Thursday, May 21, 2009

Future of Food Conference at Boston University

SFBU had the pleasure of attending and helping out at the Future of Food Conference held May 8th and 9th at the BU Law School.

The conference, which was organized by the Institute of Human Sciences, served as a forum for professionals interested in the global issues of food and sustainability, to highlight some of the current problems with our food systems, and suggest possible futures. IHS organized this conference in response to the growing concerns of local communities in both the US and Europe over the global food crisis, and presented a dialogue about what can be done to stem it. Participants gathered to see how they could shape the the current food system into something that is sustainable, and safeguards cultural and biodiversity, while providing safe, healthy food for all citizens both now and in the future.

Friday, May 8th, included the lecture and workshop "Wild Fermentation" by Sandor Ellix Katz, followed by another lecture and cooking demo with Bryant Terry. The day ended with a screening of King Corn, introduced by filmmaker and followed by a discussion with director, Aaron Woolf.

Saturday featured 5 panel discussions, starting at 9am and running until 9 pm. The panels addressed a myriad of issues, including food production, agribusiness, food security, food safety, climate change, and the ethics of eating.

Satish Kumar, nuclear disarmament advocate and editor of Resurgence Magazine, gave an excellent keynote address, and also spoke on the panel about the ethics of eating. Kumar is well known for his having accomplished an over 8,000 mile Peace Walk through the capitals of nuclear superpowers-America, England, France and Russia.

While he shared many interesting insights on the issue of food sovereignty, his statement, "If you don't have enough time to bake Bread, you don't have enough time to Live," seemed to strike a particular chord with conference participants.

Other presenters of note were Mark Winne, author of Closing the Food Gap; Tim Wise, director of Research and Public Policy at Tufts Global Development and Environment Institute; Benedikt Haelin, president of Save our Seeds; Jim Harkness, President of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy; Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of Center for Food Safety; Helena Norberg-Hodge, founder of International Society for Ecology and Culture; Sandor Ellix Katz, author of Wild Fermentation and the Revolution Will not be Microwaved, Harriet Lamb, executive Director of Fair Trade Foundation, and finally Michael Ableman, farmer and author of Fields of Plenty.

Another interesting topic that was touched upon in discussion by the third panel was the GMO debate. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists report "Failure to Yield" by Doug Gurian-Sherman, genetically engineered crops do not in actuality increase yields! See the press release here.

It was helpful to compare and contrast US food policy and reports with those from other places, especially from the EU. There was so much information to absorb, and the presenters were very knowledgeable and approachable!

Of course there were multiple coffee breaks, and breakfast and lunch were provided-with lots of things to nibble on. Fair Trade Coffee, hummus, and vegan cookies galore! Also Taza Chocolate had a booth, as did Gnosis Chocolate.

A video of the entire conference will be available on the website soon so that you can shape your future of food and eat the revolution!!!

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