I'll take it as a given that you like food. But no matter what your style of eating and cooking is, I'm betting the complexity of the American food system can leave you confused, judgmental, guilty, apathetic, or overwhelmed. If that's true, here's some good news: Once in a while an original voice comes along and breaks through to offer clarity and a new way to conceive of something.
That voice belongs to the renowned chef Dan Barber, a man labeled as chief among those in America most committed to the farm-to-table movement. In his well-written and well-researched book The Third Plate, Barber says the farm-to-table movement does not go far enough. Are you starting to envision a future of having to grow everything yourself?
That's not Barber's point, though you can't eat his vegetables at Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Westchester County without thinking that you really need to start a vegetable garden as soon as possible. He's masterful with all manner of food but he's exceptional at coaxing the essence out of food as if it were the creation of a delicious Haiku. Does everything work? No. But the man has gotten me to savor the beauty, deliciousness, and strangeness of what I would consider weeds, or animal parts I had assumed were useless, only to discover how fantastic they are. He offered me butter from a single cow at Stone Barns farm that had me falling over in ecstasy. Clearly, he has been moving toward a future-forward philosophy of food best described by author Andrew Solomon, who said about Barber, "How we eat makes us who we are and makes the environment what it is." And here's what he is referring to in Barber's book, or manifesto... The Third Plate, as chef Barber envisions it, is an integrated system of vegetable, grain, and livestock production that is fully supported—in fact, dictated—by what we choose to cook for dinner.
The third plate is where good farming and good food intersect. And it's rooted in a worldwide tradition across cultures.
- Dan Barber – author of The Third Plate
- “Gne Gne,” Montefiori Cocktail
- “Transitions,” El Ten Eleven