As recent events in Egypt and Somalia have shown us, nowhere are the stakes higher than in the politics of food. With a swipe of a politician's pen, the suffering of millions can be caused, but can also be alleviated. Yet considering the importance, both the coverage by the press of these complex issues and the understanding by the masses is often lacking.
However, it is voices like that of super-chef Marcus Samuelsson that, I think, are in the process of changing this globally. I have known Marcus Samuelsson for over 10 years, going back to even before he was the star chef at Aquavit (or even such a snazzy dresser). Even then, he was not just thinking about how to put great dishes on the table, but also about the role of food in the world, overall.
Photo Credit: Peter Richardson/ SPREADHOUSE
For those of you who don't know, Marcus was born in Ethiopia during a time when the destructive capabilities of food politics were quite evident. After his mother died of tuberculosis when he was three years old, he and his sister were adopted by a Swedish family where his interest in cooking was sparked by his adopted grandmother. But his interest in the global implications of food policy are an equally personal passion.
To that end, Marcus believes that there is no one better than chefs to help bring visibility to these enormously important conversations about things like food subsidies, commodity pricing and responsible farming. Other superstar chefs of our generation, like David Chang and Jamie Oliver clearly agree, often using their visibility to talk about these issues as well. To that end, Marcus has created a politics section on his www.foodrepublic.com website to not only give his view on these issues, but also to create a place to hear the views of others.
It used to be that we just looked to our great chefs for recipes and, if lucky enough, for the meal of a lifetime. But now voices like Marcus can also bring attention to the kind of issues that can save lives.