How Chefs Are Saving Us From The Next Potato Famine
At fast-casual restaurants like Tender Greens and Teranga, chefs are introducing unfamiliar foods to customers in an effort to diversify our limited food supply. Food security is at stake.
It may seem like our diets are quite varied—in a single day we can eat mangos, Fruit Loops, chicken legs, and Oreos. But when you break it down, about 75% of our food comes from just 12 plants and five animals, according to a report from the World Wide Fund for Nature and Knorr foods, released earlier this year. When it comes to plant-based calories, almost 60% come from just three crops—corn, wheat, and rice.
Our limited food sources pose a big food security problem. Consider the potato famine. It devastated Ireland in the mid-1800s because the Irish relied so heavily on a single crop. When a blight swept across the country, causing widespread potato crop failure, people starved.
Globally today, we may not be at potato famine level risk, but according to Food Forever, an organization that advocates for sustainable food systems, humans currently rely on only 1% of available crops worldwide. While people consume wheat, soybeans, and maize in large quantities, foods like teff, amaranth, fonio, and paw paw hardly make it to the table. That’s where chefs come in.