The Third Plate is chef Dan Barber's extraordinary vision for a new future of American eating. After more than a decade spent investigating farming communities around the world in pursuit of singular flavor, Barber finally concluded that – for the sake of our food, our health, and the future of the land – America's cuisine required a radical transformation.
The revelations Barber shares in The Third Plate took root in his restaurant's kitchen. But his process of discovery took him far afield – to alternative systems of food production and cooking that maximize sustainability, nutrition, and flavor. Barber explores the traditional farming practices of the Spanish dehesa, a uniquely vibrant landscape that has been fine-tuned to produce the famed jamón ibérico. Along the Atlantic coast, he investigates the future of seafood through a revolutionary aquaculture operation and an ancient tuna fishing tradition. In upstate New York, Barber learns from a flourishing mixed-crop farm whose innovative organic practices have revived the land and resurrected an industry. And in Washington State he works with cuttingedge seedsmen developing new varieties of grain in collaboration with local bakers, millers, and malters. Drawing on the wisdom and experience of chefs and farmers from around the world, Barber proposes a new definition for ethical and delicious eating destined to refashion Americans' deepest beliefs about food.
Traditionally, Americans have dined on the "first plate," a classic meal centered on meat with few vegetables. Thanks to the burgeoning farm-to-table movement, many people have begun eating from the "second plate," the new ideal of organic, grass-fed meats and local vegetables. But neither model, Barber shows, supports the long-term productivity of the land. Instead, he calls for a "third plate," a new pattern of eating rooted in cooking with and celebrating the whole farm – an integrated system of vegetable, grain, and livestock production.