The business of Feeding the PlanetBy Chit U. Juan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Seven billion people. Only 60 percent of farm produce goes to feeding people, while 30 percent of agricultural produce goes to feeding animals. What if we increased what went straight to people’s tummies instead of growing what would just be animal feed?
In 30-40 years there will be a shortage of food. Who will feed the planet? These are some of the questions Chef Rick Moonen asked the audience during our Feed The Planet forum held recently during the World Food Expo or Wofex.
The panelists represented big hotels like Sofitel with Regional Executive Chef Eric Costille sharing the Planet 21 program of Sofitel Global. Sofitel believes in knowing their suppliers, buying fair trade, and having a Sustainability Officer in all their properties, among many other initiatives.
Big resorts like Disneyland were represented by Chef Alan Orreal who shared with the crowd the sustainability practices of the Disney Group. Imagine food waste going to compost, meat waste from diner’s plates being incinerated to produce water! And these products from waste produce the water that cleans their parks. Beautiful!
Chef See of Enderun’s Ducasse Institute shared with us how they are adapting the French culinary icon Paul Ducasse’s recipes to local supply of ingredients such as Bisugo and Galunggong—fish which we think are just for the “everyman” class of society. Enderun students are taught to think of planning sustainable menus around local produce and local fish.
Chef Joanne Limoanco-Gendrano of Unilever Food Solutions is adopting Unilever Global’s directives to use locally-sourced ingredients and to help small producers access their supply chains for as long as these producers are sustainable.
And Ragnar Fredriksson, the General Manager of World Association of Chefs Societies(WACS)—the “United Nations of Chefs” as Ragnar put it, got this panel together through referrals and appropriately also invited Senator Bam Aquino to open the event. Senator Bam was spot on in identifying five points to help “feed” the planet. His notes:
1. Buy Local. This is the best way to help farmers have sustainable businesses.
2. Employ Local. Culinary graduates can get employed in the many food establishments going up everyday.
3. Get to know your supply chain. Source your needs from local communities.
4. Get involved in government- feeding programs.
5. Educate your patrons. Teach them what sustainable eating means. Offer them locally-sourced food so there is less carbon footprint and less damage to the planet.
What an enriching experience to hear culinary celebrities (these panelists are TV stars in their own right) agree with the senator’s points and it was heartening to hear a young senator speak from the heart and finally end his speech with a slide stating his facebook, twitter and Instagram accounts. This is how the young speak to the young and the not-so-young. Clear. Succinct. Direct to the point. And not some “ghost-written” patronizing speech filled with motherhood statements we often hear from politicians rushing from one program to the next ribbon cutting event.
Chef Rick Moonen, the Chair of the Feed the Planet Program worldwide, is of course the Sustainable Seafood guru. He operates a seafood restaurant in Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas USA. But he was here specifically to engage other chefs to adopt the Feed The Planet Declaration, where each one pledges to save the planet and ensure sufficient food supply through the culinary craft or industry. Each chef, hotel owner, restaurant owner must understand the principles espoused by Feed The Planet so we can all continue to cook, feed our customers and ensure we have enough food for everyone till kingdom come.
I was the only entrepreneur in the panel and I was asked to share what we do in ECHOstore, pioneering the sustainable lifestyle retail idea almost five years ago already, when no one dared to do it. We also pioneered Le Bistro Vert in 2010, the first sustainable restaurant concept in Metro Manila. We continue to communicate the idea of sustainability through our customers who become our brand ambassadors as well. Start small. Dream big. Someday it will happen.
Despite the dwindling (by the hour) modest crowd we had at the forum, we hope that we had connected with the food service professionals who managed to attend. We also hope that media and the organizers were able to capture the nice exchange of ideas on tape (or whatever medium they now use like digital recorders) and that this forum can be shown to students, teachers and most specially to cost controllers and management of hotels and restaurants.
Feed the planet. Each one of us can play a role. Start eating sustainably today.
(The author is the founder and owner of ECHOStore sustainable lifestyle, ECHOmarket sustainable farms and ECHOcafe in Serendra, Podium and Centris QC malls. She also is President of the Women’s Business Council of the Philippines and President of the Philippine Coffee Board Inc., two non-profits close to her heart. She often speaks to corporates, youth and NGOs on social entrepreneurship, women empowerment, and coffee. You can follow her on twitter.com/chitjuan or find her on facebook:Pacita “Chit” Juan. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org)