Hi friends! I’m writing today from New York, where I’ve spent the past day and a half learning about food and public health at the annual James Beard Food Conference. I’ve met some of my favorite food heroes, connected with amazing folks in the food movement, and thought a lot about how we can make the American food system healthier and more equitable.
There were so many amazing panelists and speakers crammed into the past 36 hours, that I’m honestly a little overwhelmed at where to begin. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that I’ve been feverishly live tweeting, while taking healthy doses of time to just sit and listen. Check out my tweets from the conference here!
A large portion of yesterday’s line up focused on the health issues related to sugar consumption. We watched clips from the new film Fed Up, and discussed sugar consumption in relation to obesity and diabetes with Laurie David, executive producer of the film, Dr. Robert Lustig, who is a prominent researcher of this issue, as well as Marion Nestle, author of Food Politics and NYU Professor and Corby Kummer, Senior Editor of the Atlantic. I told you it was an all-star cast, right?
What surprised me the most about the conference, in a good way, was that the James Beard Foundation was honest and transparent about all of their initiatives, and their funding and sponsorships were in line with what they preach. Good, healthy food for people and for the planet. Unlike the last food conference I attended in D.C. where the corporate sponsors were Walmart and Monsanto. –> link to monstanto owned foods post
The conference also surprised me in the multi-faceted approaches to food and health, the inclusion of diverse communities as well as a strong emphasis on equity in the food system. My introduction to the food movement has always come from a place of justice and equity since working with issues of urban farming and food access. The food system is f’d up because we can’t feed our communities healthy and affordable food. I’m really happy that conversation was pushed to the forefront of the dialogue, instead of as an after-thought.
We heard from Architectural designers from Harvard, who are re-inventing the way we think about space and food, we heard from the big shots like Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman, we also got to hear a whole lot from doctors, who are often missing from the conversation. Doctors of all kinds spoke out at the James Beard conference, and wanted to partner with food folks. I would be remiss to not mention the recent launch of Tulane University’s culinary program specifically designed for medical students. So go check that out.
I think what I’m getting at is that the James Beard Food Conference really went above and beyond my expectations. I’ve always revered the Foundation for their recognition of chefs and good food, but JBF really proved themselves a leader in the food movement.
I’m going to share a couple more posts from the conference in the coming days, but I wanted to check in and let you know where I’ve been. Next stop is Sacramento to visit U.C. Davis Agriculture Program, and then a lovely Halloween weekend with my girlfriends in the Bay Area!
Thanks so much to the James Beard Foundation for a wonderful and thought provoking conference!