Everyone has to eat, so it's no wonder why food is the one sustainability issue that grabs the attention of the general public. And whether your issue is school lunches, animal welfare, genetically modified crops or simply that you love to cook with farm-fresh produce, TEDx Manhattan's "Changing the Way We Eat" has you covered.
On Saturday, Colorado Mountain College will live-stream "Changing the Way We Eat" via a webcast in its Edwards auditorium from 8:30 a.m. to 3:35 p.m. with breaks and discussion in between. The webcast is free.
You've probably heard the cool kids talk about TED, but for those who have yet to experience it, TED is a nonprofit devoted to "ideas worth spreading." TED believes passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world, according to its website. Two annual TED conferences bring together the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers who are then challenged to give the "talk of their lives" in 18 minutes or less in front of a live audience. And the best talks of these conferences are available for free online.
The TEDx programs are similar to its biannual conferences, but are organized independently and designed to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level. (TED conference tickets run from $4,000-$7,000 each.)
At TEDx events, video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussions usually on a particular topic, in Saturday's case, food. Small groups around the country watch the main event (this time in Manhattan) live and break to have individual conversations about what they just heard, sometimes Tweeting about it to join the global discussion.
Issue, impact and innovation
Diane Hatz, a TEDster and nationally recognized sustainable food advocate, organized TEDx Manhattan's "Changing the Way We Eat." She hopes that viewers will come away with a better appreciation of the complexity of the food system at Saturday's event, and with a better understanding of how many people are working on different facets of food.
"I hope that people will feel inspired by all the great work that is being done around the country and will be motivated to change the way they eat in their local community by something as simple as changing some of their food choices or as involved as joining a local sustainable food group," Hatz said.
"Changing the Way We Eat" is organized by three categories - issue, impact and innovation - making it easy for viewers to pop in during the all-day webcast and catch talks that really interest them. Speakers will cover the general issues surrounding a sustainable food system, such as factory farming, antibiotic resistance, labeling and the local food market. They'll cover the various impacts of certain issues, both good and bad, including the impacts of immigrant farming and the impacts of teaching kids to grow their own food in schools, and viewers will get to meet the people leading innovation in our food system.
Todd Rymer, director of culinary education at Colorado Mountain College, helped organized the local viewing. Rymer said he's most excited to hear chef Arthur Potts Dawson talk about his vision for sustainable restaurants (he's already leading the pack with his eco-friendly London restaurants) and to hear Cara Rosaen talk about her online system, Real Time Farms, for restaurant-goers to find out where their food came from.
"As the dynamic concept of sustainable restaurants has evolved from seasonal to local to hyper-local and socially enlightened, it will be interesting to hear Dawson's vision for sustainable restaurants," Rymer said. "Likewise, rapidly evolving apps that allow consumers in restaurants and grocery stores to evaluate the sustainability of the food potentially will have a huge impact on consumer education and behavior."
Hatz said everyone on the program has something interesting to say, but she's especially excited to hear South Bronx teacher and administrator Stephen Ritz talk about his edible food walls and how he's not just feeding his students, but he's providing them with living wages and has increased attendance dramatically in his school.
"The talks are important to the day, but equally as important is what happens during the break," Hatz said. "People make connections and meet others that they wouldn't normally meet. Some interesting projects have come out of connections that were made at events."
Freelance writer Cassie Pence owns Organic Housekeepers, a green cleaning company, and is actively involved in the EagleVail Community Garden, the Eagle Valley Alliance for Sustainability and Slow Food Vail Valley. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.