What is Sustainable Cuisine? – Part Two

What Has Food Become?

John A. Rizzo

“Food in America is cheap and abundant, yet the vast majority of it is diminished in terms of flavor and nutrition, anonymous and mysterious after being shipped thousands of miles and passing through inscrutable supply chains, and controlled by multinational corporations. In our system of globalized food commodities, convenience replaces quality and a connection to the source of our food. Most of us know almost nothing about how our food is grown or produced, where it comes from, and what health value it really has. It is food as pure corporate commodity. We all deserve much better than that.”

– Sandor Ellix Katz, author of The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved: Inside America’s Underground Food Movements

So, what is sustainable cuisine?

It encourages a regional food supply and a strong local economy, maintains a sense of community, encourages earth stewardship, and protects the future of small to medium-size family farms. It is approaching the farm, the ranch, the ocean, the vineyard and the dairy as an ecosystem that thrives through careful management of natural resources. It boils down to three parts: environmental, economic an social sustainability.

Ecological / Environmental

  • Organic/Biodynamic agriculture & viticulture
  • More Nutritious Food
  • Improve Soil Quality
  • Improve Water Quality
  • Promote Biodiversity
  • Energy Conservation


  • Support Local / True Economy

Social / Political

  • Better Tasting Food / Variety
  • Help Small Farmers
  • Reduce your Bodies Chemical Burden
  • Protect Farm Worker’s Health
  • Food Safety through traceability
  • Homeland Security

Principles of Sustainability

  • Celebrate the joys of local, seasonal and artisanal ingredients.Hydroponic vegetables and pen-raised fish will NEVER substitute for the flavor and quality of the ingredients that are in increasing jeopardy today.
  • Understand the source of the ingredients – the way they have been grown, raised or caught. Reconnect with the source of your meal. It’s not just about “food miles“. It’s also about knowing the source of your food, and community building.
  • Support sustainable agriculture and aquaculture, humane animal husbandry practices and well-managed fisheries.
  • Purchase from purveyors whose conservation practices lessen our impact on the environment. We vote with our $.
  • Choosing sustainable food products is about more than helping the environment. It’s about sustaining the heritage and the economy of whole communities.
  • Respect local economies, traditions and habitats are important parts of participating in a sustainable food system.
  • Reduce the amount of garbage and packaging by purchasing products with minimal packaging to begin with and Look for products packaged in recycled or recyclable material.

Sustainable and seasonal cuisine, has many benefits, not the least of which is great taste. It is also great fun to know that you are cooking and eating great food grown or harvested by local artisans. Let the flavors of seasonal produce and raw ingredients speak for themselves and inspire your cooking, the flavor will always be outstanding.

Robert Weir of the Grateful Dead said that music and cooking are very similar: they’re all about blending and taste. For us, great cooking is akin to a cappella music. The blending of voices or ingredients is more than the sum of their parts. Good cooking is not about how tall you can make the plate, but about what tastes best and what flavors complement and marry well with each other. Of course, you also have a wonderful time in the process of discovering and inventing these partnerships and blending their voices.

View Part One of this two-part post, “What is Sustainable Cuisine?

Image credit: John A Rizzo from The Sustainable Kitchen – Passionate Cooking Inspired by Farms, Forests and Oceans

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