Barlow, who studied philosophy at Vanderbilt before getting his chef degree at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., just published a book, four years in the making. It's called Chefs Can Save the World: How To Green Restaurants and Why They Are the Key to Renewing the Food System (287 pp., $15.99).
The self-published book is available at Tayst, Sloco and Parnassus Books (and you can buy the digital version at Amazon and Barnes and Noble's site). Parnassus is hosting a discussion led by Barlow this Wednesday, March 14, at 6:30 p.m. He'll talk about our current food system and what can be done to set it on a better course, and also sign copies of his book.
In it he makes a persuasive argument that simple changes at America's restaurants could be surprisingly influential in many ways.
"Look at how intrinisically connected the food system is with everything in society from health issues and health costs, to national debt, to economics and job growth, to national security. The list goes on and on about what it affects," Barlow says.
"In our country we spent $1.2 trillion on food in 2010, and according to the National Restaurant Association, diners eat 50 percent of their meals outside the house," he adds.
"How much play do we [chefs] have? A lot. We’re controlling half the dollars. We could make a big difference quickly, and we could effect food system change that’s long-lasting. When you change the food system you automatically affect all these other issues."
Barlow's original intention was something like a how-to guide for green restaurants. But somewhere along the way, what with all the research he did for the restaurant and becoming a dad, he started thinking and writing about the big picture. He's also a volunteer, working to improve school lunches and belongs to a number of groups like the Nashville Food Policy Council.
When he speaks about the environment, he gets passionate and persuasive, so Wednesday's discussion at Parnassus should be lively and edifying. Read my full story here.