James Beard Foundation Launches Sustainability Initiative

urban farms child nutrition  james beard awards photo

Photo: David Barrie

You won't find a chef in this country that doesn't hope that one day they will get the honor of a James Beard Award. It's the Emmys of chefdom and as an avid gastronomical enthusiast you can't help but to look for the award on the wall of your favorite high-end eatery. Most recently, the folks over at the James Beard Foundation have designed an award honoring our most responsible culinary innovators. For the first time, the James Beard Foundation will be handing out its Leadership Awards to all those food minds that are looking beyond the plate to creating a better world with the work they're doing. The award, which will commence in 2011, has a number of criteria according to a report on EcoCentric including:

  • Efforts to improve the nutrition of young people and end childhood obesity, from changes to school lunch programs to school garden initiatives

  • Initiatives that promote culinary literacy and more informed food choices

  • Communications, advocacy and policy change on behalf of healthier food choices and more sustainable food systems

  • Actions that bring urban families and rural farm communities closer together, from expanding farmers' markets and farm-restaurant connections to community supported agriculture

  • Academic research to advance our understanding of health and wellness and sustainable agriculture and fisheries

  • Improvements in food safety, from agriculture to food processing, and the humane treatment of animals

  • Advancement of fair food trade practices

This is a big step for the foundation and it shows that an industry that's always chosen local, sustainable foods, because in the words of offal chef great Chris Cosentino, "it just makes sense," is now being responsible for the sake of being responsible. Eating is the one thing that we all have to do and how we choose to do it has a big impact on society. It all started with the Slow Food Movement and then more and more eyes started to open. Cheers to the James Beard Foundation for recognizing leaders in an industry that's moving forward and slowing us down all at the same time.

More on Chefs:
10 Master Chefs Driving the Green Food Movement (Slideshow)
Gramercy Tavern's Chef Mike Anthony Talks Truffles, Tomatoes, and the Real Cost of Food
Ted Turner's Green Restaurant Revolution--His Top Ten Ways to Green The Restaurant Industry

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