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  • Writer's pictureTamanna Mohapatra

TEDxManhattan- Changing The Way We Eat.- March 1st 2014 (part 1)

The TEDxManhattan “Changing the Way We Eat” is a series of live talks, networking and meeting of both experts and other involved and interested in the topic of sustainable food and farming. The first such series took place in 2011 when 300 change-makers, innovators and experts attended. Twenty speakers took the stage to share their expertise with the sustainable food movement. TEDxManhattan vision is to ‘help shift our industrial, over processed food system to one that is healthy, sustainable and just for all. Join us as we work on the biggest movement since Civil rights, one talk at a time.’

Below is a summary of each of the various talks, consider it as a list of ‘different faces and views of a healthy Food Movement’.

Clint Smith Educator and poet Clint Smith teaches English in MD. In the classroom, Mr. Smith combines his passion for poetry and justice to teach students the importance of their own stories as catalysts for meaningful social action. He spoke about food deserts– a poor urban area where residents do not have or are not given access to healthy food or groceries stores. He does this so eloquently through use of poetry and stories about his students. They are to him warriors fighting a battle against an enemy (in this case our society) they cannot see.  But he also sees them as roses that grow from the concrete.  According to him kids these days come from real and difficult circumstances which are not under their control, therefore we need to see the best in them, not the worst; we need to see their resiliency.  Let us recognize, encourage, and celebrate this quality in them. 

Myra Goodman-Myra Goodman and her husband Drew founded Earthbound Farm on a 2 1/2 acre backyard garden in Carmel Valley, CA in 1984. They became self-taught farmers and intuitively resisted handling agricultural chemicals. Earthbound Farm has grown from humble beginnings to become the largest grower of organic produce in North America. Their products are available in 75% of supermarkets across the country.

Her 12 minutes talk focused on importance of eating organic, no matter what the source/size of the farm.  She feels strongly about organics being part of a healthy food system and diet. Organics helps the environment, the farmers and farm laborers, and the consumers. Yet, it’s less than 5% of all food sales and only 1% of all land farmed. It shouldn’t be an exclusive club.  Thus, we should do all to encourage organic cultivation, even if it’s promoting big organic.

Megan Miller– Megan Miller is founder of Bitty, a San Francisco-based food startup that uses high-protein cricket flour as the basis for a line of energy bars and gluten-free baked goods. Bitty seeks to remove cultural taboos around eating insects and popularize them as a delicious, sustainable ingredient that may help alleviate global food scarcity. Her 6-minute talk attempts to convince us on how insects are the most sustainable protein source on the planet. My problem is that the she advocates eating this through baked goods which in itself is not good and in reality wherever it’s eaten (Mexico and Thailand), it is a delicacy, not a main source of protein. 

Alison Cayne– She is the owner of Haven’s Kitchen, a recreational cooking school, specialty food shop, and event space in Manhattan. She also worked with GrowNYC and in addition is on the boards of Just Food and Edible Schoolyard NYC, and a contributing editor at Domino Magazine. According to her, the US food system, which, comprises all the steps from seed to plate (grow, process, ship, market, and eat) is very broken.  For her, food justice covers all food topics worth fighting for and is a growing social movement that sooner or later will ensure every person in America has access to healthy affordable food.  The steps to getting there include emergence of a food movement, coalescence, institutionalization, and finally decline of the movement once the movement has proven to be successful in its goals. Her inspirational talk encouraged those who are part of the food movement to recognize that their efforts (keeping in mind other such historical efforts) will bear fruit and those who are not, to join the band wagon of bridging the gap and amplifying the solution. 

Matthew Moore Matthew Moore is a fourth generation family farmer, working artist and food activist. Moore farms outside of Phoenix, Arizona, and exhibits his video and installation artwork internationally. Through these practices, he addresses issues of ecological, cultural, and economical sustainability and the potential loss of small independent farms. His talk focuses on understanding art to understand food. The following abstract is taken from his web presence called DFC (Digital Farm Collective): If you could watch an entire head of lettuce grow in a matter of minutes, would it give you new perspective on how our food is produced? If you knew it took 160 days to grow a carrot, would it change the way you think about the produce you eat? While the global population rapidly rises, the number of farmers continues to drop, and we face a dwindling resource of agricultural knowledge. Even so, we live in promising times where people are increasingly curious about where their food comes from and the impact their food choices make. DFC’s mission is to broaden the understanding of how food grows and preserve growing practices by telling the story of cultivated crops using video and digital media in schools and public spaces.

Tom Colicchio– He opened his first ‘wichcraft in New York City in 2003. Today ‘wichcraft has 14 New York City locations, and elsewhere. In May 2010, Colicchio was awarded The James Beard Foundation’s coveted “Outstanding Chef” award. Since 2006, Tom has been applying his experience and expertise as the head judge on Bravo’s “Top Chef.”  Tom appears in and served as executive producer on A Place at the Table, which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. His mantra is we can end hunger; we don’t need to manage hunger.  To do that all we need is political will. His point is that we all care about it labeling GMOs in our food, local food systems, giving school children proper nutrition, or reducing antibiotics in our food..and we all have the power to make our care heard through our right to vote AND by working together. Together with Kenneth Cook, they formed Food Policy Action. It provides a scorecard on food issues and what our representatives think and are doing about them. Very inspirational talk and person.

Dr. Lance Price– He is a public health researcher who works at the interface between science and policy to address the growing crisis of antibiotic resistance. Dr. Price and his colleagues have traced the origins of new superbugs to industrial livestock production.  He studies superbugs- antibiotic resistance bacteria. 23,000 Americans die from superbug infections annually. In the policy arena, Dr. Price works with grassroots organizations, NGOs, and policymakers to develop science-based policies to curb antibiotic abuse in food-animal production and stem the emergence of new superbugs.He tells us about rampage use of antibiotics in farm animals being used as production tools, to prevent diseases born out of production techniques (bad living conditions (think CAFO- Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) and wanting to grow them too fast too soon). Of the 30 million antibiotics fed per year to these animals, only 20% is to cure their sickness. The key to creating superbugs: low dose antibiotics. They will produce drug resistant bacteria. These drug resistant bacteria are living organisms and can travel through our food or through our skin and then our body gets resistant to future antibiotics as well. That is the scary part which is so well explained in this Ted talk.

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