New York Times recently convened several foremost thinkers and outspoken proponents of the food movement at the incredibly beautiful Stone Barns Center to explore questions on providing healthy food for our nation’s current population as well as in the future. The cast of speakers ranged from well-known journalists like Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman, to well-known chefs, like Tom Colicchio and Mario Batali, to non-profit leaders like Kellee James and Patrick Holden, to professionals, researchers and academics like Kristy Del Coro, Dr. Julie Mennella and Marion Nestle and too many other inspirational thinkers to name.
NY Times did an excellent job of cataloging the event through videos, and we encourage everyone to hop on the NY Times Food for Tomorrow site to get caught up. The conference was organized around panel discussions, and while they were all worthy of note, there are two we wanted to highlight.
So often we focus on the importance of local food (and don’t get us wrong, it is of the utmost importance) but it is also important to expand our vision to thinking about the world as a whole. Reporter Justin Gills led a panel entitled “Global Overview: Feeding the World, Sustaining the Global Food Economy” comprised of global thinkers Dr. Peter H. Gleick, president, Pacific Institute; Salman Hussain, coordinator, United Nations Environment Program; Kathleen Merrigan, former U.S. deputy secretary of agriculture; and Raj Patel, writer, activist, academic, author of Stuffed and Starved.
Gills opens with the question, “If you had the chance to fix the global food system, what would you change about it?” Peter Gleick responds that the way to solve food system problems along with the other major problems of our time is to make the connections between food and these other problems. He points to the bottle of water provided by the conference, in New York, which came from Arkansas:
Food, water, climate, energy, is all represented in a way in this disconnect. This idea that we have to move water around. The idea that a commercial brand is better than the potable water down the hill.”
Michael Pollan moderated another panel that tackled the global food question from a different perspective: looking at how food is grown. “Can Sustainable Scale — And How?” brought together a group who view the economy from vastly different perspectives. Representing the small-holder, agro-ecological viewpoint: Dani Nierenberg, president of Food Tank, and Patrick Holden, director of the Sustainable Food Trust. Representing big business: Ron Shaich, CEO of Panera Bread, and Jack Sinclair, executive vice president of the grocery division at Walmart.
As the world continues to work to understand and solve the problems, solutions, and connections that need to be made to bring us towards a more sustainable future, we are emboldened to know that conferences like this are bringing people into one room and galvanizing the movement.
Food For Tomorrow via The New York Times
Panel Discussion: Global Overview: Feeding the World, Sustaining the Global Food Economy via The New York Times Conferences
Can Sustainable Scale — and How? via The New York Times Conferences
Read all articles by Damon Cory-Watson