APPETITE FOR A BETTER FOOD SYSTEM: THE ROLE OF CHEFS FOR FARMERS

Over the years, the popular image of the chef as a tyrant has grown stale and a chef’s disavowal of his role and impacts on the food system has long expired. These days, any chef worth his/her salt has set their sights on a bigger dream—that of changing the world. 

And changing the world with food is no mere rhetoric—it’s possible. The food system—from how food is grown, processed, transported, distributed, and consumed—is a sprawling global system with far-reaching impacts: from the farmers’ rights and access to resources to the extreme weather changes we’re witnessing to our health and well-being and to the plastic packaging around the neck of a sea turtle. As such, changes (as well as inaction), deliberate or otherwise, are sure to have impacts. Some are just more visible than others.

The team at Gallery By Chele plating vegetables
The team at Gallery By Chele plating vegetables

Chefs have an important role in creating a better food system 

Chefs serve as traditional points of contact between the consumers and food growers/producers, exerting influence and shaping our ideas and habits around food and our consumption of it. For instance, the now-popular concept and movement we know as farm-to-fork/farm-to-table and the recent growing consciousness for the connections between ecology and cuisine owe much of their currency and reach to the influence of chefs like Alice Waters and Dan Barber.

While the restaurants of top chefs might be accessible to only a few, they nonetheless remain trusted purveyors of taste. Given their social position, chefs have started to embrace their role as food activists or vocal advocates of change, so that the new thinking and practices that they bring to the table can become widespread and find their way into different corners of the world, including our own kitchens.

The decisions and actions of chefs have environmental and social benefits and repercussions as well. For instance, ingredients that chefs choose to showcase in dishes can create demand for it and have an impact on the diversity of produce being grown in farms, the production methods and agricultural inputs that will be required, and inevitably the resources the farmer needs to access to provide the ingredient. When chefs rely on farmers for safe, fresh, high-quality seasonal products, they have a chance to provide greater visibility to sustainable agricultural practices and support the local economies where the rural farms are located.

Like community-supported agriculture, chefs connect farmers and eaters in a concrete way. It is a powerful connection that we cannot take for granted as it emphasizes the collaboration and a sense of greater agency required in each of us to overhaul a system that has grown unsustainable and to create enormous change.

Where we source our vegetables

Interested in responsible sourcing? To answer the question of where Good Food’s produce is grown, we work with a number of smallholder farmers in Luzon, specifically in Bulacan, Capas and Labney in Tarlac, Daraitan, Benguet, and Bauko and Sagada in the Mountain Province. Learn more about our farmers here.

Looking for a vegetable supplier in the Philippines? Get in touch with us.

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