27 October 2008

Indiana, The heart of American food

As I was getting on the bus this morning to go to a conference of developing sustainable menues at Terra Madre I introduced myself to an individual from North Carolina. As soon as I mentioned I was from Indiana she said, "you guys are at the heart of change in this movement." The past couple of days I have heard over and over again how Indiana needs to step up and lead the change of food in the United States.

On Friday night I had dinner with several culinary instructors from all parts of the United States, all of us teach a class around American Regional Cuisines. I asked the group to tell how they desribed each area we were from when they lecture in the class. I was shocked to hear people from California and a large school in upstate New York talk about the Midwest. I have always thought of us Hoosiers as a people that love our meat and potatoes. While they agreed with that, they said our most important contribution was the food we grow. They explained that we said the standard for what is grown and consumed. After a couple hours of discussion on this, they had convinced me that what we grow and how we grow it does set the trends for the rest of the country...and eventually the world.

87% of all produced consumed in the world today is Corn, Wheat or Rice. Throw our Soybeans in there and we gain another couple of percentage points. We have big agro-business doing research, leterally, in our back yards. We really need to make a stement for biodiversity and ask farmers to grow product that we can eat without having health concerns. Our words go directly to people that can listen and make a change.

It is illegal in the state of Peidmont, where we are for Terra Madre, to use GMO's and harsh chemicals. As we drove through the country side the first night I was noticing how the corn stalks looked like they were melting into the ground. One of the Ag Agents from the US that was on the bus explained to me that a normal healthy soil will digest a corn stalk in a month. That the sugars in the corn stalk will feed that soil through the winter. He went on to talk about how in the US it takes about 2 years for corn stalks to be digested by the soils. Because the soils are depleted of bacteria by the use of pesticides. In a health soil the good bateria eat bad, invading bacteria. An example of this would be that in a healthy soil, Dangerous E.coli are eaten by the good bacteria. But, in a soil that has been stripped of good bacteria by pesticides; the E.coli grows and attaches to the vegitables that are growing. So, we end up with lettuce, peppers, etc, that make us sick.

It is time for us "hoosiers" to stand up and tell our leaders that we want Good, Clean and Fair food. All of us in Indiana are leaders, wheather we know it or not. We need to use our voice with emial, and letters to leaders in governement and business. We need to vote with our dollars at the stores and restaurants. We need to vote for a leadership that is for long term health of its people. Instead of short term growth for business. You are the leaders, lead!

Chef Thom England

1 comment:

almostAchef said...

You always think of Indiana as the last place in the country to be affected by trends, so these comments made by others are a real paradigm shifter. Thank you for these comments that inspire me to connect more and act upon these ideas of which you write.

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