Words and Photos by Zach Kaiser
The world of food is an exciting place. It’s a world with immense tradition and heritage. At the same time, young farmers, chefs, brewers, and educators are shaping a new exciting future in food that features more flavors and more diversity than ever before. Never in our history have we had access to so many different types of beverage and food options. There are different types of food from nearly every part of the world available in the United States today. With that comes incredible opportunity, while also a need to rethink how we want to maneuver an uncertain environmental future.
These young entrepreneurs are exciting, inspiring, and unrelenting; pushing boundaries of their industry and changing how we think about flavors and processes. Almost every new food start-up these days has to answer two questions: how do we affect the environment and how do we create a sustainable future?
Young entrepreneurs are creating exciting new businesses, facing new world challenges with old approaches or with scientific integration into old world techniques. This can be seen all throughout the food industry. Brewers are using science to understand all types of beers, such as rustic styles called sour and farmhouse ales, born from some of the earliest beer recipes before yeast and bacteria were even discovered. Brewers like The Rare Barrel are even focusing their entire business plan on these beers that push boundaries and revisit the past.
Chefs, like Dan Barber from Blue Hill Restaurant at Stone Barns, are starting to challenge the question of seasonality in food and how to truly integrate local farmers into a cuisine. At the heart of this new cultural cuisine are old techniques of baking, cheese making, and butchery. At the same time, Dan is integrating flavor and quality into plant breeding. By changing the scientific narrative in food, we may see a future that encourages quality and environmental protection as the guiding principles for food production.
Organic agriculture is on the rise with a new understanding of micronutrients, genetics, and irrigation techniques. Yet, these technologies are now being integrated into old traditions of seed saving, European Iberico style farming (farming focused on the whole ecosystem), and landrace farming (or farming focused on genetic diversity). It may actually be inappropriate to say these ideas are new, but these ideas are being reshaped for the current generation and the future. The innovations in the food industry and the individuals that made them happen need to be documented.
Storytelling became one of my passions while on a boat in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay. Wes, a blue crab fisherman, works the coast of the Eastern Shore of Maryland. The Bay is his home and has been for nearly his entire life. His tight white cap matches his grayish jacket worn from mud and moisture from the Bay. Smith Island along with the adjacent islands is not only his home, but was the source of his family’s income for generations. His understanding of the area is key to providing for his family. Watching him scan the horizon moving between marshlands and scattered islands with ease was like watching a veteran chef in the kitchen. He is an artisan of the bay, who respects the place he comes from and its future.
We are going to tell stories about these people. Learning about their struggles and their achievements, while navigating how they see the future of food. The Artisan Situation tells the stories about connections and relationships. It may be about a farmer’s connection to a hill, a chef’s experience with ingredients, a fisherman’s path along a current, or a childhood memory on a boat. All of these relationships and connections relate back to one truth – that we all need food.
This website won’t be the manifesto for how to ignite environmental change or how to reinvent a more sustainable future. We will show you that connections and relationships matter. Collaborations with moral integrity make the world a better place. I hope this website brings you closer to people who have begun to rekindle their relationship to nature. I hope this website makes you feel closer to the people who produce our food. We won’t focus on our perspectives, but will focus on others who interact and produce the food we eat today. Follow my friends and me on an intimate journey into people’s lives, as they navigate the complexities of our future with food.
The food industry is incredibly complicated. Sometimes we need to take time to critically analyze issues and think about the trajectory of whole industries. Chewing the Fat is a series of stories focused on just that. Analyzing the food industry with a coherent, thoughtful, and curious voice. These stories combine forward-thinking ideas with in-depth perspective. Click here to see more