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As one of the first in the cooking genre to chronicle the convergence of eco-friendly food and lifestyles, I had a chance to preview the fourth season of PBS’ outstanding culinary series, “Chefs A’Field,” in advance of its DVD debut earlier this week. Inasmuch as I thoroughly enjoyed the series — which focuses heavily on sustainable agriculture and seafood alongside a heaping helping of inspiring ideas about shopping for and preparing meals with über-fresh ingredients — I believe a profound opportunity to take its important message to the masses — in a channel that arguably matters the most — is woefully missing from its authorized distributor’s list. (More on that a bit later.)
Offering a visual feast of culinary adventures, the latest installment of the award-winning series follows some of America’s most renowned chefs as they step out of the kitchen to travel across the United States in search of the country’s finest locally and sustainably grown, raised and produced foods.
From a pair of cousins who revitalized their family’s Chesapeake Bay-based oyster business, to a picture-perfect, pesticide-free central Pennsylvania peach grower, to a visit with native Yup’ik Alaska Eskimos who fish the Yukon River delta in Old World tradition for its renowned king salmon, the new batch of culinary adventures are filmed on location in “true” high-definition format.
Exploring the diverse faces and places of America’s food landscape, behind-the-scenes footage shot in some of America’s best restaurants showcases professional, accessible, how-to techniques to help inspire people of all ages and skill levels to get cooking.
The series’ unique approach to cooking, travel and the environment has earned enthusiastic reviews from its public television audience and critics alike, as well as numerous honors, including two James Beard Awards and two CINE Golden Eagles.
“Chefs A’Field” season four episodes include:
• Counting Sheep: California’s Sonoma Valley Brings New Meaning to “Wine and Cheese”
• King Of Alaska: The “King” of King Salmon on Alaska’s Mighty Yukon River
• Blueberry Bombshells: Exploding Oregon Blueberries Blast the Taste Buds
• Old Salts, Young Guns: Chesapeake Bay Oysters Bubble Back From Virtual Extinction
• Sweet Nectar: World’s First Organic Fair-Trade Honey & Blue Agave Syrup From Mexico
• Peaches and Herb: Pennsylvania Peaches Transcending Politics in Washington, D.C.
• Food Defines Family: California Surfer Grows Vietnamese Specialties
• The Real Chef’s Garden: Seattle Chef Takes “Farm to Table” to New Heights
• Sustainable Hawaii: Not Just Beaches and Volcanoes; Secret Ingredients to Delight the Palate
• Oregon Organics: Wheelchair Farmer Fosters Good Earth
• Disappearing Act: Imagining a World Without Bees
• Milking Goodness: Chef Leads the Herd
• The Revolution: The Birthplace of Modern Organic Farming
With a total running time of approximately 6.5 hours, “Chefs A’Field” is presently available via the PBS Web site, as well as in a variety of retail outlets and online booksellers, such as Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and Target, as opposed to what I believe would be the most logical of all outlets, which is, of course, grocery stores.
To be sure, far be it from me to tell the fine folks at PBS Distribution how to peddle their fantastic, food-friendly film. But I simply can’t think of a more logical, natural (pun intended) place to do so than in the select regional supermarkets, many of which are taking a leading role in advancing sustainably raised and harvested produce and livestock. If you need any additional convincing evidence of this, please be sure to click through the rest of the stories below to learn about the latest ways several progressive grocers from around the country are embracing sustainable, locally sourced provisions in meaningful ways.