Recipes for Change

Imagine a society based on food rather than money, where what
you eat matters more than what you buy.
Chef Jean-Louis Themistocle
calls this a ‘gastronocracy,’ and he’s trying to create one in his
native Madagascar. As
Michael-Oliver
Harding of the Montreal Mirror reports
, the renowned
chef is leaving Montreal to pursue a gastronomic utopia based on
environmental and social responsibility.

Through an organization he founded called ‘Cuisiniers Sans
Frontieres’ — like Doctors Without Borders for chefs —
Themistocle plans to teach people from developing countries about
the culinary arts. He hopes that his 350-hour workshop will help
unemployed people find jobs in hotels and restaurants. The program
also focuses on environmentally sustainable practices like
composting.

For those who can’t up and move to Madagascar, there are plenty
of smaller ways to better the world with green cuisine. ‘Every time
you buy food,’

Anna Lappe writes in Spirituality & Health
,
‘you’re voting for the world you want.’ Lappe points out a few
concrete steps that people can take, like buying local and fair
trade certified foods. Another suggestion: ‘Look for ‘100% organic
ingredients.’ That’s your guarantee that products were made from
solely organic ingredients.’

But Ronnie Cummins, founder of the
Organic Consumers
Association
, warns that conscientious consumers may have to
start looking beyond labels. In an
interview with
Satya
, Cummins explains that corporations are
‘degrading organic standards [and] bending the rules’ to turn a
profit.

As an example, Cummins points to Silk, the leading seller of soy
milk. Owned by Dean Foods, a $10 billion food conglomerate, Silk is
part of a larger trend among corporate organic food sellers
outsourcing their farming to China. That means burning tons of
fossil fuels to bring ‘eco-friendly’ products to your local co-op.
Plus, some complain that organic food standards are more lax in
China. What’s more, according to Cummins, Chinese workers are being
paid ‘slave labor’ wages by ostensibly socially responsible
companies. Corporate organic food producers may tout their green
credentials, but consumers are often duped into contributing to a
system of worker exploitation and environmental degradation.

Keeping current on socially responsible foods can be a constant
struggle, especially with companies that, according to Cummins,
‘deliberately conceal’ the origins of their products. But the
worthwhile struggle has worldwide implications. ‘What you do with
your knife and fork,’ says Cummins, ‘has a lot to do with world
peace and justice.’

Go there >>
Food
for the World

Go there too >>
The Rotten
Side of Organics

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