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Food Within Us: Genetically Incorrect Part III

First of all, we the chefs/culinarians are mostly misinformed or not properly informed about the ever controversial orchestrated genetically altered food war. The United States Food and Drug Administration in 1992 finally took the risky decision to approve officially the first genetically altered food product, a tomato called the Flavr Savr by Calgene, the Davis, California-based company that has produced these tomatoes for many years.

The government and the biotechnology industry have hopes of keeping a low profile until more research is done. Jeremy Rifkin, president of the group Organic Consumers Organization, has not given up to preserve a clean and pure food environment. Middle class America is definitely slowly but surely moving as I can see in the direction of organic, healthy, sustainable foods.

In case of the Flavr Savr, scientists zeroed in on a gene associated with an enzyme that makes the tomato red. Then they reversed the effects ensuring that the tomato stays fresher much longer, but for the average consumer it sounds like foreign language.

In 1992, I was attending a seminar about genetically engineered foods at the American Culinary Federation Convention in Washington, D.C. Calgene was the core of the seminar. It was obvious from the start the argument between a room full of proud and natural-food-loving chefs versus a group of scientists and government officials slowly but surely was turning into a losing contest. It wasn’t the cross-breeding methods to make corn sweeter and roses more beautiful that made us nervous. It was the unconventional method of splicing genes and genetically engineering altered foods that challenged American chefs’ and average consumers’ core beliefs. As we speak, genetic testing is still going on in the pipeline, where the gene splicing has shown no shortage of imagination.

What’s in the Works

  • Chickens that grow faster on less feed.
  • Snap peas that are sweeter much longer.
  • Bell peppers with fewer seeds and longer shelf life.
  • Pineapples that ripen more uniformly.
  • Squash and cucumbers that need less water.
  • French fries that absorb less cooking oil.

Nature has been tested like never before; we have to become better stewards of our natural environment and its resources.

It will go on, and we all should get ready to face the truth for bigger insurmountable challenge to keep fighting nature’s city hall and the potential of new diseases glooming in the future. The most effective and durable way to do so is by educating yourself constantly through the Internet, bookstores, friendly food organizations, and an ongoing intense hunger gor research. Remember, there is no substitute for knowledge as a responsible consumer to be alert and give nature a chance.

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  • Tad Wilkes posted: 03 Feb at 2:02 pm

    Bernd, what do you see as your biggest current concerns with genetically engineered food?

  • Maurice Jordan posted: 04 Feb at 12:47 pm

    Alpha, I should have hung out with you longer. Great article Chef …