Chefs point to the potential impacts of hydraulic fracking in upstate New York on the farms upon which they depend for ingredients and the water they call their “most important ingredient.”
As the Jan. 11 deadline for public feedback on hydraulic fracking in New York approaches, a bevy of bakers, chefs and restaurateurs have formed a coalition to raise awareness about the threat they say the natural gas drilling technique poses to one of New York’s most cherished institutions: its stomach.
“Unless we say no right now, Governor Cuomo is poised to allow fracking in vast areas of the Marcellus Shale, a geologic formation that covers a large area of the mid-Atlantic region, including much of New York’s southern tier — an area of pristine waters; produce, dairy and livestock farms; and breweries and wineries,” the website of Chefs for the Marcellus reads.
Batali, who signed onto the Chefs for Marcellus cause a few weeks ago, joins Brooks Headley, executive pastry chef at Batali’s four-star Italian restaurant Del Posto, Bill Telepan of Telepan and the group’s founder, Heather Carlucci-Rodriguez of PRINT restaurant, as well as about 30 other industry professionals who fear that fracking will threaten the quality and livelihood of restaurants in New York City.
“The main thing is that fracking will affect the [upstate] water and the farms, and eventually the water in New York City,” said Headley. “You can’t mess with water like that. It’s the most important ingredient we use.”
The debate over fracking often focuses on the social, economic and environmental impact it would have on the areas upstate, under which the Marcellus Shale lies. But chefs like Headley and Batali worry about the impact on their eateries in the city.
Many restaurants source their ingredients from farms in areas on or near the Marcellus Shale, leading the chefs to fear that the groundwater could become contaminated if fracking is allowed in New York. Headley often bakes his La Dolce Mela recipe — a dessert served at Del Posto — with apples from Red Jacket Orchards in Geneva, N.Y., which is at the edge of the Marcellus.
The second concern, while more contested, is the possibility that small fracking-generated earthquakes could damage the infrastructure of the New York City watershed, directly polluting the city’s drinking water. …
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