Here’s what young cooks say they can do to fight climate change

After listening to chefs and academics talk about their journeys, experiences and ideas at the Chefs Conclave 2019 at WGSHA, Manipal, these culinary students said this is what they would do to be food citizens.

Mar 19 · 6 min read

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As a cook, what can you do to reverse global warming?

Like the world around us is filled with noise, so is this word cloud. It’s up to us to see what’s best and filter out the rest and be the change we wish to see.

These were the 321 responses from 161 young chefs at WGSHA who believe they can take action to reverse climate change. Some were witty, others, pretty straight forward, like- “Use your brain!” but this list below is a summary of the positives we can draw from the word cloud and work towards from inside the kitchen.

Eat Local, with variety:

The Future of Food is Biodiverse: Where Flavor and Sustainability Meet — Danielle gould

Cook Smart:

Technology helps us become efficient. Food waste management platforms like Leanpath or Winnow or LightBlue Consulting, help restaurants save money each month, by helping them to be economically sustainable by monitoring and enabling them to waste less food. Or even AI and machine learning driven kitchen intelligence platforms that help chefs to develop recipes through recommendations to match consumers tastes and seasonal ingredients.

Ghost Cheffing: Yeast Labs

Mindfulness:

The secret ingredient needed for the modern day kitchen — mindfulness — Girish Nayak

There is often a lot of noise in the kitchen, in our personal lives on social media (FOMO!) which makes it hard to concentrate on the task at hand — cooking. What can we do to be more mindful of ourselves and of others and the food we eat and cook?

Food can be a powerful (and delicious) tool to start our journey towards mindfulness, take a listen.

Less Meat; Alternative meat; Plant-based meat:

The last couple of years has been the rise of the alternative, plant-based proteins for better environmental and human health. This read gives a thought-provoking view on the need for the right kind of communication.

Specificity is important, Mitloehner insists. Being able to tell our farts from our burps, and our burps from our fossil fuels, is the first step to mitigating the effects from all of them

Sourcing responsibly:

The food supply chain has multiple challenges. How can a restaurant just by sourcing consciously help in building the local food economy?

Waste Less:

Waste is what’s left when imagination fails — Gayathri Rathinavelu

A good chef is flexible for innovation and creation. Adaptation of ingredients or recipes to wasteless or create value from wasted ingredients make us the solutions that could change the conversation; not waiting on technology to find a solution instead.

Use Waste:

Using waste not just from our own kitchens but looking around us for beyond our own bubble into spaces that are also facing this same challenge? Can we share these resources or by-products?

Instock is a restaurant that primarily functions of food that will be discarded from supermarkets. They take this nearby expired food ferment, pickle, dehydrate and use other techniques to preserve it and use it in their daily kitchen operations. As of today, they have saved nearly 600,000 kgs of food from going waste. They have even now created a system where they share the “waste” or rescued food with other restaurants as well.

Save Water:

India staring at severe water crisis, among worst in the world; Country’s water footprint is 3,000 litres per day, highest in the globe, says report

The Glass Half Full initiative by Garvita Gulhati, co-founder Why Waste is educating restaurants and consumers on using and wasting less water.

Stop Looking West; Start Valuing your Culture; Go back to the roots:

The #IndianFoodMovement created by chefs discovering the variety and tastes of Indian ingredients and making them sexy again. This movement has created opened lucrative markets for small producers and emphasizing on homegrown traditions, recipes and techniques and is educating and creating communities of people who are embracing this new found traditional deliciousness.

Less Plastic; use less clingwrap:

Indian cities generate 15,000 tonnes of plastic waste daily. The dependency on plastic to store, preserve and transport food makes the ban on plastic a tougher challenge for the entire food value chain. More alternatives at affordable prices are definitely to be able to comply with the ban.

… and more innovations like The Bombay Canteen’s delivery potli are needed. 🥇

Redefine Reuse/ Rechauffe?:

By calling food “waste” does it really make it “waste”? Most of the food that is “wasted” is still safe for human consumption. Can we change the narrative by changing words?

Source: Instock, NL

Organic:

Organic agriculture provides management practices that can help farmers adapt to climate change through strengthening agro-ecosystems, diversifying crop and livestock production, and building farmers’ knowledge base to best prevent and confront changes in climate. — Food and Agricultural Organization

Understand your ingredient:

Ingredients: Our profession only exists because of the ability to transform ingredients. Where are we getting them from? Why do we use them? Who makes or grows these products? Can we look for a local alternative?

Understanding our ingredients is the first step to being more conscious about food.

Use Biofuels:

A government initiative RUCO: Repurpose Used Cooking Oil, launched in August 2018 with the intentions of converting used cooking oil from restaurants and food establishments and converting them into fuels?

Would it be possible for restaurants to go full circle and have access to this biofuels to use it to run their establishments?

Terrace farming/home gardens:

Hyperlocal farming is becoming a trend; how much is it contributing towards reducing food miles?

Consume what's needed:

Without successful measures to restrain the consumption of resource-intensive foods by the world’s affluent or to reduce waste, sufficiently feeding the world will require worldwide annual crop production in 2050 to be more than 70 per cent higher than 2006 levels — J. Ranganathan; Shifting Diets for a Sustainable Future

Whether in the kitchen our we need to use our resources with care and understanding. Understand trends and techniques and why we consume how much we do.

and the last one…

Make food more awesome!

because honestly, that’s what we need. Cooks and chefs who are so enthusiastic about food that they understand where it comes from where it goes and how to make it as delicious as possible.


And that’s why I believe we can be Food Citizens once we understand how our value and impact extends way beyond the kitchen doors. Here’s how.

Elizabeth Yorke

Written by

When in doubt steam some idli’s

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