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Anthony Bourdain & Celebrity Chefs Bring Awareness to our Connection with Food

Celebrity chefs spread awareness in addition to entertaining the masses. Celebrity chefs spread awareness in addition to entertaining the masses.

 

A natural-born rebel with a love of the finer things in life. Unafraid to explore the rougher edges of the world, especially if do-ing so results in a feast of nature’s abundance. An outsider with a DIY punk rock attitude and whose freedom and success have made him the envy of his peers.

We could be talking about many of the growers that we know, but in this case, we’re discussing Emmy-nominated televi-sion host, best-selling author, world-renowned chef and globetrotting documentarian Anthony Bourdain. His hit shows No Reservations and The Layover set the standard for food programming by sending Bourdain traveling around the world to search for the best dining experiences found off the beaten path. A precursor to the foodie blog phenomenon, broadcast in HD.

But more than just sharing personality traits, there’s an inherent connection between the grower lifestyle and the cult of celebrity chefs that has taken over pop culture. It comes from a deep connection to the food chain, from the beginning (grow-ers) to the end (chefs). Heck, we suspect Bourdain would love to grow his own — if only he was home long enough to harvest a crop.

Zimmern is game to try anything that locals eat. On his shows, this can mean fried tarantulas on a stick or the infamous durian fruit, which a gagging Zimmern reported smells like dirty gym socks with the texture of cottage cheese, and flavor to match.

For now, this traveling culinarian spends his extraordinary life exploring places without cell phone service for his new CNN show, Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. The show will feature Bourdain in the most extreme and remote regions of the world, documenting different cultures and their relationships with food. Is your mouth watering yet?

BIZARRE — SUSTAINABLE — FOODS

A conscientious global citizen (whenever possible), Bourdain has always sought out locally produced foods on his global ad-ventures. This is a common theme for other celebrity chefs as well who, like Bourdain, understand the benefits and importance of choosing foods that are grown, harvested, caught, raised, hunted or manufactured locally.

It is certainly important to fellow Travel Channel host Andrew Zimmern, who is known for eating weird and wacky — but generally local — meals on his shows, Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern and Bizarre Foods America with Andrew Zimmern. Zimmern’s quirky personality and up-for-anything attitude earned him the 2010 James Beard Award (often called the “Oscars of Food”) for Outstanding TV Food Personality. Legions of fans love to watch the guy eat because he is so dang enthusiastic about foods that make most of us cringe.

Zimmern is game to try anything that locals eat. On his shows, this can mean fried tarantulas on a stick or the infamous durian fruit, which a gagging Zimmern reported smells like dirty gym socks with the texture of cottage cheese, and flavor to match.

Andrew Zimmern is not the only celebrity chef who advocates eating locally sourced foods. British health food advocate Jamie Oliver has taken a personal stake in the health and extreme obesity levels of children in the United States, the most overweight country in the world. Oliver travels the country to show simple, good-tasting recipes that can be made at home without much time, effort or money.

One of Oliver’s primary concerns is school lunches. Among lower income children, school-provided lunch is often the main source of nutrition, with their homes failing to offer reliable access to food. Oliver is so dedicated to improving the healthfulness of school lunches that in one school (Somers Middle School), he instituted a program to grow a variety of fruits, vegetables and herbs. The fresh produce augments those sometimes-frightening school lunches.

Another man who takes sustainability seriously is Rick Bayless, the world-renowned chef and self-trained rooftop horticulturist whose Frontera Grill in Chicago grows a variety of fruits and vegetables on its roof. The restaurant staff jokingly call it his “salsa bar,” but Bayless’ garden is much more than that.

MAN VERSUS GMO

Eating like a local is certainly a key to the formula of travel-based celebrity chefs, but utilizing local produce and responsible agricultural practices is a winning formula for everyone, from celebrity chef to local farmer to everyday consumer. Many of the top celebrity chefs are also concerned about the growth of the GMO industry and its impact on food in the U.S.

During the last election, more than 100 California-based celebrity chefs, including notable names like Mario Batali, Cat Cora and Jacques Pépin, signed a petition endorsing Proposition 37, the sadly failed California Right to Know Genetically Engi-neered Food Act. The bill would have required companies to label products that contain genetically altered ingredients and made the state the first in the country with GMO labeling requirements, now commonplace elsewhere in the developed world.

Celebrity chefs have a unique platform to help change the world in meaningful ways. Anthony Bourdain has a personal mission to spread awareness about how the U.S. consumes meat.

Despite having the support of so many chefs and others in the food industry, the massively funded GMO machine won this fight, throwing cash around to the tune of about $50 million to manufacture a fear-based smear campaign against the bill. Even celebrities can’t outspend Monsanto.

Though the act would not have required chefs or their restaurants to label dishes that contain GMO ingredients, many chefs were interested in the bill passing because they would be able to make more informed choices about the food that they cook. The best chefs are looking to make their meals out of the freshest, tastiest and safest products available. Buying from local business owners, whether farmers or fishermen, is the best choice for these reasons and more.

Not only are these sustainability-minded chefs helping to finance local companies and jobs, they are providing the best products to their customers and shrinking their carbon footprint in the process by not supporting companies who ship items halfway around the world. The practice of long-distance shipping is essentially outdated because new technologies are con-tinually developing to allow us to grow plants in places we once thought impossible, from freezing climates to sweltering de-serts, into the far reaches of outer space and, of course, in our own homes.

COOKING UP AWARENESS

Celebrity chefs have a unique platform to help change the world in meaningful ways. Anthony Bourdain has a personal mission to spread awareness about how the U.S. consumes meat. While he is far from vegan or vegetarian, and actually calls such practices in most situations a “first-world luxury,” Bourdain believes that not only do Americans consume too much meat, we waste it as well.

Bourdain wants to increase the popularity of so-called peasant foods, dishes that contain cuts of meat with which most Americans are probably not familiar but would likely enjoy. These are, as the name suggests, meals that have been eaten tradi-tionally by the poorer classes as the rich took the premium cuts, but are often incredibly flavorful, inventive and, most of all, more ecologically responsible.

If Americans were to consume meat in a responsible manner, meaning much less frequently, in much smaller quantities and utilizing the entire animal every time, more people could be fed with fewer animals, resulting in a significantly reduced impact on the environment. It is hard to debate the ecological argument against our current meat and dairy industries, not to mention that our insanely high obesity levels would drop right along with our carbon footprint.

Small changes, like eating less and more varied types of meat as well as buying local goods, and growing food in our yards or in community gardens, may end up healing a lot of the planet’s ills. Celebrity chefs like Anthony Bourdain are right there to push these causes off the back burners. It may sound crazy, but reality television could save the world.

© Copyright RosebudMag.com, 2013



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Anthony Bourdain talks about his new show on CNN.
Last modified on Tuesday, 21 May 2013 18:03

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