By Jane Kimmelman
On March 7, food luminaries from around the world gathered in Manhattan to discuss the future of food. Titled “Changing The Way We Eat,” the conference was a working session and brainstorm on solutions to the problems that face our food system: access, health, biodiversity, and sustainability. Here are five talks you should watch.
1. STEPHEN REILY: “BEYOND FOOD HUBS — LOUISVILLE AND THE NEW FOOD ECONOMY”
Stephen Reily started a non-profit called Seed Capital Kentucky to support his local food economy by building infrastructure. His revelation: the infrastructure already exists, we’re just not using it well.
Reily contends that our local food economy needs to grow beyond farmers markets by embracing middlemen who can handle the challenges of distribution.
His vision? An urban business park that could provide housing to dozens of local companies in the food industry, and in turn provide jobs to local communities.
2. DANIELLE NIERENBERG: “CULTIVATING EQUALITY IN THE FOOD MOVEMENT”
Danielle Nierenberg imagines a world where female farmers have the same access to the tools of food production as men.
Her vision is especially relevant in third world countries, where 80 percent of farmers are female. This “invisible sisterhood” is invaluable to the harvesting of the resources we depend on, but their work is hampered by discrimination.
Nierenberg’s presentation is simple: a plea for us to listen and respond to the needs of women farmers worldwide.
3. SHEN TONG: “FEEDING THE FOOD MOVEMENT”
Shen Tong, a food activist and ex-pat from China, tackles the problems with the food industry as a father of three young children.
His talk touches on the intersection of poverty, food access, degrading farming methods, and political greed.
The good news, Tong says, is that something as vital as eating is also a political act. It’s time to treat it like one.
He calls it a “food port,” and it might be the supermarket of the future.
4. STEFANIE SACKS: “HOW SMALL CHANGES IN FOOD CHOICE CAN MAKE BIG EVERYDAY CHANGES”
Stefanie Sacks wants to know: what the FORK are we eating?
Sacks challenges the idea that preparing food at home with everyday kitchen ingredients is a luxury. Instead, she says, it’s a necessary way of life. She highlights familiar setbacks: finding time to prepare nutritious meals, access to produce, the higher cost of healthy food.
As a nutritionist, Sacks knows that healthy eating is our medicine. She invites us with a rare sincerity to change the way we see our kitchens, our stomachs, and our relationship to ourselves.
5. MICHELE MERKEL: “USING THE LEGAL SYSTEM TO FIGHT FACTORY FARMS”
What happens when waste from an industrial pig feedlot spills over into a neighboring town? After the water is poisoned and fly populations skyrocket, Michele Merkel comes in to hold the system responsible.
A former EPA employee, Merkel quit her job to argue against these systems and the environmental damages they bring.