Endangered Foods of the Gulf South

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Posted by: Chefs Collaborative

For Chefs, Getting Their Hands Dirty Makes Economic Sense

More reports are rolling in about chefs getting their hands dirty by growing their own produce.  Beyond the educational benefits of connecting cooks to food in its most unaltered form, chefs are beginning to realize that there are economic perks to growing their own food as well.  While the initial start-up – in both labor and capital – seems a bit daunting at first, when the product in question is organic produce or herbs, the savings start adding up.  Read more about chefs who have turned into sharecroppers here.

Are you a chef producing your own ingredients?  Share the challenges and rewards with us in the comment section!

Posted by: Chefs Collaborative

Roof Gardens Bring Produce Even Closer to Home

What better way to supply your restaurant with beautiful, seasonal ingredients than by planting a garden on its rooftop?  Chefs are taking the farm-to-table connection one step further by growing their own produce on-top-of-house, raving about the freshness of vegetables picked not that morning, but literally an hour before service.  Read more about the educational and environmental aspects of rooftop gardening, as well as restaurants and companies who have embraced it here.

Source:

http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/food/articles/2010/07/07/roof_gardens_are_a_growing_component_of_restaurants_usage_of_local_sources/?page=1

Posted by: Chefs Collaborative

Food is Patriotic

Hello all, and Happy 4th of July!

As I start getting ready for Boston’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular, I can’t help but reflect upon the theme of independence as it pertains to one of the things I care about most: food.  Can we truly say that we’re free from hunger?  Independent from influences that produce items that look like food, but nourishes us nothing like it?  Is our food system truly free?

Food plays a huge role in holiday traditions worldwide, and America is no exception.  On this day, let’s take pride in our regional dishes, and the regional food systems that inspired them.  Today, let’s be thankful for the people who produce food locally and responsibly, and those who support them.  Let’s redefine what it means to be “proud to be an American” in culinary terms.

Posted by: Chefs Collaborative

Organic farms benefit from bounty of bugs

Ever wonder just how your local organic farmer does it?  If they don’t use pesticides, why are the crops not just devoured by bugs?  How is it possible to buy organic food that is attractive, abundant, tasty- AND pesticide free?

A new article published yesterday in top science magazine Nature gives some insight into why and how organic pest control works.  According to the study by Washington State University researchers, it’s all about the bugs.

Potato beetles can cause damage to crops (photo from Nature magazine)

On conventional farms, pesticides are used to kill insects that damage crops, but they end up killing beneficial insects (predators that eat the harmful insects) as well.  The study showed that insect communities on conventional farms had too few predators to control harmful insects.  Organic farms, on the other hand, had more balanced insect communities, and the predators were better able to keep bad bugs in check.

In the study, which focused on potato plants, the organic farming methods actually provided better pest control, with 18% fewer pests than the conventional fields, and the organic plants grew 35% bigger than their conventional counterparts.

Wait- the organic plants had fewer pests and were bigger?!  This goes counter to much of the debate around organics, in which it is often argued that “organics can’t feed the world” or that chemical “crop protection technologies” are necessary to growing a robust and productive crop.  Looks like those crazy hippies might be on to something.

So the next time you’re picking up some organic produce at the farmers market, give thanks to bugs- the predator insects that help your pesticide-free food grow!

Posted by: Chefs Collaborative