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A Letter from Michel

About sixteen years ago, my son Chris was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. When my wife and I went to meet with the doctor, she spent most of the time telling us how dietary changes would have the most impact for Chris’s long term outcome than anything else. That was a huge wakeup call for me as a chef.

I once thought that food was everything because I was a chef. But when Chris got sick, I learned that food is everything period.The more research I did, the more I learned how food as a single subject has more of an impact on human health, societal health, environmental health, and economic health than any other single subject.Sadly, it’s not until so many of us encounter some significant emotional event, such as a loved one being diagnosed with a health condition, that we understand the implications of buying and eating choices.

When Chris was diagnosed, I started working with Drew Nierpoint because I wanted to change the way I approached food. Together we started Heartbeat in NYC, where we created a menu totally free of processed foods and focused on seasonal, local foods. It was during that time that I realized diet-preventable health problems didn’t really exist in the population who could afford to eat at Heartbeat. This population has access to great health care and most already shop for organic, fresh foods at farmer’s markets. If every single “white tablecloth” restaurant bought organically and locally, it would affect less than 5% of the nationwide food industry. That doesn’t even scratch the surface of the millions who need it.

As parents, we suffer with our children. My wife and I are lucky because we have the resources and access to the best food possible to help them prolong their life. For many other millions of Americans who don’t have those resources, it’s heartbreaking. I can’t even imagine what it feels like for a parent living in an underserved community who is completely powerless to slow down or reverse the process that will let them enjoy their children as long as possible. That is why I do Wholesome Wave.