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  • Writer's pictureTamanna Mohapatra

TEDxManhattan- Changing The Way We Eat.- March 1st 2014 (part 2)

Good morning folks. I was waiting the whole week to get back to watching the rest of the food related Ted Talks and share the synopsis of each with you. I really recommend watching them all but if you are pressed for time and can only watch one, do listen to Sarah Young; the winner of this year’s Tedx Challenge. Here goes:

Kenneth Cook  – He is the president and co-founder of Environmental Working Group (EWG), widely recognized as one of the most prominent and effective independent analysts of U.S. farm policy. Cook is a principal architect of landmark conservation laws that have shifted U.S. agriculture policy toward preservation of land, water, wetlands and wildlife. EWG’s farm subsidy databases “not only caught the attention of lawmakers, it also helped transform the farm bill into a question about equity.”

At this year’s TedX show, spoke about the soon to launch EWG Food Database. It started when they found out that subway bread has a chemical in it to soften their bread; a chemical that is found in yoga mats. They felt maybe subway eaters should know about this and then decide if they still want to ingest that and other chemicals.

In their beta stage, so far they have 80,000 products, 5000 ingredients and 1,500 brands you could search by. Keep this site/app handy next time you go grocery shopping  or dining out and want to try out any processed food (80% of what’s available to us as food choices!

Andrew Gunther– He is the Program Director of Animal Welfare Approved since 2008. AWA farms are now recognized as being at the vanguard of high welfare, environmentally positive, and socially responsible agriculture. Andrew and his family pioneered the world’s first organic poultry hatchery for chickens. His Ted talk focused on three points:

  1. What’s broken in our food system: our food is produced with a huge environmental and social cost. Another related cost is the cost on consumer health. He talks about unintended and now known and unstopped consequence of using antibiotics in meat product.

  2. How did it happen: An absolute ‘end game’ situation based on the amount of antibiotics we feed to animals that we later go ahead and consume. The amount is close to 30 million pounds annually compared to just 8 million pounds used by the whole human population in one year. Then when there is excess manure from these animals, industrial farmers are liquefying it and spreading it as toxic manure and thus destroying their own farmland.

  3. What can we do about it?-We need to switch back to pasturing from grain feeds. Pasture feeding is healthy and therefore it would decrease if not stop use of antibiotics. He also recommended going back to the old ways of eating less meat in general (esp. chicken) as that’s what is good for our body, our animals, and our environment.

He ended his talk thanking all sustainable farmers who are trying to fix our broken food system.

Nikki Silvestri– She is a young African woman and the Executive Director of Green For All. An experienced public speaker, Nikki also provides thought leadership on the history and future of the food movement in venues such as Bioneers, the Environmental Grantmakers Association, Slow Food International, and the United Nations.  Her talk focused on what it means and what it takes to being a true ally in the food movement. She focused on four points:

  1. Reflect people back to themselves..let them understand why they need to and how they can help.

  2. Be with the movement embrace it and make it a part of your life not the whole of it. Build relationships first.

  3. Intention vs. impact Don’t get discouraged if the impact initially isn’t very visible.

  4. Responsibility without shame- same message as above. Be ready for initial setbacks or failures but don’t give up.

  5. And most importantly, celebrate success, as a family and as a group.

Peggy Neu: Peggy Neu is President of The Monday Campaigns, a public health initiative that encourages organizations and individuals to use Monday as the day to start and sustain healthy behaviors. Meatless Monday, the first campaign launched in 2003 with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg Schools of Public Health, has become a global movement. It is a simple concept of giving up meat once a week, on Mondays. It’s in media, restaurants, and schools, and even adapted world over by cities and countries. It seems to be a success because it’s simple and memorable and satisfies a growing human need- to reduce meat intake without too much sacrifice involved. Watch the inspiring talk here.

Ann Cooper: A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, NY. Ann has been a chef for more than 30 years. Ann is the author of four books. She also served on the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Organic Standards Board, a Congressional appointment, and was an Executive Committee member of Chefs Collaborative. In 2009, Ann founded Food Family Farming Foundation (F3) as a nonprofit focusing on solutions to the school food crisis. She believes a big positive transformation has happened in the area of school foods and the way to continue this is by teaching how to cook foods in school. Here's her TED talk.

Sunny Young: She is the winner of 2014’s TEDxManhattan Challenge. She is the director of Edufood Consulting LLC, a school food reform consulting firm, and program manager of Good Food for Oxford Schools (GFOS) in Oxford, MS, a project that combines farm to school initiatives, school gardens, and nutrition education. 

It is the first school food reform program of its kind in the state. Currently she’s creating widespread change by bringing lessons learned from Oxford’s programs to all of Mississippi. Some of the lessons she mentioned in her talk are as follows:

  • MS has the highest obesity rates in the country (40% of which are kids).

  • 40% of children in this state eat less than one fruit or vegetable per day

  • 74% of parents are not concerned about these statistics.

  • 90% of food is coming from outside of Mississippi even though agriculture is the state’s largest export.

  • To address this issue the GFO program works with school children in cafeterias, classrooms, and the communities to introduce good food to children through school food.

David Binkle: Born in Ontario, Canada, David Binkle has served as Director of Food Services at Los Angeles Unified School District since July 2012. He oversees a program that provides over 650,000 meals daily by a team of 4,000 employees.

He featured in a documentary Our Food Chain to be released in the fall of 2013. He will also appear in the critically acclaimed series Food Forward, a 13-episode PBS series on people who are changing the way Americans eat.

His talk focuses on how there is a solution to every food problem out there and most often the solution lies in action taken by us-common citizens.  By introducing healthier food choices for the school children in LA, they were able to change the food eating habits of those children.

Virginia Clark: She is the executive director of the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders (SAFSF), an international network of Grantmakers. SAFSF offers opportunities for shared learning and information exchange, collaboration, and seeks to increase philanthropic awareness of the issues as well as funding needs.  She gave a really inspiring talk that discussed various examples of solving food issues by giving-be it time, money, idea, or support. One of the examples discussed was a café in Denver, CO that believes in the slogan: good food for the greater good. Here, everyone and anyone can come and get a healthy, nutritious meal no matter the economic status. Another example highlighted the organization called Food Forward. Based in CA, Food Forward rescues fresh local produce that would otherwise go to waste, connecting this abundance with people in need, and inspiring others to do the same.

She ended her talk with this sage advice: Speak Up, Connect, Ask and Listen, Give Money, and Get Dirty. Lastly, stand in possibility; we have to believe in the possibility of changing the food system before we can make it happen.

Rep. Chellie Pingree: In Congress, Chellie has introduced the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act—a comprehensive package of reforms to agriculture policy that will expand opportunities for local and regional farmers and make it easier for consumers to have access to healthy foods. Chellie is still a small business owner today, owning and operating the Nebo Inn and Restaurant on North Haven, which features locally grown food. Her Ted Talk spoke about the recent farm bill as well steps we have taken and can take in the future to help keep the momentum going. Some facts she brought to light were that:

  • Food and vegetables are called specialty crops and the current farm bill only spend 269million on them..while corn, soya and what have 90 billion spent on this commodity crops (70 times more!)

  • She gave a wonderful variation of the new food plate where most of it (61%) of the plate is filled with corn and grain and only .45% with fruits and vegetables.

  • There has been an enormous growth in farmers markets

  • Hottest trend is supermarkets is growth in local and organic food

Dr. Regina Bernard-Carreno:She is a graduating pioneer of the African American Studies Master’s Degree Program at Columbia University. Along with researching and writing, Dr. Bernard-Carreno has been designing scholarly projects and community products based on food access in poor NYC areas. She gives a very direct and unabashed talk. She mentions subjects such as  ‘food apartheid’ and ‘food disparity’ that are faced by those living in poorer neighborhoods or as she says, ‘the hunt for food based on race, class and access in NYC.’ Growing food inspired by the Glenwood farm in Cold Spring is one approach she tries as well as roof-top farming.

Michael  Rozyne –He is Executive Director of Red Tomato, a non-profit produce ‘food hub’ based in Plainville, MA.

In 1986, he co-founded fair trade coffee company Equal Exchange, now a leading US fair trade company.

Rozyne started Red Tomato in 1996, to bring global fair trade principles to farmers in the US. His current obsession is finding a way to make local produce available in a grocery store near you.

His Ted Talk mentions how the agriculture food system, ‘Wasn’t designed to be healthy, fair, or sustainable. It was designed with three other goals in mind- durable, year round supply, and low-cost. ‘ Red Tomato is his offering of a solution to this problem. He talks about changing logistics and looking at local food in a new light.

Enjoy listening to all or any one of these talks.

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