We have all been told since we were children that we should eat a well-balanced diet of grains, dairy, fruits, vegetables and protein, along with an active lifestyle, in order to maintain good health and live a long-life. However, Dan Barber would like to supplement those recommendations with well-balanced and sustainable production of food.
Barber, the executive chef of Blue Hill in Manhattan, a trend-setting farm-to-table restaurant, was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2009. His influence does not only encourage new ways of preparing great tasting dishes, but also in promoting a healthy relationship between chefs and the farmers who produce the ingredients they use in their restaurants.
I was immediately drawn to Barber’s book The Third Plate upon reading the first few pages of the introduction. He describes his discovery of a variety of corn that had more flavour than any other he had ever tried. It was also one of the oldest varieties in America, dating back to the 1600s. This story introduces a book full of culinary discoveries that has made me reconsider every ingredient I cook with at home.
Barber’s vision for the future is a plate of food made up of ingredients sourced for mainly their sustainability of local farming. He encourages his readers to think about ways to cook all of the food the local farms produce, not only the choice cuts of meat and the best of the produce.
I think the message of this book is important for all home cooks and chefs to consider. Most of his ideas are not new; they have merely been forgotten in the pursuit of mass-production and cost reduction. Barber is calling us to re-think what we put on our plates for the sake of our children and grandchildren, while encouraging creativity and the discovery of great tasting ingredients that we would have never previously thought to consider.