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National Restaurant Association - Speaker urges restaurants to recycle, use alternative energy

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Speaker urges restaurants to recycle, use alternative energy

The move toward sustainability will succeed only if the restaurant industry educates the public about food, its nutritional value and importance, panelists said last week at International Foodservice Sustainability Symposium.

The panelists said the world’s food system must be overhauled to protect against food and water shortages in the next 50 years.

“The most important thing you can do is lead a world push for people to respect food,” said Julian Cribb, author of "The Coming Famine." “We have to re-educate our entire society to value and respect food; they have become so detached and take it for granted. We must teach them how to eat for health and sustainability.”

According to Cribb, the current food system is inefficient and won’t be able to sustain the growing population; it creates too much waste and uses too much energy and water in its current state.

“Make no mistake,” he said, “our greatest challenge is going to be how to feed ourselves in peak numbers. Tonight there will be 240,000 more human beings at dinner than there were last night, and the world economy is going to keep on going. That means we’re going to see global demand for food double by the mid-2050s.”

The solution lies in changing behaviors by recycling and using alternative energy sources instead of relying on oil, he said.

“I am going to call here and now for a world war on waste,” he said. “We need a diet that treads a lot more gently on our crowded planet.” He urged chefs and restaurateurs to be leaders in the campaign to teach consumers to eat well, eat less, eat more vegetables and eat less energy-food.

Roger Beachy, director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, said the role of science and technology is crucial to sustainability’s success. “We must reframe the dialogue into science and aim for sustainability, safety and acceptance. Sustainability will enhance the ecosystem of agriculture, improving the soil, maintaining good organic matter and mineral content.”

Beachy said society must explore scientific advances such as insect-repellent crops that reduce the need for pesticides and soil improvements that combine fertilizer applications while reducing tilling.

Kassia Perpich, seafood manager, Shedd Aquarium, Chicago, said 75 percent of wild fisheries were overfished and overexploited and that overfishing was destroying the habitat and making it unsustainable.

She said the aquaculture community iwas taking the issue seriously and coming up with solutions, such as Multi-Trophic Aquaculture, where farmers raise fish and use their waste to feed other aquaculture, like shellfish, and inorganic extractive, like seaweed.

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