Celebrated New York chef Dan Barber has been making the rounds this past month. He’s promoting his hefty new book, “The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food.” More than that, he’s trying to shake up the American diet.
As chef of Blue Hill restaurants in Manhattan and at Stone Barns (the latter set on a nonprofit farm and agricultural center in Pocantico Hills, New York), Barber has long done just that, but recently his arguments have shifted. For going on two decades, he has eloquently and deliciously championed heirloom vegetables and heritage animal breeds. In “The Third Plate,” he advocates for healthy soil.
Pioneering organic gardener Robert Rodale was famously known to say, “Feed the soil and it will feed the crop.” In turn, Barber would add, it will feed us. In practical terms, Barber says that means eating items that, when growing, are beneficial to the soil.
This recipe for homemade pancake mix can incorporate oats, millet, rye and buckwheat. All are cover crops that naturally suppress weeds by competing with them for space, water, sunlight and nutrients (so you can skip the Roundup). Packed with whole grains, these pancakes not only boost the soil, but they also give a boost to eaters.
Find “The Third Plate,” well worth reading, at Longfellow Books in Portland and elsewhere.