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.
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!