“Why bother?” asks Michael Pollan in the Green Issue of The New York Times Magazine . This “big question facing us as individuals hoping to do something about climate change” is a good one.

Let’s say, for example, that Chefs Collaborative is totally successful and sustainability becomes second nature for chefs and the greater culinary community – from white tablecloth restaurants to the town diner. Will it matter in the larger world of climate change and the health of our planet?

I have to believe that the answer is “yes!” While I’m quite sure that our efforts alone will not be the key to our climate change problems (scientists don’t even agree about what steps we need to take), being conscious of our carbon footprint matters. This includes being mindful of where our food comes from and the energy it takes to grow and deliver it. And as we take action around our carbon footprints, we’ll be doing something else too: Contributing to the quality of our lives, the diversity of our food supply, and the health of our communities.

The greater culinary community can be a catalyst for positive change by creating a market for good, sustainably produced food and by helping preserve local farming and fishing communities. I encourage each of you – whether for your restaurant or your family meal – to take a step (any step) that feels doable: Support your local farmer’s market, purchase seafood that has been sourced responsibly, or try cooking with lesser-known cuts of meat. Your actions will not only contribute directly to a more robust food supply and healthy environment, but as a chef you’ll influence your customers’ food choices as well. And who knows what kind of ripple effects these behavior changes will set in motion.

–Melissa Kogut, Executive Director, Chefs Collaborative