A Radically Different Way of Farming that Improves the Environment

After the disheartening look at the state of farming in King Corn I luckily found the opposite end of the spectrum in Chef Dan Barber’s TED talk How I Feel In Love With a Fish.  In this talk he discusses  his journey to find sustainable fish to serve on the menu.  He presents a real example from Spain of how to sustainably raise fish that not only generates healthy & tasty food, but also enhances the ecological system naturally.

Acquiring sustainably produced and delicious fish is a dilemma today faced by professional and home chefs alike.   We have over fished the seas causing the collapse of 90% of the large fish populations we love to eat like tuna.  The first “sustainable” fish farm’s choice of sustainable protein fish food turned out to be chicken parts.  Even though this fish farm practices many sustainable practices, it doesn’t hold a candle to the second sustainable fish farm that Dan found in Spain.  Not only is this fish farm sustainable but it is actually repairing the environmental damage caused by the previous land owners who used it to raise cattle. 

One of my favorite quotes from the talk is how Miguel describes their secret to success.

We farm extensively, not intensively.

The video is well worth the 20 minutes listening to Dan talk as it shed light on the “sustainable” fish farming practices and provides a shining example of how we can be successful raising food and beneficial to the world around us.   Not to mention, Dan is funny throughout.

So sit back and enjoy the show and please share your thoughts in the comments.

Happy Greening!

p.s. you can get an interactive transcript of the talk at the link above.

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  1. I’m curious now – I just watched that talk recently, and I’ve watched Dan Barber’s *other* TED talk, about a similar prospect for foie gras twice and told a lot of people about it. (It has a bit more of a foodie bent but is just as awe inspiring about how they have turned an awful industrial food process into one in which the animals gorge themselves because they want to, and then the foie gras tastes amazing.)

    I liked the first talk a lot better! Both in terms of the speaking, and because the 2nd one got me thinking a lot more about how much impact one large farm can have on our whole world’s food supply – even if you did this *everywhere*, which would require a lot of farmers with perfect locations who are willing to think like Miguel – fish would still be a whole lot less plentiful than we have raised demand levels to at this point. How much fish would you really be able to supply this way?

    With foie gras it was not quite so much of a big question because even though I can’t imagine large numbers of farmers deciding to raise foie gras poultry the same way, foie gras isn’t consumed in very large quantities to begin with. I remember seeing this video, wishing I could taste that sustainable foie gras, and knowing it was way out of my reach – but that’s OK because having foie gras more than once a decade is pretty much out of my reach to begin with. It’s a high end crazy ingredient fancy chefs use, not something I’m trying to eat a few times a month.

    Have you seen the foie gras video? What did you think?

  2. I have not seen his other videos, but based on your description looking forward to watching them. Not a fan of foie gras myself, so I definitely understand your point on scalability.

    I agree it will take a huge shift in our thinking about farming to be in collaboration with the environment and ecology around it, rather than fighting it with pesticides and herbicides.

    I’m encouraged to find examples of this working and even working better in that they produce higher quality (taste and nutrition) foods.

    Thanks for the comments and telling me about his other talks!

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