“I mean, come on. How many months of the year can you harvest tomatoes in New York?” Anonymous Source
We heard this hard truth recently while talking to a restaurant manager who works for a “farm-to-table” branded establishment in DC. They were lamenting the fact that diners–especially those that purport to be extremely concerned with the food system–can’t seem to understand that ingredients they want year-round may not be available in the dead of winter.
Here’s the problem: People have been fed the phrase “farm-to-table” so many times they have a completely unrealistic view of a healthy food system. To them, the gold standard is a Point of Sale system whereby they ask for a crunchy salad and some guy starts shouting out the back window “HEY JOEY, PICK ME TWO BUNCHES OF KALE, AND SOMEONE SHAKE THAT ALMOND TREE, STAT!” And they want that to happen from New Years to Christmas, with maybe a few squash-based dishes thrown in around Autumn.
Americans have been duped, and the restaurant industry is in the unenviable position of having to build its business around the lie that food is best for us and the environment when the time between picking and plating is as short as possible. Everyone who actually works in this industry knows that is just not true. A sustainable food system is one that works within the constraints of growing seasons, perishability, and changing tastes by preserving food that won’t be used right away.
Lucky for us, the New York Times just basically put a stamp of approval on a practice that, let’s be honest, doesn’t need the New York Times’ approval, but could sure use a little extra legitimacy among foodie types. The controversial process they are giving the thumbs up? Freezing food.
Somehow consumers have collectively decided that any form of preservation is bad, and labels on everything from coconut water to t-bones flaunt “Never Frozen” as if the process of making food very, very cold were akin to dragging it through the Port-A-Potty at a Metallica concert. Guess what dining public? Not only is freezing ingredients good for food and the environment, but your favorite restaurant may already be doing it, and you probably never knew the difference!
So, shout it from the rooftops, food industry friends. You can freeze things and still serve them “fresh”. In fact, if we want to cut food waste and do right by seasonal growing strategies, it just may be the best thing you can do. Here’s the link to make your case. Tweet it from the rooftops: