Six courses with a story to tell...

MENU

The Sustainable Gastronomy menu is a collaboration between Ted Nordhaus, the founder of the Breakthrough Institute and a leading global thinker on food, energy, and the environment, and Alex Tishman, executive chef for Big City Chefs.

 

Featured products include apples that don’t brown, fish farmed in novel systems and sustainably raised feedlot meat, wine produced without grapes, precision-grown high-yield rice and, yes, the lowly supermarket tomato. Each has a story to tell, about sustainability and the culinary qualities that high tech, high productivity products offer chefs and diners.

FEATURED INGREDIENTS

Non-Browning Apples


Each year nearly one third of global food production and a similar proportion of U.S. food is never eaten. Wasted food generates about 9% of global greenhouse gas emissions, in part due to methane emissions from decomposing food. Additionally, up to one-fifth of the world’s fertilizer, freshwater and cropland use is used for food that is wasted or otherwise lost. Consumers throw out up to 25% of apples, the most widely eaten fruit in the U.S., often for aesthetic reasons, and up to 40% of apples may be lost throughout the entire supply chain, mostly due to bruising and browning. The Sustainable Gastronomy dinner features the Golden Arctic Apple, a variety of Golden Delicious that browns and bruises less. The apple was originally developed through biotechnology by a small Canadian company, Okanagan Specialty Fruits. Using a technique called RNA interference, or gene silencing, they reduced the activity of the enzyme in the apple that leads to browning. By eliminating superficial bruising and browning, the Arctic Apple holds the potential to dramatically reduce consumer food waste once it enters the market this year.





 

California Rice


Rice is one of the most widely grown crops in the world. It provides nearly one-fifth of calories worldwide and is planted on over 350 million acres worldwide and three million acres in the U.S. Since rice production emits methane, a potent greenhouse gas, it contributes disproportionately to climate change, emitting nearly 50% of global cropland greenhouse gas emissions. It also requires more water than most other commodity crops, exacerbating water scarcity in some areas. The environmental impact per unit of rice production is influenced by its yields, geographic conditions, as well as the technologies used in production. Studies in multiple countries ( China, Spain, Brazil and elsewhere) have found that organic rice production emits a similar or higher amount of greenhouse gas emissions per unit of rice compared to conventional production. This is largely because conventional production has higher yields, and so the methane emissions are spread across a greater amount of food. The Sustainable Gastronomy dinner highlights conventionally grown California rice. Typical California rice production involves plowing and laser-leveling the land, injecting nitrogen fertilizer into the soil, flooding the field, and planting seeds and applying pesticides by airplane. This use of sophisticated technology may appear energy intensive. Yet by efficiently using inputs and increasing yields – as much as 68% higher than organic production – the carbon footprint of conventional California rice is lower than in most parts of the world. Additionally, there is a state program to incentivize growers to adopt practices that further reduce their emissions. One trade-off is that California growers must heavily irrigate rice. Yet it is a surprisingly water-efficient crop. Although rice uses more water per acre than many other crops, it produces more calories per unit of water than many of California’s other top crops. This is partially due to the laser-leveling, which minimizes water losses, as well as the high yields and calorie-density of rice.





 

Grain-Fed Beef


Total US beef consumption is higher than in any other country, with Americans buying over 50 lbs of beef per person each year. Beef has a disproportionately large environmental impact with a higher per pound carbon, land, and water footprint than pork, chicken and other widely consumed foods. Pasture for cattle grazing takes up over 400 million acres in the US and covers a quarter of the world’s land area. Each pound of beef production is also responsible for more eutrophication and acidification (measures of water and air pollution) than other food sources Grain-finished beef production, where cattle are raised on both pasture and feedlot, generally requires substantially less land and water, and generates less greenhouse gas emissions per unit of meat than grass-finished beef, where cattle are only raised on pasture. This is partially because feedlots concentrate cattle in less space and bring them to a higher slaughter weight more quickly, in part through the use of specially formulated feeds. The Sustainable Gastronomy dinner features grain-finished beef from Flannery Beef. They source their Prime California beef from a JBS processing plant. Although the ultimate source of the beef is not fully traceable, the cattle are raised conventionally. They are on pasture for about one year, where they graze, occasionally in a rotational grazing program. They are then transferred to feedlots, for several months. Here they are fed flaked corn, often delivered from the Midwest by train, mixed with other feed grains such as alfalfa hay, vitamins, and, in many cases, antibiotics that help prevent liver abscesses and fight off particular rumen bacteria. Overall, the cattle are fattened more quickly and to a higher slaughter weight – 1,200 to 1,400 pounds – than grass-finished cattle. Feedlots also have mixed results regarding water and air pollution. The concentration of cattle and manure can result in the the pollution of water above accepted levels or in the overapplication of manure on land. However, they also contribute up to half as much less to eutrophication and acidification – measures of water and air pollution – per pound of meat produced than pasture systems. This is because grass-fed systems have more difficulty managing the leaching, runoff and other pollution from manure, and also contribute to soil erosion. Additionally, feedlots can minimize emissions from manure by converting it to energy with an aerobic manure digester, although this technology is not yet widely adopted.





Grain-Fed Beef


Total US beef consumption is higher than in any other country, with Americans buying over 50 lbs of beef per person each year. Beef has a disproportionately large environmental impact with a higher per pound carbon, land, and water footprint than pork, chicken and other widely consumed foods. Pasture for cattle grazing takes up over 400 million acres in the US and covers a quarter of the world’s land area. Each pound of beef production is also responsible for more eutrophication and acidification (measures of water and air pollution) than other food sources Grain-finished beef production, where cattle are raised on both pasture and feedlot, generally requires substantially less land and water, and generates less greenhouse gas emissions per unit of meat than grass-finished beef, where cattle are only raised on pasture. This is partially because feedlots concentrate cattle in less space and bring them to a higher slaughter weight more quickly, in part through the use of specially formulated feeds. The Sustainable Gastronomy dinner features grain-finished beef from Flannery Beef. They source their Prime California beef from a JBS processing plant. Although the ultimate source of the beef is not fully traceable, the cattle are raised conventionally. They are on pasture for about one year, where they graze, occasionally in a rotational grazing program. They are then transferred to feedlots, for several months. Here they are fed flaked corn, often delivered from the Midwest by train, mixed with other feed grains such as alfalfa hay, vitamins, and, in many cases, antibiotics that help prevent liver abscesses and fight off particular rumen bacteria. Overall, the cattle are fattened more quickly and to a higher slaughter weight – 1,200 to 1,400 pounds – than grass-finished cattle. Feedlots also have mixed results regarding water and air pollution. The concentration of cattle and manure can result in the the pollution of water above accepted levels or in the overapplication of manure on land. However, they also contribute up to half as much less to eutrophication and acidification – measures of water and air pollution – per pound of meat produced than pasture systems. This is because grass-fed systems have more difficulty managing the leaching, runoff and other pollution from manure, and also contribute to soil erosion. Additionally, feedlots can minimize emissions from manure by converting it to energy with an aerobic manure digester, although this technology is not yet widely adopted.





 

Grain-Fed Beef


Total US beef consumption is higher than in any other country, with Americans buying over 50 lbs of beef per person each year. Beef has a disproportionately large environmental impact with a higher per pound carbon, land, and water footprint than pork, chicken and other widely consumed foods. Pasture for cattle grazing takes up over 400 million acres in the US and covers a quarter of the world’s land area. Each pound of beef production is also responsible for more eutrophication and acidification (measures of water and air pollution) than other food sources Grain-finished beef production, where cattle are raised on both pasture and feedlot, generally requires substantially less land and water, and generates less greenhouse gas emissions per unit of meat than grass-finished beef, where cattle are only raised on pasture. This is partially because feedlots concentrate cattle in less space and bring them to a higher slaughter weight more quickly, in part through the use of specially formulated feeds. The Sustainable Gastronomy dinner features grain-finished beef from Flannery Beef. They source their Prime California beef from a JBS processing plant. Although the ultimate source of the beef is not fully traceable, the cattle are raised conventionally. They are on pasture for about one year, where they graze, occasionally in a rotational grazing program. They are then transferred to feedlots, for several months. Here they are fed flaked corn, often delivered from the Midwest by train, mixed with other feed grains such as alfalfa hay, vitamins, and, in many cases, antibiotics that help prevent liver abscesses and fight off particular rumen bacteria. Overall, the cattle are fattened more quickly and to a higher slaughter weight – 1,200 to 1,400 pounds – than grass-finished cattle. Feedlots also have mixed results regarding water and air pollution. The concentration of cattle and manure can result in the the pollution of water above accepted levels or in the overapplication of manure on land. However, they also contribute up to half as much less to eutrophication and acidification – measures of water and air pollution – per pound of meat produced than pasture systems. This is because grass-fed systems have more difficulty managing the leaching, runoff and other pollution from manure, and also contribute to soil erosion. Additionally, feedlots can minimize emissions from manure by converting it to energy with an aerobic manure digester, although this technology is not yet widely adopted.





 
 

Farmed Shrimp


Since the early 1990s, the average amount of shrimp Americans eat annually has doubled to four pounds per person, making it the most popular seafood in the country. As much as 90 percent is farmed overseas, imported and tied up in a web of environmental, labor and health risks. These include bycatch of endangered or threatened fish species, marine and coastal ecosystem degradation and destruction, a large carbon footprint, human rights abuses in labor, and the use of chemicals that may harm human health. Conventional shrimp fishing involves using trawling nets that scrape the bottom of the ocean catching shrimp and a host of other species – often as much as six pounds of other species per pound of shrimp. Most shrimp aquaculture is semi-intensive, containing and feeding shrimp in bodies of water such as along the coast or in ponds that are integrated with the natural environment. A smaller portion is intensive, creating a self-contained environment, such as a concrete tank or plastic-lined pond, where shrimp are fed only external feeds. For instance, Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS) involve raising shrimp in indoor tanks where the water is continually being treated and recycled. Overall, shrimp farmed in ponds in the U.S., South or Central America, and shrimp farmed indoors in RAS tanks are rated most highly by Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program. These types of aquaculture systems eliminate the high rates of bycatch and overfishing that result from trawling, and minimize the ecosystem degradation and water pollution often associated with aquaculture. Yet some of them, RAS in particular, often require greater energy use. This highlights the linkages between the food and energy sectors, and the need for additional investment in clean energy. The Sustainable Gastronomy dinner features shrimp farmed in ponds in Kauai, HI. The shrimp farm receives much of its electricity from a hydroelectric plant. Additionally, recent investments in grid-scale battery storage have enabled Kauai to generate nearly 50% of its energy from clean sources. This ensures that each step of shrimp production and processing has minimal greenhouse gas emissions.





 

California Rice


Rice is one of the most widely grown crops in the world. It provides nearly one-fifth of calories worldwide and is planted on over 350 million acres worldwide and three million acres in the U.S. Since rice production emits methane, a potent greenhouse gas, it contributes disproportionately to climate change, emitting nearly 50% of global cropland greenhouse gas emissions. It also requires more water than most other commodity crops, exacerbating water scarcity in some areas. The environmental impact per unit of rice production is influenced by its yields, geographic conditions, as well as the technologies used in production. Studies in multiple countries ( China, Spain, Brazil and elsewhere) have found that organic rice production emits a similar or higher amount of greenhouse gas emissions per unit of rice compared to conventional production. This is largely because conventional production has higher yields, and so the methane emissions are spread across a greater amount of food. The Sustainable Gastronomy dinner highlights conventionally grown California rice. Typical California rice production involves plowing and laser-leveling the land, injecting nitrogen fertilizer into the soil, flooding the field, and planting seeds and applying pesticides by airplane. This use of sophisticated technology may appear energy intensive. Yet by efficiently using inputs and increasing yields – as much as 68% higher than organic production – the carbon footprint of conventional California rice is lower than in most parts of the world. Additionally, there is a state program to incentivize growers to adopt practices that further reduce their emissions. One trade-off is that California growers must heavily irrigate rice. Yet it is a surprisingly water-efficient crop. Although rice uses more water per acre than many other crops, it produces more calories per unit of water than many of California’s other top crops. This is partially due to the laser-leveling, which minimizes water losses, as well as the high yields and calorie-density of rice.





 

Non-Browning Apples


Each year nearly one third of global food production and a similar proportion of U.S. food is never eaten. Wasted food generates about 9% of global greenhouse gas emissions, in part due to methane emissions from decomposing food. Additionally, up to one-fifth of the world’s fertilizer, freshwater and cropland use is used for food that is wasted or otherwise lost. Consumers throw out up to 25% of apples, the most widely eaten fruit in the U.S., often for aesthetic reasons, and up to 40% of apples may be lost throughout the entire supply chain, mostly due to bruising and browning. The Sustainable Gastronomy dinner features the Golden Arctic Apple, a variety of Golden Delicious that browns and bruises less. The apple was originally developed through biotechnology by a small Canadian company, Okanagan Specialty Fruits. Using a technique called RNA interference, or gene silencing, they reduced the activity of the enzyme in the apple that leads to browning. By eliminating superficial bruising and browning, the Arctic Apple holds the potential to dramatically reduce consumer food waste once it enters the market this year.





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