. Thank You for enriching my life with your interviews and stories.

Dan Barber has been talking about growing food on a local basis with healthy soils and traditional seeds/varieties. I started my garden to try to save money and to sustainable but the best part of all of it were the super tastes and flavors. I was becoming sustainable and self-supporting and bio-diverse. I am a member of the Home Orchard Society and have been attempting to establish a diverse orchard of heirloom varieties. Many of us in the PNW have been trying to live this way -- maybe we are just old Hippies living simply and organically. AND IT IS ALL ABOUT TO COME CRASHING DOWN. Homeland Security zaps everybody with radiation to insure no-one has explosive underwear and goes through layers and layers of bureaucrazy including ignoring fundamental civil liberties. But they don't seem to care about the damage invasive pests can cause whether they be plants, insects, or viral/bacterial/fungal diseases. The PNW has for the last two years bee n invaded by the Spotted Wing Drosophila (Drosophila suzukii) that is one of two fruit flies that the female lays on ripening fruit. The maggots then feed and what these worms do not damage, can otherwise be damaged by secondary bacterial infections (brown rots in peaches for example) or secondary insect action. The results (from personal experience) are horrific. This invasive Asian fruit fly feeds on raspberries, blackberries (including the already invasive Evergreen and Himalaya types gone wild on thousands of acres), strawberries, blueberries, huckleberries, salmonberries, cherries, plums, apricots, peaches, nectarines, kiwi, fig, and very realistically pear and apple. Grapes too (both wine and table). Last year they attacked my canteloupe and if a tomato was split (as with rain), the flies attack those but causing greater damage to them with the mold they carried. In parts of Oregon, there can be 10 generations with the first (already fertile females) emerging in Februar y. One web site in California mentioned infestation rates of one-million flies per acre (24 flies per square foot). There are no known natural predators and farmers have been reporting crop losses as high as 80% with some crops being a complete loss. The current recommended control methods are highly toxic pesticides applied in blanket spraying. Because of the high reproduction rates and the high propensity for these flies to mutate (and thus become resistant to these toxic chemical) the effectiveness of these pesticides will likely be of short duration. The US Gov't is fighting two wars and has hundreds and hundreds of military basis around the world to support the exploitive practices of corporate capitalism. The US Gov't bails these sons of bitches out when the capitalist system becomes wholly bankrupt but the US Gov't cannot protect its citizens and its farmers and its ability to feed itself from invasive insects that have the potential to completely undermine and destroy a large segment of our food producing industries and devastate rural agricultural communities. The US Gov't refuses to adequately inspect and quarantine imported food shipments because corporations want unrestricted free trade and short term profits. Well Dan Barber can be all warm and fuzzy and nifty for a bit longer until the Spotted Wing Drosophila finally gets to his area (it invaded Florida in 2009 and it has already been confirmed in parts of North Carolina). On the West Coast, California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and now Utah. How many other states it has already invaded is unknown because it has not been officially reported (noticed). Fruit in the future, if it is available at all, will likely be incredibly expensive and/or wholly saturated with toxic pesticides. Toxic pesticides will kill hundreds and hundreds of non-target species, expose agricultural workers to obscene dangers, and pollute streams, rivers, groundwater and ultimately our oceans. And to make things even more sickening, there are native species of plants (Bitter cherry, hawthorn, Oregon grape, salal, red-flowering current, et. al.) that can become vectors as this fly spreads out into native ecosystems -- and where no-one is even attempting to consider the damage it could cause. All because of some little fruit fly about the size of the side of a paper match-head). Go to the Home Orchard Society and read the current thread on the Spotted Wing Drosophila and you will get a better idea of the complexity of this problem. Hell, Google "Spotted Wing Drosophila" and learn what the future will be -- Cuz there ain't no stopping this terrible menace. Welcome to the Brave New World of unfettered capitalism and modern technology, and species extinctions, and starvation, and poisoned air, water and land.

Hi, Krista. There was much to appreciate in the dialog with Dan Barber. Forgive me not reflecting on such while I offer points at which my appreciation waned. If I'm raising issues covered in the last 10 minutes of the broadcast, I apologize. I'm a pastor/choir-director an duty called me away from the radio about then. While Barber was reflecting on the elite-ness of the local food movement, I heard no recognition of the urban agriculture movement that is providing affordable fresh food in America's "food deserts". Barber's work seems not depend on touching the needs of communities of poverty and he even makes a case for a kind of trickle-down development of good ideas by elites becoming useful for others. If that's his world, well and good. I found myself wanting to hear, from Dan or from Krista, recognition that it's not only the world's elites who are rocking the food world's assumptions and consumptions. Folks without access to an idyll ic Rockefeller-funded piece of Catskills are producing a "good food revolution" in places like Milwaukee, Chicago, and Detroit. While there are many visionary voices in this movement, Will Allen and his organization, Growing Power, http://www.growingpower.org/ have rightfully been recognized by the MacArthur Foundation for the genius of seeing the power in simple things--compost, worms, and aquaponics--to transform the ability of local communities to feed themselves affordably and nutritionally. He transforms asphalt parking lots and "brown fields" into luscious sources of healthy food. Will's work is truly inspiring a movement. In Milwaukee, Sweet Water Organic Farm (http://sweetwater-organic.com/blog/) has repurposed a disused industrial space to become a viable source of good food. In a similar locally-focused project, Denver's Five Points neighborhood has given birth to The GrowHaus, http://www.thegrowhaus.com/, and it's beginning to bring affordable food to a neighborhoo d that needs it.) The list could go on. The point is that empowered people are finding simple technology and using it to provide good food in former "food deserts". So, this email is both a critique and a program suggestion. Please, if you've not yet done so, take a look at Growing Power and Will Allen as a way to balance the tone of the conversation established by the dialog with Dan Barber. The Good Food revolution is not just for those able to pay for pricey food in rarified places.

I thought I'd also pass on the following link that makes the point more graphically. http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/altgeld-gardens-community-gets-urba... Here are empowered people in the middle of a "food desert" taking responsibility for providing good food to fill their needs. Local. Organic. And, yes, even carrots. And, not at a premium price to appeal to elite pocket books.

Peace. Rev. Jeremy McLeod 248-635-4970

I Found it interesting listening to Dan Barber and thinking about how commercialized our food really is. We are no longer really getting something fresh from the supermarket because of how things are produced today. Your mood can dictate how you taste your food as well. When you feel better, and you are happier you will taste food in a way that you’ve never tasted before and will usually become more memorable. I too never really thought about how great it is to have fruit in the winter because of technology. We realistically should not be eating orange or lemon in Minnesota in the wintertime. Good food is not cheap, I like the example he uses about how we find 125 dollars for cable tv and we spend another 125 dollars for cell phones yet we don’t want to spend money on buy good foods, local foods. These things are produced with more care and have more flavor and nutrients then commercialized food. Its great how Dan Barber is using his own fa rms to help with research about how good food that is high in nutrients can also help to fight certain cancers.

about that carrot that whole foods sell, it must be a diet carrot, with zero sugar. And grapefruits and oranges are best bought and eaten in the winter months (in the northern hemisphere) when they are the ripest. Apples are best in the fall. People on the east coast should eat apples grown in the east, while people in the west should eat Washington State apples.

Wow, great show this week -- with Dan Barber. Thanks for doing what you do. You may find some interest in the following links as it relates to addressing the question of how to include lower income people in the food/sustainability movement. http://www.mlive.com/news/muskegon/index.ssf/2010/11/sharing_the_bounty_... http://www.mlive.com/opinion/muskegon/index.ssf/2010/12/susan_harrison_w...

Good morning,
I thoroughly enjoyed your broadcast with Dan Barber, chef of Blue Hill NY/Stonebarns in Indianapolis today.
I have one bone to pick with an aspect of the rhetoric in his statement. I disagree with his statement that this movement of localism and eating fresh food is top or trickle down in its genesis. All we need to do is look at the plantation slave gardens which required slaves to work after servitude to be able to grow that which was familiar and nourishing of body, soul and the political construction of self determination in at least one aspect of their lives to see that this movement started at the bottom; albeit without a publicist. Moving forward, I have shopped in immigrant farmer's markets for over thirty years, pre-Dan Barber's and Michael Pollan's presence on the stage. Please note that I respect them both and am quite glad for their good work. Yet, in these immigrant gardens working class people of little means worked as farmers to grow the familiar and as consumers budgeted low wages to provide and prepare locally grown food from scratch. Finally, your show is a littl e manna on a weekly basis whatever the topic or guest you have chosen to illuminate. Thanks.

There are several things I take issue with Dan on. One is that the flavor is attached to the seed that is planted. I grow the same tomatoes, turnips, potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc as other growers that sell at the same markets as I. Many of my customers ask me about the flavor of my vegetables and why they taste and keep so much better than others. The only answer that I can give them is that I have different soil. I have made sure that the nutrients are in adequate supplies and in balance and I do all that I can to make sure that the growing plant is not stressed.

The other point is that one does not have to live in the cooler northern parts to have full flavored produce. I can agree that my carrots do taste a little sweeter once the cooler fall weather has arrived, but they are still far superior to any other carrots available even in the warmer times of the season.

Overall, I like what Dan is saying about food and the connection of flavor and nutrient density. We have lost some of the ability to discern the difference in flavor and aroma because we have been feed such poor quality over the years that we did not have a quality reference. And he is correct in that once a person tastes higher quality, they do not want to go back to the norm!

This guy seems to think he discovered the knowledge that a well grown carrot, or a well raised animal, tastes better. Might be a surprise to him, but people have known this for thousands of years.

During this morning's On Being, Dan Barber was asked by an audience member why he isn't a vegetarian. He noted that he gets defensive when asked this question, remarking that vegetarians do not live on a higher ethical plane because their diets leave them "with blood on their hands," too. Mr. Barber need not feel threatened if he hears this question as curiosity, not challenge, a chance to converse, not argue. He openly asserts that his approach to food is hedonistic, and he can just answer the question on the basis of that philosophy: There is enjoyment, sensual pleasure, in eating meat. It is difficult to relax and enjoy a meal if we assume the people we're eating with are judging our morality with every bite, constructing elaborate arguments to attack what's on our plates and defend what's on their own. Food choices are intensely personal, like all choices made from the body. Dan Barber's deep thinking about food has led him to an omni vorous diet. Others' deep thinking will lead them to different diets. Ideally, everyone can sit at the same table, listen to what each other has to say and be nourished by both food and conversation.

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.

My soul was transformed for the better when I stopped eating animals three years ago. Contrary to popular belief, my taste and flavor horizons have only expanded in that time as I have explored foods and compassion in ways I never had before.

I once gave a service to our vanishingly (and I mean that literally) small church on the very topics addressed in this interview. The service is too long for this purpose, but the closing words should give you a taste.

I thank you all for sharing your company with me today and giving me the privilege of serving you. May you have many more good meals with dear friends and fine food. And may your hosts fill your hearts and your plates as God would have them filled. May these meals be ones that set you out on the great adventure that is the rest of your life. Amen.

The full four-course meal can be found at http://cuucservices.blogspot.com/2008/10/spiritual-history-of-food.html

I have two powerful visceral food memories that changed my relationship with flavor utterly. The first was my initial exposure to fresh basil, back in the late 1970s. Something inside of me stood up and said clearly in these words: "Now I am truly alive." I had no idea what I had been missing!

And that is an ongoing theme -- I had no idea what I had been missing.

In my 20s I cooked professionally, untrained as a chef, but I was daring and enthusiastic and made lovely food full of flavor. That was through the 1980s, before the heirloom food movement had become so visible.

Fast forward to the past few years... in my household we decided to grow as much of our food as we could, and to use only heirloom varieties of plants and chickens. And here comes my second powerful visceral food memory: eating heirloom dried beans. I cooked and ate over a half-dozen varieties of heirloom beans, one type per week, each prepared in the same way. I was totally blown away by the flavor and texture they had! And the differences between them. I kept saying to myself over and over again, "Where has this food been all my life?"

Well, the answer to that isn't simple, but this deeply and naturally flavored food is a part of my life, forever.

To say that vegetarians don't commit "murder" is also a rationalization of valuing those creatures we humans find most like us over those, like plants, that don't mirror us as mammals. Plants don't have large eyes or cute button noses, so their lives don't have value. But the fact is, when you pick and eat a carrot, you kill it. As a Buddhist monk said, "The difference between killing a plant and an animal is that plants can't scream." Also, the vegetables we eat often have a human cost. Many of those who grow and harvest our vegetables are exploited shamelessly. Obviously we have to eat, and that act requires taking the life of another life form. That makes eating a serious act, and we should find ethical and eco-friendly ways to obtain our food, and we should cook it well and with great care. Eating is an act full of violence, contradictions, and complexity. When I say grace over a meal (either with meat or without), I am grateful for all the joy that went into producing it, and I apologize for all that suffered to bring that food to my table and in my mouth. To eat or not eat meat is a personal choice, but it is a choice that leaves no one's hands free of blood.

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 (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dominion-matthew-scully/1100626249?ean=9780312319731). 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.

Gaye C.

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As someone who works in the food industry—and makes a living, in large part, telling the stories of chefs—I have to say I was taken aback by the level of vitriol in some of these comments.

First and foremost, the fact that the ingredients Barber uses are a "luxury" is not a reason to criticize him. His food is, by definition, aspirational - something for the passionate home cooks and sustainable eating advocates among us to aspire to in small ways in our day-to-day lives. Moreover, the reason local, nutrient-dense food is a luxury is that our current food system provides subsidies to genetically modified cash crops - namely wheat, corn, soy and also mass-produced dairy and meat. If we subsidized small organic farmers, it would be amazing how quickly the question of "luxury" would change.

On a personal note - the most important point that I think Barber made was the point about how we perceive cooking. He notes that some people see cooking as labor—I personally see it as freedom. The freedom to have some level of control over my health, to access an opportunity for creativity on a daily level and to infuse genuine pleasure into my day-to-day existence.

When we pursue high-quality, flavorful ingredients and understand where they come from, when we have to invest in our food system in order to reap its rewards, we experience gratitude. And that gratitude is the best inspiration for cooking, transforming common "labor" into a source of joy.

For those interested in exploring this idea further, I highly recommend reading Michael Pollan's "Cooked."

I'm sympathetic to a lot of this guy's ideas, but I came away from this podcast with a strong dislike of him.

First of all, I felt like he was trying to position his restaurant as an upscale status symbol that is out of reach for most people, and a place of social advocacy at the same time. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure his food is great, and he's entitled to charge whatever he wants for it. But offering an exclusive experience for the few is not a good way to showcase universal values for the many - this is probably what rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. I came away from this podcast feeling like eating at his restaurant was a way to show off what you can afford while at the same time feeling morally superior because you have embraced Dan Barber's values.

Also, the way he unapologetically admitted how abusive he is to his kitchen staff is not cool. I don't care if that's the norm in the industry, I don't care if it's because he's passionate about his food, and I don't care if that's how so-called "great men" tend to behave. If he has to abuse his staff, that's a character flaw he needs to iron out, not something to admire and celebrate. Do you want the values of organic, local eating to be associated with arrogant jerks? I don't. No amount of brilliance or achievement gives you the right to treat other human beings like that.

This was not only a lot of fun to listen to, but I was fascinated by some of the responses Barber had to the questions at the end--especially about the vegetarian footprint, and about why he eats meat. Thank you for sharing. What I really want to know, though, is...WHY are there no pictures of his food?! :)

As a vegetarian for many years, vegan 10 years, I cook most of the food I eat. I eat a good portion of my food raw as I find it most nutritious and delicious. At 59, I've lived well on this diet. I grow some of my own, much of it is purchased at a local weekly farmers market and very little store bought. You can eat this way very economically but it does take planning and buying beans and rice, etc. in bulk. I use no animal manure in my garden, only composted vegetable matter. I live on the Northern California coast and we are blessed in that we are surrounded by growers and farmers markets (no long transporting of food). In many areas of the U.S. there are community gardens and farmers markets so people can buy local. Here were I live animals raised for food are crammed into trucks then travel several hours to a slaughterhouse often in stifling heat. Were there is dairy farming the runoff into the estuaries that lead to the ocean renders the water contaminated. I don't see the ‘ecology’ or the humaneness in animal food production.

Krista your Sunday morning guests and yourself are refreshing. When Dan Barber can supply the People on the international space station fresh fresh great tasting foods, potpies salads, rich carrots He will be a genius for good.

I loved today's program. It reminded me of my father's garden. He was the most amazing gardener. My dad was a German immigrant to Canada (post WWII). I grew up in Northern Ontario, and the our yard was very sandy, which meant root veggies loved our soil. The sand was supplemented by the manure and compost pile that he kept behind the tool shed. Dad grew the most awesome, beautiful and tasty potatoes, carrots, parsnips, root celery, etc. One thing he did every year was to leave a row of carrots and parsnips in the ground through the winter and dig them up in the spring. Now I know why they were so good...it never occurred to me that the sweetness was "plant antifreeze".

I've heard this show twice. I eat mainly vegetables and have cooked most meals for myself and often for others for decades. I agree that it would be desirable in many ways to shift our food economy to many fewer processed foods. However I am not very impressed by Barber as a spokesman for an effort to do that. He is a clever person making a lot of money by serving unprocessed food to very rich people in New York. He argues that those habits will 'trickle down' to the lower classes but he offers no suggestions concerning how to make that happen. I think that movements to force MacDonalds and similar chains to offer more nutritious and more locally processed food at lower prices will do much more than dozens of interviews in which Barber brags of the great things he offers to his superrich clientele.

I live in Des Moines, the site of the world's largest nitrate filtration machine to try and remove chemical fertilizers from drinking water.

I am a novice gardener, and am growing food without fertilizer or large animal manure, instead using vegetable matter, mainly soybean and alfalfa meal. So far so good. I also have a worm farm.

The biggest disappointment in this program is Dan's glib comment about the lack of sustainability of vegan and vegetarian lifestyles. My guess is this comment is about favoring his own personal economics or taste rather than a factual assessment.

If Dan does think large animal manure is required, why not try dog and cat feces?

Inspiring!
Barber's for-the-glory-of-good-food enthusiasm may drive me to the nearby Farmers Market and into the kitchen, both of which He is absolutely see as tasks rather than adventures.

He is absolutely on target about how we assign value to what we believe in indispensable in our lives - such as cell phones and high-end clothing (my addition).

Glad to hear the recognition of the value of brix levels. I've been testing brix levels for some time and working to amend my heavy clay to healthy loam. And teaching these concept to anyone willing to listen. One does not need to own a farm and fancy restaurant to share the joy of eating local and preparing wonderful tasty meals - even on a budget! Unfortunately the food industry has too many people addicted to worthless junk food. We need lots of voices like Dan Barber spreading the word that high quality delicious food is worth investing it. Our cheap food turns out to be very expensive!

I appreciated some of what Dan Barber was attempting to say, but the white privilege and elitism that undergirds his entire enterprise, and the problematic conclusions he yields from his skewed perspective certainly came across in this interview.

I was particularly taken aback by his bizarre assertion that social justice movements have historically been started by society's elites and the smug, self-congratulatory air he assumed when making this silly claim. There is no social justice movement that has ever started without the resistance of those who were oppressed. Oppressors who are of course, by definition, elite, do not and have never suddenly come to conscience/consciousness on their own. Though of course false pride would likely prevent many from admitting or even recognizing that their sudden "enlightenment" is merely the result of them choosing to listen (however subconsciously) to the superior moral claims that had been placed on them by those resisting their oppression and speaking out against it.

It is true that elites may propel a social justice movement forward, but that is merely because their position affords them the power to help or hinder the movement. Power itself however is certainly no moral virtue in and of itself. The entire history of this country makes it clear that ethical elitism is an oxymoron.

On Being is a show that I enjoy most of the time, but I do believe that producers need to do a much better job of applying a critical perspective and analysis to the subjects that they choose to highlight and interview. Recent events in Ferguson, Mo. should have made it very clear that there is a serious need to think critically about and challenge what we have come to accept as the status quo in this country, and the kind of liberal white elitism that Dan Barber represents is very much a part of that status quo which warrants closer scrutiny.

Dan Barber has risen in the ranks with his spotless jacket and apron. He rarely cooks is what I surmise. The elitism at Stone Barns should be apparent to all, yet it is not. Success is not always positioned where it ought to be. Never trust a skinny chef, sounds about right. Skewed perspective, sounds about right.

As a farmer and farm activst, I think: Barber is somewhat exceptional in the degree to which he has listened to organic farmers, and then learned about that in relation to his role as a chef. On the other hand, like Michael Pollan (NATURAL history of food,) he's better on the biological side than at the social studies of the issues. Like the Food Movement in general, he's better at sustainability than at justice. For farmers, however, the core issue is justice ("farm justice"). Although the innovations of sustainable agriculture (as post mega-industrial science and technology, with elite academics involved,) have been a huge contribution to family farmers everywhere, "There's no food justice without farm justice, and there's very little sustainability as well." In his book, and in his recent interview, Barber does not demonstrate a knowledge of the history and core perspectives of the Farm Justice (Family Farm) Movement. He asks a question: why farm to chef hasn't been more transformative, and looks for answers, really, only in regard to sustainability. While he shows some great listening in doing so, I think he hasn't yet listened to the voice of "farm justice" farmers. We were, essentially, the whole movement for decades, (i.e. 1955-1995). NFO mobilized a million people to come out to meetings against cheap food in 19 states within 6 months. In the 1960s! We held OUR own debates for the presidential candidates on these issues. Unfortunately, the urban consumer/taxpayer didn't really show up in the game until the 21st century, after most of us had been run out of business. And then they wrote a sort of pro-agbiz history, in which we victims were blamed for the problems (subsidies) as if we were net beneficiaries of farm bill changes, when in fact, it had forced us to give away about $4 trillion to subsidize Ag Biz, and through them, consumers.

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