I have a few culinary heroes in my life…but one my most respected fellows in our food system is not a chef. First and foremost he is a Midwestern farmer….that holds an impressive list of academic appointments and accomplishments, including being recognized a along time leader in sustainable agriculture. His name is Fred Kirschenmann and if I could, I would have a poster of him in my office. His vision to transform the US agricultural landscape has impressed me since the day I read his collaborative white paper called Why Worry About the Agriculture in the Middle?
Its a somewhat complex analysis of the state of our family farms, but sufficient to say that these mid size farms are disappearing at such an alarming rate that they are expected to vanish within 10 years! They are the backbone of a sustainable food system that we cannot afford to lose. With them will disappear a great diversity of foods, open spaces, clean air, and a rural historical culture that will be replaced by endless fields of mono-crops and their associated environmental and social impacts.
I was recently humbled by Fred’s invitation to participate in his vision to preserve that landscape when asked me to join the Board of Trustees for The Association of Family Farms. I am excited to be able to bring the Bon Appétit business experience to a project that that will support a system of value chains designed to help family farms thrive and prosper while bringing back to the plates our eaters food that is alive with flavor and nutrition. These last words are a part of our Dream. We now have an opportunity to make them a part of the American dream.
posted by: marc a zammit, director culinary support & development