Mario Batali, Dan Barber, Peter Hoffman, and Michael Romano, but not all that many other New York chefs so far (and no, not Alice Waters) are among the 300 industry types who’ve signed a letter encouraging President Obama to continue to promote sustainable practices. Chefs Collaborative, the group that distributed the letter, is presumably psyched about the presence of locavore Sam Kass in the White House kitchen, but they can tell that Obama has a ton of extra time and money on his hands to do more. The full letter, if you care to read it, is after the jump.
Dear President and Mrs. Obama,
We, the undersigned chefs and food professionals of Chefs Collaborative, thank you for beginning the critical work of steering our country onto a more sustainable course. We have read with great pleasure and pride that you are giving much-needed attention to sustainable food issues; we write now with a renewed sense of hope that together we can change the way we think about food in this country.
Indeed, through the example set by the White House kitchen, you have the ability to continue to show the country that your staff prepares and serves food that reflects the important connection between our food choices and the long-term health of the nation. It is an opportunity to serve food that celebrates our rich cultural heritage, our diverse culinary traditions, and the historic agricultural backbone of our nation.
In our kitchens, we find that making sustainable food choices consistently results in more delicious food on our plates. Such choices also invigorate local communities and economies, preserve landscapes and watersheds, and reduce fossil fuel consumption.
For more than a decade, Chefs Collaborative and its members have balanced the demands of running profitable businesses while respecting our organization's core principles. We have taught ourselves and others – through workshops, publications, food demonstrations, and conferences – how to procure, cook, and think about the foods we serve. By continuing to promote the practice of cooking with local, sustainable foods in the White House kitchen, you will inspire more chefs and home cooks to focus their attention on making better choices in their own kitchens.
We are proud to share with you the following beliefs, which have been essential to helping stimulate public discussion about our mutual values:
• Food is fundamental to life, nourishing us in body and soul. The preparation of food strengthens our connection to nature. The sharing of food immeasurably enriches our sense of community.
• Good food begins with unpolluted air, land, and water, environmentally sustainable farming and fishing, and humane animal husbandry.
• Food choices that emphasize delicious, locally grown, seasonally fresh, and whole or minimally processed ingredients are good for us, for local farming communities, and for the planet.
• Cultural and biological diversity are essential for the health of the earth and its inhabitants. Preserving and revitalizing sustainable food, fishing, and agricultural traditions strengthen that diversity.
• By continually educating themselves about sustainable choices, chefs can serve as models to the culinary community and the general public through their purchases of seasonal, sustainable ingredients and their transformation of these ingredients into delicious food.
• The greater culinary community can be a catalyst for positive change by creating a market for good food and helping preserve local farming and fishing communities.
We encourage you and your new administration to let every meal from the White House kitchen – whether for your family, guests, or visiting dignitaries – herald these fundamental principles, the greatness of our nation, and your bold vision for change. We applaud and admire the work you have already begun in championing local and sustainable foods. Collectively, we offer you our assistance, experience, and support in this vital endeavor.
[Current list of signers here]