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Food for Thought at 'Future' Conference

Nutrition, Sustainability

There was an incredible amount of brain power at the May 4 "Future of Food" conference at Georgetown University. (Watch video of the speakers here.) Some of the world's most important thinkers on the subject of food politics -- including Marion Nestle, Eric Schlosser, Will Allen and Vandana Shiva, not to mention the Prince of Wales -- shared (all too briefly, in my opinion) their thoughts on what we need to do to revolutionize our domestic and global food systems. And a revolution is what's needed. As Eric Schlosser stated in his opening remarks, the current centralized, industrialized system of food production is broken. And, as with many social problems, the impact is greatest on the working poor and people of color. One message was made crystal clear: We cannot count on government or industry to make the necessary changes to support sustainable agriculture, improve access to healthy food in low-income communities, and strengthen food labeling and safety. That change can only result from consumer demand. We must vote with our forks, as the saying goes. For example, when we seek lower prices for food, we are causing downward pressure on wages and benefits for farm laborers and others along the food chain. It's easy to lose sight of something like this when we're rushing through the grocery aisles in haste to put dinner together. But it's something to think about. Some of the most successful social movements began at the individual and community levels. Start in your own home, and inspire your friends and neighbors. We know what to do: Plant vegetables. Start a compost pile. Recycle faithfully. Try meatless days. Drive less and walk more. Shop at farmers' markets. As we make these small changes, corporate America will notice and respond. Think about how rare it was to see organic produce and fresh herbs in grocery stores a decade ago. And now it's commonplace. See, it's already working.  

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