Dan Barber: “How I fell love with a fish”

To introduce, the American Chef. Dan Barber is a renowned and an influential figure that attempts to promote the importance of a sustainable food-system to the global community. Apart from building his cooking around the idea of ‘knowing what we exactly eat and where they come from’, he writes and speaks to enforce directives to make a change in the irresponsible way we produce and consume food. In his TED talk “How I fell in love with a fish”, he focusses on enlightening the audience of the true possibility of revolutionizing today’s unsustainable agricultural system into the sustainable ecological system that had been proven to work through “two billion years of on-the-job experience” by the nature.

Here, Barber gets to his point by comparing two contrasting fish farming models, a one being the ideal for a better future and the other the opposite. First, he speaks of how the mass-consumption of fishes has depleted the fishes in the waters and that the rising of environmentally complicate fish farming as a solution for keep up the supply to the increasing demand. After speaking to his longtime fish supplier who is famous to farm fish in a sustainable manner based on the fact that being far away from the sea promoting less pollution and having a much lower feed conversion ratio, he finds that the 30% of the feed of the fish are derived from chicken. Here, with this revealed he become unconvinced that it can be considered as a sustainable farming system. On the other hand, he comes across a revolutionary mega fish farm in Southern Spain where they had allowed to establish an ecosystem that is self-sustained and needless to feed the fish from external means. There, fishes are depending on the algae, phytoplankton and live species that present within the system. Also, the efficiency of the farm is evaluated by the health of the birds that feed on fishes. According to Barber, this system is also able to purify the water by removing the pollutants through numerous bio-chemical processes. In his words, “The system is so healthy, it purifies the water. So, not just a farm that doesn’t feed its animals, not just a farm that measures its success by the health of its predators, but a farm that’s literally a water purification plant”. Finally, he draws our attention towards the importance of moving away from the agribusiness model and to working on ecological model where we can achieve a sustainable food production to cater food to the global community.

Certainly, as the speaker expects, an ecological model is definitely a sustainable way of agriculture as it is how the world had been until the industrial revolution, technological advancements, and emerge of profit-based mass food productions. Also, Barber notes that people need to find ways to create required conditions to produce their own food within the communities. Here, question arises whether it is really possible to transition from the current economically-dominant agribusiness model to a less profitable ecological model in a global environment built in capitalistic profit-based grounds. Further, do we have sufficient natural resources left within most of the communities to start building food production when looking at the immense industrialization and environmental destruction. Anyhow, if we can work as a global community in changing the way we look at food production as Barber reveals, we surely can hope for a better or a future.

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