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How Philadelphia's Restaurant Industry Would Change the World Through Food

How would you change the world through food? Local experts weigh in.

To mark the relaunch of Eater today, the Features team compiled a collection of seventy-two of the best ideas for how people around the world are or how they plan to or how they want to change the world through food. A lot of the ideas are incredibly earnest. Some are ambitious beyond reason. But what they all have in common is a belief that, with hard work and good food, the world is headed in the right direction.

As a local component to this feature, we asked the Philadelphia community to chime in. So check out the national responses over here and scroll below to see what local thinkers and doers would like to do to change the world through food. Have a suggestion? Add it to the comments.

Steve Cook's Abe Fisher.

Steve CookCookNSolo Restaurants (Federal Donuts, Zahav, et al.): One doughnut at a time. Until the Star Trek replicator comes online next year, food forces us into contact with other people in ways that are increasingly rare. It's the human transaction that matters. It fulfills our need to care and be cared for. Food is fundamentally a vehicle for hospitality, and hospitality can change the world. That and donuts.

Jon Adams, co-owner of Rival Bros. Coffee: I would change the world through food by developing cereal that doesn't get soggy. #staycrunchymyfriends

Dean Carlson, owner of Wyebrook Farm: I believe we as consumers can have a huge impact on human health and the quality of life for millions of farm animals by simply choosing to source our meat from local, sustainable, pasture-based farms and the stores and restaurants that serve those products. The consumer's dollar speaks loudest.

George Sabatino, chef-owner of upcoming Aldine: Have you ever seen Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs????

Erin O’Shea, chef and co-owner of Percy Street Barbecue: Good lord, I'd make sure everyone HAD food. Could you imagine our world if hunger was not an issue? How do we do this? ...I just don't know, but I'm pretty sure we would have to change fundamentally as human beings and as a society.

Bryan Mayer, butcher and partner in Kensington Quarters: By simply educating!
[Ed note: Mayer’s upcoming restaurant, Kensington Quarters, plans to do that with on-site whole animal butchering and hands-on classes on a variety of topics.]

Eli Collins, executive chef of Pub & Kitchen: I think the team behind Rooster Soup Co. is on the right path. If more chefs were able to create business models that were able to feed those less fortunate in our society and abroad, the world would become a better place.

Little Nonna's. [Photo: Jason Varney]

Val Safran, co-owner of Lolita, Little Nonna’s, et al.: We live in a crazy world. Any time you can help a person escape reality to sit down, relax, and have a good meal in your restaurant — and to just enjoy the moment — is what I hope we do on a daily basis. I know it sounds cheesy, but the other day Marcie and I did just that. Crazy day, crazy night. We had a meal at 10pm at Little Nonna’s and could relax for an hour.

Adam Erace, food writer and co-owner of Green Aisle Grocery: Our industrialized food system is a giant clusterfuck of problems begetting problems. You can't address obesity, for example, or food deserts or school lunches without starting at the source of the issue, which is a system that favors big ag and deep pockets. Championing fresh, local, organic food might be so in vogue it's become a cliche, but the merit in the idea is a no-brainer. It's already changed the way many of us eat — and many of us that aren't even involved in the food industry. (I saw local corn at ShopRite, for crying out loud.) I think education is key. Chefs are the ones carrying this torch, but not everyone eats at acclaimed restaurants, so the education needs to be multi-platform and start with kids in classrooms.

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