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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

When Do Sustainabilty Advocates Become Eco-Nazis?

Posted By on Wed, Sep 1, 2010 at 6:03 PM

Look delicious? You're an asshole. But still... - SIFU RENKA/FLICKR
  • Sifu Renka/Flickr
  • Look delicious? You're an asshole. But still...
Our favorite morsel from the blogs.

It's clear that Elizabeth Snyder didn't mean to paint a picture of the culture at Bon Appétit Management ― the nationally famous Palo Alto-based foodservice company committed to sustainability ― as eco-bullying, but her essay today at Civil Eats chills us like a turn in an unheated mud bath.

Snyder reports on her first week on the job at BAMCO. She describes a manager named Helene York "yelling into the phone" at the chef of some poor café somewhere ― a Bon Appétit property ― who made the blunder of putting bluefin tuna on the menu. Now, granted, bluefin is a tragedy: overfished, almost to extinction, it's a woeful choice. But Snyder describes the scene as if York were some inflexible Mother Superior tongue-whipping a sinner. Snyder:

She's making some heads roll because I found a recipe for bluefin tuna posted on one of our cafe's Web sites. It's not like every dish, on every Web site, at every cafe can be policed, seeing that we have over 400 cafes equipped with fiercely autonomous chefs. But clearly, Helene expects more from our chefs―a lot more.
At least the guy didn't get fired, Snyder points out, but, she writes, "since taking this job, I've resolved to become aware of my own shortcomings."

That's fine: Maybe a chef's pride is worth bruising if it'll save a tuna or two. But honestly, like political progressives generally, can sustainability advocates take the movement too far, to the point where it alienates those of us who want to do better but find ourselves sneaking the occasional spicy tuna roll?

Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodie. Contact me at John.Birdsall@SFWeekly.com

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