Minnesota Food Bloggers heated up a frigid, Minnesota morning by hosting our first educational event on Saturday, January 21, 2012, at Minnesota History Center. Bloggers, farmers, food advocates, chefs, journalists, and concerned eaters gathered to view the morning session of the live TEDxManhattan: Changing the Way We Eat webcast.
The morning session's focus was sustainability. After the viewing, Minnesota Valley Country Club executive chef, Tour de Farm founder, host of In Search of Food, and local food advocate Scott Pampuch spoke to the group about the evolution of his thoughts, menus, and purchasing decisions at his restaurant Corner Table. Scott then joined a panel discussion with Barth Anderson of Fair Food Fight, Debbie Morrison of Sapsucker Farms, and myself, moderated by Brett Olson of Renewing the Countryside, to continue the conversation as a group.
Rather than recount the specific discussions, I asked a few participants to offer their thoughts about the event. Below are those impressions, followed by a short-n-sweet video overview. I'll lead off by saying: It is a ton of work pulling together an event like this. And yet, to me it is so very worth it to feel the energy of a group of passionate, smart people in the same room, people that have good and different ideas about how to change our food system, people that want and can offer specific ideas about what to do right now. There are already plans in process for future events so if you missed this one, stay tuned (subscribe to this blog, join the Minnesota Food Bloggers Facebook page, follow @MNFoodBloggers on Twitter).
The issue of sustainable food gets debated over and over again, yet seems to get very little attention in the press. Attending this TEDxManhattan viewing party opened my eyes as a food journalist as well as a citizen of the world. The Minnesota Food Bloggers group put together a well-rounded day, including a very engaging panel discussion that left me wanting to research the topic more. Well done, and hope there are more discussions to come on the topic of food sustainability. - Adam Estrum, food writer, WCCO TV
My main take-away from Saturday's event was how MUCH the population in general still has to be informed about factory farming, GMO's, antibiotics/chemicals in "cheap" food, etc. - there really can't be too much awareness at this point! I volunteer at an after-school center in North Minneapolis and see every week what the kids there are given for their snack time and it really hit home how important it is, not only to make informed food decisions for myself, but how do I participate in helping get fresh food to where it's needed most? - Lisa Nguyen, Making Electricity
Lots of talk. All very charming. Nothing new. I came away thinking that we need to solve this problem ourselves. There was a time when we planted gardens; when we helped feed our friends and family and they helped us. We need to go back to those roots. That 'can-do' attitude was what made us Americans. We need to turn out back on Big Ag to get their attention. No only is our food dangerous, but 1 our of 4 children go hungry. Help plant a community garden or neighborhood garden with your pals. Trade that extra loaf of bread for some homemade peanut butter. Learn to can and make your own sausage - it's easy and if you do it with others, it doesn't seem like work. Open your door, your heart, and your kitchen to the world and you will make change one plate at a time. - Nicole Mary Kelby, author White Truffles in Winter
Thanks for the party Minnesota Food Bloggers! TedXManhattan brought together so many folks with different food relationships. That was powerful. The conversation was lively and honest. If they locked us in the room, gave us food and water, we could've talked for hours learning from each other and developing some awesome strategies to change the way we, Minnesotans, eat. So who wants to get together again?!?! I sure do. - Meghan Likes, National Cooperative Grocers Association
I learned so much about where I stand on food issues. By the end of the day I realized that I am an activist, and I want to make a difference in two ways: Get people healthier by eating real food and make the world a more sustainable place. I want to learn more and get involved! Everyone should! - Val Stanley, Tofu Surprise
Although all of the discussions were engaging and educational, the points that resonated deepest with me are that bacteria are becoming immune to antibiotics at a rate like never before; that 80% of all antibiotics are used in agriculture; and that instead of changing the practices that breed disease, the problem is addressed with antibiotics. The "wow" factor? The analogy photograph of human babies crammed together. - Dave Ostlund, Direct Line Services
It's unbelievable to think that we live and participate in a community where a conversation of this magnitude can take place on this scale. It's undeniably special that we have people here who are extremely knowledgeable and that they are willing to share that knowledge with all those who seek it. It's through these events, these people, that the information surrounding our broken food system will start to gain weight. - Keane Amdahl, Food Stoned
I loved that you guys provided this opportunity to not only view the morning session, but have a discussion about it. Dr. Rangan once again blew me away with her ability to connect to us on the level. She's brilliant and we need to hear more from her. Wenonah was powerful as well and immediately had me reassessing my purchasing. The 11-year old seemed too gimmicky, too coached. My 11-year old thought it was cool though. - Josh Nelson, Minnesota Zoo, Fish Smart Program
It was inspiring for me to see so many passionate people who really want to make a difference in changing the way we eat. The food system is broken, but we as individuals have lots of choices. By making one small choice at a time, we can collectively make a huge difference. As a small-scale farmer, I am thrilled to see such tremendous support for the work that we do. - Debbie Morrison, Sapsucker Farms
I really liked when the first audience question was asked: Are there ways to get good food into low income "food deserts?" I jumped in saying, "If we're going to talk about food access, then, first, we gotta talk about price," and half the audience started nodding YES, and from there we went right into classicism and the failings of capitalism, and I remember thinking, Wow, these people are eagerly willing to talk about revolution and food on a freezing Saturday morning? This is so totally my crowd. - Barth Anderson, Fair Food Fight
For me an event like TEDxManhattan is like sharing a great meal with friends - I'm nourished by so many people believing in similar things meeting each other, seeing possibilities. So who are we inviting to the next meal? - Scott Pampuch, Minnesota Valley Country Club, Tour de Farm, In Search of Food
Huge thanks to Minnesota History Center, Minnesota Monthly magazine, and TCFoodFinds. Thanks also to Meghan Likes and Molly McNeil for taking photographs (see them all here on Facebook), and to Nick Zdon for the video below.
Fair Food Fight
At Escoffier's Table
TEDxManhattan: Changing the Way We Eat Viewing, Panel Discussion & Reception from Minnesota Food Bloggers on Vimeo.