Future of Food Conference Tweetscript: TidBit of the Day

| May 5, 2011

On Wednesday, May 4, Washington Post Live hosted an incredible conference on “The Future of Food.” From HRH Prince Charles to Eric Schlosser to the intrepid Marion Nestle, it was a fascinating, thought-provoking conference.

Source: Washington Post Live

Check out the speaker list and video highlights here. Zomppa B tweeted live via web – tweets here for your perusal if you are curious as to what was discussed (typos and all). A deeper follow-up analysis next week, but wanted to get this out in a timely fashion.


Starting @washingtonpost Future of Food conference live http://tinyurl.com/69fkvw9

Dean Chester Gillis of Georgtown College opening remarks @FutureofFood Conference

Jenny Abramson @washingtonpost live says 18 million+ watching online and on twitter @thepostlive

Mary Jordan ed of @thepostlive day agenda 1) food production/mkt & health, 2) ag sys & industrialization, 3) trends, 4) global issues, 5) a surprise!

first up Eric Schlosser of Fast Food Nation #eatlive @thepostlive disappointed not more food companies there even though many invited

livestream down but RT @thepostlive: “fast food drive-thru is like nutritional cocaine” @panerabread’s Shaich. http://bit.ly/mxbpvE

RT @mediaghosts Allen: We need more people growing food int he backyard, side yard and more community farms in the city

RT @wholesomewave Lucas Benitez: If people see the human rights crises connected to food, change might come

Staying abreast of what folks there are tweeting – thx folks! RT @civileater: Hey folks! Sorry, apparently the livestream is down! Hope they fix it for you soon.

Pay-for-what-they-can cafe models. People are inherently good & honest

RT #marisamoore RT @jummyabc7: RT @suzyji Only 8% of AfricanAmericans live in areas w/ suprmarkets

thanks for Lindsey Anderson @thepostlive for her live feeds

RT @civileater Will Allen: “a local, sustainable food system is the only way to feed the world.”

How can we change this? RT @michelnischan Allen: industrial ag promised in the 60’s to feed the world. Today over 1B starving

RT @thepostlive “For many low-income communities, it is not a time issue, it’s that there is nothing to cook” because there are no grocery stores close by, Angela Glover Blackwell says.

As Benitez said it’s human rights issue

Weatlthy may always have the access to eat well, but that doesn’t mean they always eat well

Live stream back up folks tx Lindsey!

Georgetown President Dr. John DeGioia intro HRH Prince Charles on sustainable ag & impact on global poverty & econ security

HRH definition of sustainability: keeping something going continuously

Talking sustainable food is “risky business” HRH says – we need to WAKE UP for sake of grandchildren.

HRH Prince Charles: Nature is resilient. We have to help her

HRH: way we used to do things don’t quite work the way they appeared to

HRH: In U.S. 4 out of 10 bushels of corn used for fuel

TY for talking about water HRH! soil and water depletion faster than can be replenished

HRH: “increasingly insane picture” with starvation, hidden hunger (lack of essential vitamins), and obesity.

HRH: current system simply not durable in the long run

HRH: need to be very clear of what sustainable ag system is – cannot exceed current capacity & Topsoil is critical

is the gold standard in sustainable ag unrealistic? HRH thinks not.

Sustainable ag also includes caring for the people who labor for our food and ensure a living wage

I do love this quote (note: topsoil, not oil) HRH: Topsoil is the cornerstone of the prosperity of nations.

HRH gives shout out to Michelle Obama’s @letsmove campaign

Wow. RT @timcarman: HRH: local and organic food in US and Europe reaches only 2 or 3 percent of total sales.

HRH: no one wants food prices to go up, but if current low prices are illusions, then is correcting more honest? Incentive?

RT @ariellauren HRH: system of subsidies responsible for the state of the food and farming system today. prices don’t reflect it.

HRH: how to achieve food security in world of commodities? local food sys? social/econ sys built on supporting local commun.

HRH we need to put into bottom line the TRUE cost of food production, cost for the Earth

Everything is interconnected, food plays a central role – time to bring it back HRH: accounting for sustainability

HRH: need to reframe economic issues facing us to avoid catastrophes of the future. Nurture small farmers & commun.

New Wash consensus crosses boundaries HRH: agriculture, not agri-industry holds key to enhancement of quality of life & Earth

HRH: how we deal with this [issue] will determine our survival and our humanity

Very inspiring and thoughtful speech, HRH Prince Charles! Nothing is NOT impacted by food.

future of ag panel starting now

Wendell Berry, author, farmer, father of organic farming up now

Berry: we’re like any other animals – subject to local adaptation in nature c

Berry: forget heroics. don’t break things we cannot fix. no excuse EVER for permanent ecological damage

Berry: give up notion we’re too good to do our own work and clean our own messes…not by wage slavery or enslaving nature

Berry: local sunlight, local intelligence and local work needed

Anyone else moved by his powerful way with words? Berry: ordinary citizens can undertake this work. the most humble service

Jane Black, food writer: panel incl. Wes Jackson, Fred Kirschenmann, Dennis Belcastro

Fred Kirshenmann, Stone Barns Center: we used to feed ourselves until 10K yrs ago & did agriculture

Kirschenmann: that’s when we decided we didn’t need nature anymore. Then Neo-Caloric Era. Used up calories stored up in planet

Kirschenmann: need to now take nature as model for how we produce our food – nature is not a monoculture

Jackson, the Land Institute: need perennial grains to mimic structure of natural ecosystems to the farm

Dennis Belcastro, Grocery Manufactuers Association: we all start with consumers, need real collaboration

Belcastro: starting to see expanded offerings in groceries b/c of consumer demand

Good question, Jane Black: who is driving the change? Busineses or consumers or…?

Fedele Bauccio, Bon Appetit: young people are questioning source & content of food. Our job now is to know these answers

RT @civileater Wendell Berry: The future of food is not distinguishable from the future of the land, future of human care

Bauccio need education component to change system, the more questions, the more push, something will change

Stephen McDonndell @Applegatefarms: antibiotics in meat changes playing field in cost & health consequences

Kirschenmann: #1 priority is to restore biological health of soil

RT @thepostlive “corporate charters have judiciary responsibility,” Jackson

Yikes. Jackson: we make little changes…until we address growth – pop & econ, we’re done

McDonnell @applegatefarms we work with network of small farmers, need to pay farmers what they deserve to earn

Bauccio: If I had to choose organic or local, I’d choose local. Define local less than $5mm in revenue, family-owned/operated

Bauccio: biggest problem is finding enough farmers and producers to meet demand

Krischenmann: if we define local by just how many miles, not enough…also about engaging food citizens

Right on! Jackson: ecological world view has to take place of the industrial mind

RT @kristinovowels Wes Jackson: “I think we’re under a great illusion that we’re going to save the earth with Priuses and squiggly light bulbs”

Bauccio: we make money and do good

Kirschenmann: how can we learn from nature – more diversity & redundancy into system

McDonnell @applegatefarms factory farms went too far, take best practices, need a blend, not going back

Black: find something that works today that works for us. It’s a 21st century system

Wish I was at the lunch! RT @timcarman: Sam Kass: Chefs are uniquely position to have an impact across the entire food chain.

Health and nutrition panelstarting up soon

A riddle…Dr. Ross, what do you mean? Robert Ross, California Endowment: yellow dots in blue squares…

Ross: food issue likened to tobacco fight, one of biggest strides in public health, is ongoing 100 year war

Ross: food far more complicated and we don’t have 100 years

Ross: issue of power and only way to deal is a movement that wields power

Ross: your life expectancy can be estimated by zip code

Ross: now see 12, 13, 14 year olds with multiple chronic adult conditions, access to healthy food matters

Ross: need increase purchasing power through govt & private sector pgms

Ross: need improvement in school meals and school funded acts

Ross: need limits of marketing unhealthy food to children

Ross: reduce consumption of sugary bvg and overly processed foods

Ross: improve food system – from labeling to retailing to price/place healthy foods

Ross: more on financing

Ross: use investment to invest in regional food economies & fresh food establishments

Ross: roughly 25% of California designated food desert even though it is a breadbasket of US

Riddle solved Ross: yellow dots are fresh foods, blue squares are blocks of food deserts so we need more yellow dots

Ross: triple-bottom line: 1) clear public health benefit 2) many comm need pro-health/econ dvp 3) an investment to incentivize

Yeah, Dr. Ross! Ross: what if all investments did this, even <1%, what might happen in 5-7 years?

Ross: “if you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got”

Mary Jordan intro panel: Michael Taylor (FDA), @MarionNestle (yay!) Debora Eschmeyer (@FarmtoSchool) Susan Crockett, Gen Mills

Eschmeyer also co-founder of @Foodcorps

@MarionNestle need to get Congress to make changes 1) election campaign laws, 2) way Wall Street evaluates companies

Crockett: movements @generalmills – have improved 63% of products – call it stealth health, make improvements quietly

Crockett: example, take out sugar in cereals 1 gram at a time so consumers don’t leave or add sugar themselves

Crockett: adding whole grains slowly so customers don’t get shocked by change in taste, texture, flavor

OK…but…? Taylor: no question practices of use of antiobiotics need to be addressed

Uh huh…and? Taylor: we have regulatory tools to remove some of these products if there are legal threshholds crossed

Great questions Jordan!

Eschmeyer @Foodcorps: hopefully no need in future to hide food

@MarionNestle just eat food and you don’t need to worry about labels

Crockett @Generalmills frozen veggies are great alternatives, could be less expensive too

Right on @MarionNestle ! Why always blame women for “no time to cook” – teach kids to cook

Crockett: 27% of consumers said cooking was a bother, it’s an attitude issue not just the time

Crockett: studies shown 20% choose healthy diet, but food industry treat 80% as if they don’t have time/want to cook

@MarionNestle maybe food movement needs to buy some lawmakers

@MarionNestle frozen produce usually picked at peak, texture might be different but in winter esp in Northeast much better off

Eschmeyer @FarmtoSchool it’s also about romance, community, family, sit down and eat together

Taylor: implementing food safety law key, requiring calorie labeling in restaurants will also be key

Mary Jordan – you’re rocking the questions!

Taylor: we have charge from Congress and rules/guidelines about food portions

@MarionNestle dreamworld is food movement will get bigger & bigger, like an avalanche

Tom Vilsack, Sec of Agriculture, takes the stage

Vilsack: first instruction of boss – make sure the kids are well fed

Vilsack: set to improve 32mm+ school meals each day, found current meals were contributing to obesity and not helping hunger

Hunger & obesity twin problems, Vilsack notes

Vilsack: embrace local food systems to give choices & food hubs for small producers to aggregate & access inst. food buyers

Vilsack: support CSA, help farmers in rural comm.

Vilsack: do this b/c right thing to do & b/c presents new economic opportunity

Vilsack: 2.1 mm farmers (produces $1K+ in sales), 1.3mm of those residential farmers & hardly make money

Vilsack: 30% increase in farmers markets

Vilsack: 200K provide 85% of food consumed in the country and they did pretty well [financially]

Vilsack: need to provide incentives to build those in the middle and grow small producers

Vilsack: those in middle maybe made 10K

Vilsack: have over 1300 people’s gardens, need to do more gardening

Vilsack: obesity could increase health care costs up to 20% in next several years – real costs

Vilsack: putting $$ into research at land-grant institutions, how to get youngsters interested in eating healthy foods

Vilsack: looking at conservation (soil/water), diversify landscape for greater econ op, wildlife, etc. in rural areas

Vilsack: define food subsidies – most say direct payments – #FarmBill in 2012 proposes limitations, provide safety net

Vilsack: will see more in crop insurance

Vilsack: to young people, go to local school & ask to help build school garden, plant, tend, and harvest, get chefs involved

Like Chopped-USDA style? Vilsack: have chef’s contest at USDA – this is the reimbursement, the guidelines, work it!

RT @TimCarman: Vislack: Gov’t looking at reducing subsidy payments to those who don’t need it

Vilsack: getting young people connected to the food system is huge, a big deal, policy, no small feat

Vilsack: 4-H – more than 1/2mm students – share your thoughts on #FarmBill

What’s does judicious mean? Vilsack: USDA policy are at times needs for antibiotics and need to be used judiciously

Audience member question: 70% of antibiotics used on healthy animals – what gives, Vilsack?

Really? Vilsack: folks need to understand it’s in farmer’s long term benefits to use antibiotics

@FutureofFood filmmaker asks how can you justify approval of GMO alfafa & why don’t we label GMO foods?

Huh? Vilsack: did b/c that’s what the law requires. I swore to uphold the law.

Vilsack: I took a step further and have conversations – how to reconcile the two sides who traditionally talked in courtroom

Vilsack: bring all sides, talk what happens when my field gets contaminated

Yes, props to @Laurie_David for question on antibiotics on 70% of healthy animals!

Vilsack: I’ve been sued from both sides. Issue not supposed to be decided in courtroom but in productive mtg

Vilsack: do consumers know “natural” chicken is injected w salt water? Don’t know if that’s natural, but consumers should know

Vilsack: give people (consumers, farmers, etc.) information and choice and let market decide

Vilsack: hard to find people who are willing to talk & listen & not be attacked. ALL of us have this issue

@Pinnochia Hard to say…that it’s like two sons and asking which he loves more! Says want both sides to sit & discuss, not fight

Vilsack: 22% on SNAP – supplemental nutritional assistance program – able to work but are not

Vilsack: 90% of folks on SNAP somebody other than those receiving, i.e. senior citizens, children

Vilsack: SNAP not just assistance but also economic stimulant

Vilsack: 1 out 7 Americans receiving SNAP

Vilsack: we give states ability to administer SNAP, but half the folks who need it aren’t getting it – outreach isn’t there

Vilsack: #FarmBill debate will be tough, but end of day, kids can’t perform on empty stomach

Patrick Holden @susfoodtrust UK farmer & started Sustainable Food Trust

Holden @susfoodtrust: reiterate HRH that change is urgent – ask panel if that is true. Need for system resilience for shocks

Holden @susfoodtrust time for discussions over, time for action. Have to undertake a journey for radical transformation. How?

Laurie Anderko intro panel: Holden, Dr. Tim Beach, Dr. Hans Herren, Gary Hirshberg (@Stoneyfield – yay!) Vandana Shiva

Tim Beach (Georgetown): bring students to Central America to learn indigenous ways of working with the land & compare with ME

Herren @MillenniumInst: saved cassava crop without any chemicals, there ARE ways to work w/ nature

Herren @millenniuminst : most actions today dealing with symptoms – good for biz, bad for everyone else

Herren @millenniuminst soil is the #1 thing, agriculture is multifunctional

Herren, you’re great! @millenniuminst time to act was yesterday, we write reports on things we already know what to do

Hirshberg @stonyfield now $400mm company, source globally, org banana co-ops, launched org ventures, etc.

Hirshberg @stonyfield spending much time of alfafa issue, 50% of GMO come out of the U.S.

Hirshberg @stonyfield what Vilsack shared IS progress – even if not progress we want

Hirshberg @stonyfield – incredible win for organics to be the table used to not be able to say anything

Hirshberg @stonyfield about economic status quo – those who made tons w/ no consequences

Hirshfield @stonyfield we are not seeing the “pros” of GMO crops, we have the science on organic yields & they are good

Hirshfield @stonyfield we need labeling, consumer choice, global producers need to protect seeds saved for generations

Hirshfield @stonyfield when we have labeling, we will hit parity

Vandana Shive, Navdanya: intellectual property treaty lets big corps “own” seeds, ag sys puts small farms at disdvantage

Shiva: many farmers committed suicide in India, need to start saving seeds

Shiva: trained 500K farmers in eco-friendly farming methods – this movement is strong

Shiva: other movement is dishonest – really gets my goat. Vilsack saying giving equal choice to big & small – how?

Shiva: Vilsack seems afraid of the cause, 25 people do not constitute democracy, our farmers are dying

Shiva: need to reclaim food as our nourishment, not just commerce, about enviro/society/health

Shiva: how much HEALTH are you yielding per acre, organic practices can double

Shiva: bad if artificial process keeps going while keeping org/sust process down

Herren @millenniuminst idea of cheap as God-given right has got to go

I heart Herren, anyone else? @millenniuminst Need political courage to change & I didn’t see this at all today

Another fav Hirshberg @stonyfield no question that organics is long-term economics

Hirshberg @stonyfield 50% of sales come from 1% of US public – it’s us. Single driver to bring down premium is volume

Hirshberg @stonyfield cheap food is a myth, power is us

Hirshberg @stonyfield we vote several times a day, we amass economic power – we have to. Change the law, need labeling

Hirsberg @stonyfield label so we know what we want, those with the ability CAN shape this movement

Right on! Hirshberg @stonyfield whether educators or those with purchasing powers – orgs are 4% of US food – need to act

Sen. Jon Tester from MT, farmer up next to conclude

So true! Sen Tester speaking as a farmer: if you eat, food policy affect you

Sen Tester: generations ago, rotating crops critical to econ success

Sen Tester: past 100 yrs, far less crop rotation and marketing, monoculture crop accelerated after WWI

Good point Sen Tester: universities started relying on private funding, not public, for agricultural research

Sen Tester: The Farm Program used to be patriotic duty, past 50 yrs, payments to select few crops

Sen Tester: when family farmers don’t control the seeds, multinationals do

Whoa! Sen Tester: I don’t buy that GMO is only way to feed the planet

Sen Tester: GMO takes away options for farmer & consumers, won’t know what you’re truly eating, no going back after genie out

Wow. Sen Tester: 10% of egg producers produce 99% of what we eat as example

Sen Tester: local food move. IS growing, future of food lies on family farms & consumers who get smart policies on all levels

Sen Tester: real problem is with overly centralized food system, those churning out thousands and thousands of stuff

Sen Tester: food companies poured a whole lot of dough to fight this

Sen Tester: common sense prevails. If you fight for it, you’ll win

Sen Tester: each of you have the power to effect change…very foundation of world food is family farms

Sen Tester: we have incredible op for change but don’t sit around on your hands

I think I heart Sen Tester too: empower consumers, being heard. Agriculture is my first love.

Sen Tester: when I’m done with the Senate, I’m heading back to the farm. Because that’s sanity to me

Video highlights will be up on @washingtonpostlive, also on Facebook & special report next wed paper

Tx @Washingtonpostlive for an incredible, thought-provoking day, thx to all those following w/ great updates!

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Category: Food Politics, Newsbits, TidBit of the Day

About the Author (Author Profile)

With a flair for spontaneity, pizzazz, creative excellence and her own unique sense of aesthetic grace and perspective, we have our very dear friend, Belinda (or B, to some of us). Although an incredibly accomplished professional and career woman, B’s down-to-earth approach and demeanor transcends all scenarios, communities and people. She manifests, in her day-to-day, the essence of the word “Zomppa” as demonstrated by her extraordinary commitment to creating sustainable and positive change for us and future generations to come. She’s asked for a dog every year since she was five. Check out Belinda’s work on global education research and coaching: www.hummingbirdrcc.com or more about her portfolio www.belindachiu.com.

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  1. The Future was Yesterday : Zomppa – International Food Magazine | May 9, 2011
  1. a Nordn'Ireland dad says:

    Great coverage, Belinda!

  2. olive says:

    interesting discussion, makes me want to start my own veggie garden, if only I know how..

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Patty says:

    Whoa! Belinda, this is intense. Thanks so very much for transcribing all of this amazing information!

  4. Beth says:

    Amazing. I must admit that I didn’t read all the comments, but the ones I did read, especially on poverty and access to food, were stunning. These things need to be said!