Who is to be the arbiter of the provenance of our food that we eat in restaurants? Who is to be the judge and jury when it comes to claims of organic or local. Are restaurants, chefs and owners ever taken to task on claims of sustainability, locality and food miles associated with the food they present to diners?
One has cause to wonder how many of these claims are true when they are touted from these venues. I am perhaps presenting a cynical viewpoint around these claims, but with the buzzwords of sustainability and provenance becoming the norm, it is easy to imagine that there will be some who will exploit these opportunities. How many people are jumping on the bandwagon because it seems to be trendy and the right thing to do?
As the globalization of food markets has become more apparent, and the ease with which produce can be moved between states, countries and continents, consumers have become much more aware of origin of their food and have become more demanding for knowledge about the food that they eat.
One advocate for sustainability is chef and restaurant owner, Maurice Esposito, who was awarded the inaugural Epicure Sustainability award at the 2011 Age Good Food Guide awards in Melbourne. He, has long been an advocate for sustainable fishing and consumption of seafood. This is an award that is richly deserved as he does have a passion for keeping our waters safe from overfishing and exploitation of this wonderful resource.
Former Chef of the Year and Restaurateur Andrew McConnell is one of those operators who stands by his claims of sustainability and locally produce. “I am passionate about local produce and care very much about what we put on to the plates at Cumulus Inc, Cutler & Co. and Golden Fields. Any claims we make about the provenance and sustainability of the produce we use, we absolutely stand by.”
We, as consumers, writers and commentators must become more vigilant about claims of locally produced, grown or farmed. If we continue to believe that every operator is using eggs that come from free range chickens from a farm up the road, then we must demand evidence of this. How many breakfasts are we eating that have eggs farmed by battery hens, and yet, we believe are free range?
I hope I am not banging another trendy drum here by asking the questions? I am certainly not wanting to take my seat on a rickety bandwagon either. Rather, we need to ensure that the food we are eating and the claims that are being made about this food are, in fact, true and worth our consideration.
Otherwise we are collectively responsible for the destruction of some of the world’s most wonderful food resources.
And in the future, we will all be found guilty if we don’t act now.