Meals as Message

A barbecued vegetable platter, top, with kale rib and carrot “brisket.” Beluga lentils, black rice and chimichurri broth, left, and a side of crisped smoked beef from Stemple Creek Ranch. Credit Preston Gannaway for The New York Times

Although not quite an example of “Model Mad“, this culinary entrepreneurial activism sends a message to both consumers and food industry colleagues alike.

San Francisco Chefs Serve Up a Message About Climate Change

Karen Leibowitz and Anthony Myint opened the Perennial in San Francisco last year with a clear mission in mind: Run an environmentally friendly restaurant with a minimal carbon footprint, and inspire other restaurateurs to do the same.

As [the current administration] has questioned the existence of climate change, Ms. Leibowitz and Mr. Myint have emerged as activists, at the forefront of a growing movement of chefs who not only recognize and measure the impact of their industry on the planet, but also look for new ways to undo the damage.

Mr. Myint and Ms. Leibowitz, who are married, have been immersed for the last few years in the research that directs every decision at the restaurant, like choosing the kitchen’s energy-efficient equipment and its raw ingredients, many of which are grown in ways that can regenerate the soil.

In addition to the Perennial, Ms. Leibowitz and Mr. Myint founded the Perennial Farming Initiative, a nonprofit organization that aims to share their research in creative ways, and use food to fight climate change.

The Apocalypse Burger is one of Mr. Myint’s many memorable, darkly funny creations, and a look at how a chef’s politics might shape the food on his plate in unexpected ways. The burger, which Mr. Myint developed for the menu at In Situ, a restaurant inside the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, looks unfamiliar at first, and out of proportion.

The bite-size patty, covered in American cheese, is concealed in a black shell that resembles a charcoal briquette.

Mr. Myint says he will reconfigure the Apocalypse Burger for the Perennial’s new menu, making it bigger and serving it on a squid-ink bun. And he will use other visual puns to make new food that’s playful, communicating his ideas deliciously, without scolding anyone….

…At the Drawdown Getdown, an event focused on climate education in San Francisco on Sept. 24, Ms. Leibowitz and Mr. Myint plan to join the author Paul Hawken to discuss how food choices can make a positive impact on the environment. They will install interactive exhibits, like a large scale with weighted cubes that represent ingredients and their relative carbon footprints, and a compost exhibit squirming with worms.

Read the entire article here.

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