June 24th, 2011
11:00 AM ET
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Before you take your next bite, restaurateur, chef and Top Chef Masters alum Traci Des Jardins wants you to ask yourself a few questions.

1. What is the environmental footprint of your food?
2. Where did it come from?
3. How was it produced?
4. How did it travel to where you are?

Staying connected to your food is crucial, says Des Jardins. People need to take responsibility for the creatures they consume and the impact their food choices make on the environment. And, she cautions young chefs, despite what you see on television, it's not all glitz, glamour and rock star treatment when you get hired in a kitchen; it's brutally hard work.

In the video, Des Jardins poses the question - if you had to kill the meat you eat, would you make different choices? We're curious to hear what you think and may share your answers in a future post.

Previously - Chefs with Issues: Five sustainable lessons from a family farm

soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. crazy logic

    The argument that you should only eat the meat you kill is kind of crazy. Most people do not have the training or experience to correctly prepare a whole carcass into meat without putting the consumer(s) at risk – self, family, neighbors – or to identify the carcasses that should be condemned.

    The point of specialization in our society is that one expert working for 10 hours is more efficient than 10 novices working for one hour. If you want people to grow/raise/harvest/prepare all their own food, why stop there??? Let's have them teach their own children and provide medical care, police security, meet energy needs, entertainment, etc. Life is more enjoyable now because I don't HAVE to kill my own food if I'm willing to pay someone to do it for me.

    June 26, 2011 at 11:17 pm |
  2. Noxious Sunshine

    @ ryan: thats crazy! In my neck of the woods mill is more expensive @ gas station...

    Lol my fiancee eats tripa (intestine). He tries to sneak it into my tacos, but I always find it. He'll also eat the heart, tongue, stomach, etc.. From a cow. Pig – dofferent story... He likes piclled pig ears and such...

    June 26, 2011 at 10:09 am |
  3. Amado villanueva

    I once saw a Cow being slattered: wow it was still alive while it was being butcheed: can you imagine the adreline going through its body ; an electric shock doesnt do it: Next a Pig throwen in to a tank of scalding hot water to remove its hair wow. slowly but surley ive cut my consumption about ninety percent: Fruit nuts beans vegetables. education about what you eat will save your life: Note take good care of your body, better then you take care of your Car. what a great place to live America

    June 25, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
  4. Noxious Sunshine

    @ ryan; shouldnt the milk have come from walmart or meijer as well? Everyone knows gas station groceries cost way more lol.

    Anywho, like others say: knife, fork, stomach.

    My fiancee owns a small working ranch in Mexico with hos dad & grandfather, no parts of any animal get wasted really as there's a way to cook everything. Sometimes his mom will send ip spme freshly made queso fresco via traveling relatives.

    June 25, 2011 at 2:29 am |
    • Ryan in Michigan

      @Noxious Sunshine – Actually, in our area the gas stations are generally cheaper. Walmart wants $2.48-$3.29 per gallon, Meijer is normally about 20 cents higher, whereas there's normally a gas station in town (it changes every month or two) that runs a special for less. Right now it's the Next Door Store station, which is selling milk for $1.99 per gallon. Before that, it was the Marathon station, which was selling milk (just the 2% though) for $2.29 per gallon.
      Also, I agree on not wasting animal parts. My parents lived in Arizona for several years, and my father brought back a great love for chorizo. When we tried to find it here in Michigan, he complained that it wasn't real chorizo because they were using prime meat and not "leftovers" from the butcher. My family hunts, and we use almost everything from every animal. The exceptions are eyeballs, intenstines, lungs, and sexual organs – nobody seems to want them. We use all meat, the fat, the skins and furs, the bones (for the dogs), the heart, kidneys, liver, brain, and other internal organs, much of which gets ground up for burger.

      June 25, 2011 at 9:56 am |
  5. Chandy

    Another elitist food snob this chef. I am wondering how many starving people can be fed with regular food for one meal this chef charges

    June 24, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
    • Kaiviertel

      Actually, she is someone trying to use her status as a celebrity chef to do something useful by shining a light on a topic that can make an impact in the world. Can you say the same? What have you done lately that can ACTUALLY make a difference? Stop complaining and do something! If not, you haven't earned the right to complain.

      June 25, 2011 at 5:27 am |
      • hahafunnyguy

        what have you to make a difference?

        June 26, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • Wayne

      The position of all losers is to attack the successful.

      June 25, 2011 at 9:02 am |
  6. Practical is as practical does

    I have a connection with my food... a knife and fork. Works great.

    June 24, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
  7. The 3rd Degree

    "4. How did it travel to where you are?" Ask it when it gets there.

    "Did you fly? First class? How much luggage did you check? Oh – you didn't have a credit card so you came by tractor trailer. How did that work out?"

    June 24, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
  8. Ryan in Michigan

    By the time I figure out where each and every item in my food comes from, consider its' environmental impact, and decide who made it, it'll have gone cold and I'll have to consider whether the stove or the oven makes less environmental impact, where it comes from, who made it, and by then I'll have lost my appetite and thrown out the food, which will have spoiled, which will make more garbage, which will be more of an environmental impact than if I had just sat down and eaten the food in the first place. I think I'll just stick with "Gee, the fish sticks and Miracle Whip came from Walmart, the milk from the gas station down the road, and the potato wedges and Green Goddess dressing, dip, or whatever, from Meijer." There, problem solved, now I can eat while it's still hot!

    June 24, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
    • Kristin

      You do not have to spend hours doing research. Start by checking out the produce labels as you buy and pick up the apples from Washington instead of the ones from New Zealand. Grow herbs in your own house or garden instead of buying the fresh ones at the store – the prices are so high because they are generally flown from somewhere. Buy from your local farmer's market instead of the grocery store when you can. Every one of these little decisions can make a difference.

      June 25, 2011 at 8:33 am |
      • Ryan in Michigan

        @Kristin – My family has tried that, to a degree, in the past. You're right about the prices being high – all organic food is about three to five times the price of the store produce, which we are already skimping on due to prices (one of the many reasons my family hunts is we can't afford not to – a 25 cent bullet fired from a fifty-year-old, hand-me-down rifle nets far more food than a $2.50 bag of apples). The one exception is a small farmer's market up the road from our house. They're actually cheaper for fresh produce than the stores, but it depends upon what's in season and is also due to the fact that they use machinery and pesticides just like the big farms that supply the stores, but they don't have to pay for shipping and storage or a third party seller.

        June 25, 2011 at 10:06 am |
      • Heather in SoCal

        You must live in a large urban area; I have to drive 15+ miles to a farmer's market, there's nothing in my desert town. What's the environmental impact of that? Does it negate what I purchased? Plus it's assumed that you are somewhat affluent (or at least not using food stamps/EBT) because organic produce is often more expensive. Your food purchases often reflect your socio-economic status.

        So yes, I do buy organics when I can. But I also have a responsibility to feed my family AND balance my checkbook, because we're not rich. I weed out the processed food wherever I can, too, because it's better for my body. But I"m certainly not going to completely guilt myself out of a meal, because I'm thankful to have food in the first place.

        June 25, 2011 at 10:08 am |
  9. hahahfunnyguy

    Take care of the overeating first. Too many Americans already connect with their food way to often. It's called obesity.

    June 24, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
  10. Megan

    For lunch I ate tomato zucchini fritters with a cashew cucumber dip. Both fritters and dip were homemade. All of the produce used – zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, garlic, basil, onion – came from an organic farm located in my city. The bread crumbs were homemade by me from scraps of bread that I buy from a local bakery. The only ingredients used that did not come from a local source were walnuts in the fritters and the cashews in the dip. Both were organic though.

    This is normal eating for me.

    June 24, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
    • JIm

      You are overweight most likely because you are eating too many nuts and dips. Try eating more lean protein and fruits, and be more active. You can feel better about it, though, because the rolls of fat around your mid-section are organic.

      June 24, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
      • Megan

        One meal and you assume you know I eat nuts and dips a lot? When I said this is normal eating for me, I was referring to the local and organic nature of my food... not the actual specific dish I'm eating. I'm not overweight... I've actually lost 100 pounds in the past three years thanks to a major diet overhaul. How about them apples..

        June 24, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
      • Barno

        this is some more hipster BS!! what about the footprint your expensive car leaves behind you cock?!! bet i could make you cry ya losin' snot........ok,..i'm calm now,...totally agree with mister jim here....

        June 24, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • rAED

      Sounds yummy!

      June 26, 2011 at 1:23 am |
  11. Meg

    Thank you for writing this article, while brief, it does bring up good points. We do need to be more connected with our food. Not only is it something that is going into our bodies (and affects our hair, skin, health and mood), it also affects other people, animals and the environment. It has a much larger impact than most people realize.

    Case in point: meat production is arguably the #1 contributor of green house gases, and most of the land used to grow crops is in fact used to feed the animals that most people consume. Not to mention the waste from producing meat, etc. It is absolutely horrible for the environment and it affects us all whether we realize it or not. The world could easily be fed if we would be smarter with our food choices and grow/produce food that is more efficient and healthy for us.

    June 24, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
  12. marilyn

    Stay connected with my food? I am not going to complete a full questionnaire just to eat a meal. This chef is ridiculous – How about figuring out how to feed all the hungry people in the world instead of worrying about this nonsense??

    June 24, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • Kaiviertel

      Well Marilyn, if you have ever in your life uttered the words "reduce, reuse and recycle" than following the food is one of the best ways to contribute to a better world. Agricultural pesticide and waste runoff is one of the biggest contaminators to underground water reserves, the US dependency on foreign oil could be reduced by one FIFTH if we ate local food, not food from California when we live in New York and Big Ag IS one of the reasons we cannot feed the world due to their oppressive seed patents and exploitative market control of third world countries. Do me a favor and read a book or two before commenting on something you know nothing about.

      June 25, 2011 at 5:23 am |
      • RadioPirate

        God–in whatever way, shape, or form you imagine said deity–bless you, Kaiviertel.

        June 26, 2011 at 1:37 am |
      • hahafunnyguy

        shut up.

        June 26, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
  13. carloooos

    Seriously dude? The only connnection I want with my food is in my stomache.

    June 24, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • Matt

      I'm there with ya.

      June 24, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • Denim

      I hear that. I take responsibility for the creatures I consume. I just prefer to do it by proxy.

      June 24, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
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