With a theme of “Bringing Sustainability to the Table,” Chefs Collaborative’s National Summit was held at Kendall College, Sept. 15-16, drawing chefs and media nationwide with a commitment to ecological sustainability in foodservice to the campus for the Boston-based nonprofit’s 2009 meeting. Keynoter Rick Bayless of Frontera Grill and Topolobampo fame broke away from his new restaurant, XOCO, to stress the importance of small, sustainable, family-owned businesses to the lifeblood of a town or neighborhood to an enthusiastic audience of nearly 150.
Besides plenary sessions on such topics as “Looking at Our ‘Carbon Footprint’: Food Choices and Climate Change,” the Summit hosted a sustainable-seafood reception at Shedd Aquarium and a tour of and lunch at Green City Market. But the biggest outcome from the two days was the advance news by Ann Wright, deputy undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, of a new federal initiative called “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food.”
“Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” is designed to support local and regional food systems through such initiatives as a farm-school program that would make it easier for schools to use federal dollars from the 2008 Farm Bill to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables from local farms, and allowing select state-inspected operations to ship meat and poultry across state lines, widening the market for small-farm operations.