Saturday, May 10, 2008

Gordon Ramsay and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Publicity Stunt

"Big" news from the BBC yesterday. Gordon Ramsay, the infamous four-star chef turned (bleeping) celebrity caricature, has called for a ban on restaurant food that isn't in season or locally sourced.

From the article:

"Fruit and veg should be seasonal," he said. "Chefs should be fined if they haven't got ingredients in season on their menu.
"I don't want to see asparagus on in the middle of December. I don't want to see strawberries from Kenya in the middle of March. I want to see it home grown."

"There should be stringent laws, licensing laws, to make sure produce is only used in season and season only," he said.

"If we don't restrict our movements within this industry of seasonal-produce only, then the whole thing will spiral out of control."

Following the chef's comments, Oxfam's head of research, Duncan Green, said he was sure "the million farmers in east Africa who rely on exporting their goods to scrape a living would see Gordon Ramsay's assertions as a recipe for disaster".

Mr Green added: "He [Ramsay], like all of us, wants to tackle climate change, but it is vital that we ensure that poor people who are already hit hardest by climate change are not made to suffer even further."

Meanwhile, Terry Jones from the National Farmers Union (NFU) said that, while he agrees with the chef's complaint, legislation would be going too far.

He said: "We've almost got too much legislation in food and farming as things stand.

"Really what we need to see is that passion and that commitment to seasonality being pushed into consumer education and into this commitment on menu transparency."

And the Soil Association's Food for Life Partnership director Emma Noble said the celebrity chef was right to suggest that "seasonal menus are a key step in cutting the environmental impact of our food".

Yes, you've got a point, Chef. But is legislation really necessary? Sure, it's a great sound bite, and might even sound like a good idea to people who don't actually think about the implications of this. It might work for a Michelin-starred restaurant, but what about the Italian bistro on the corner whose customers demand a caprese salad in June? What exactly is a restaurant, anyways? Are we going to tell McDonald's to use locally-grown potatoes in their french fries? On that note, what exactly does "locally grown" mean? Does Ramsay suggest we follow the 100-mile diet, or does he plan on asking some random bureaucrat to draw arbitrary lines on a map of England denoting specific food zones? Maybe Ramsay should set an example and practice what he preaches. If he allows a single (bleeping) lemon (imported from Spain) in his restaurant or in Hell's Kitchen, he's a hypocrite. End of story.

Could this all be a publicity stunt for Hell's Kitchen? Or is he, in some twisted, convoluted way, hoping to garner interest in the Hell's Kitchen video game?

Okay, anyways. I'm at the parents' house in Greendale right now, just hanging out and checking in on things while they're in Russia. Two days before they left earlier this week, the city sewer system decided to back up into their basement (not as disgusting as it sounds, but still a mess), so I was here last weekend helping to get the basement and my dad's office cleaned up. Everything was hauled out of the office, then the carpet was torn up and the basement sanitized, and I just got done putting everything back in the office - a couple of desks, a bunch of boxes of books, etc, etc. Fun stuff.

I'm rambling, so I guess I'm done.

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