Posted on

What I learned at TEDxManhattan: Changing the Way We Eat

I attended the TEDxManhattan conference on Changing the Way We Eat a little over a week ago, and below are the most interesting things I learned. (I also tweeted non-stop from the event, so there are lots of quotes there too). All the speakers were fantastic and passionate, and the 15 minute time limit on their talks really encouraged them to pare down, and focus on what is most important to them in the world of food right now. They showed that we all have something to contribute, however big or small.

I was overwhelmed with the feeling that even though the room was filled with 300+ people who spend their lives working hard to fix the broken food system, there is still SOOO MUCH to be done. Let’s get to it!

– Aurora Porter, Director of Marketing and Communications, Vital Farms

Simran Sethi, Journalist, Educator and Strategist

“75% of crop varieties have disappeared since 1900”
“1 company controls 90% of the food grown in the U.S.”

Food Chains Teaser from Sanjay Rawal on Vimeo.

Gary Hischberg, Chairman, Stonyfield Farm

“Progressive countries like Russia, China and Syria require labeling of GMOs but the U.S. does not.”
“Genetically engineered crops have increased herbicide use: 527 million pounds of herbicides have been used in the U.S. since 1996, after their use became more widespread.”

Tama Matsuoka Wong, Principal, Meadows and More

“The U.S. spends billions to eradicate weeds, but we can eat them!”
“Weeds are the ultimate opportunistic plants that can survive in any climate.”
“Weeds are nutrient dense and flavor rich, and many other cultures around the world pass a knowledge of foraging through generations.”

Stephen Ritz, Founder, Green Bronx Machine

“It’s easier to raise healthy children than to fix broken men!”

Anna Lappé, Founding Principal, Small Planet Institute

“The food industry spends $2 billion every year to market junk food to children and teens!”
“One kid sees an average of 4,600 ads on junk food a year, and African American teens are barraged with 80 percent more ads by the food industry than white kids. They are also more affected by diabetes and food related illness.”

Annemarie Colbin, Ph.D., Founder and CEO, Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts

“Fat is one of the three macronutrients that are very important to us. Screw low-fat diets!”
“The whole of nutrition and healthy eating cannot be understood by only studying its parts. There will never be a pill to replicate home-cooking!”

Peter Lehner, Executive Director, Natural Resources Defense Council

“40% of the food grown in the U.S. is not eaten, it is wasted. ¼ of all water used in the U.S. is used on crops that aren’t eaten.”

“We could feed all 50 million food insecure Americans their total diet if we reduced food waste by 1/3.”
“The average supermarket wastes 10% of their food. Stop & Shop saved $100 million last year by putting dummy layers under produce and other food and by not putting out as much food at a time.”

Maisie Greenwalt, Vice President of Strategy, Bon Appétit Management Company

“Their company serves 140 million meals a year”, and they launched their Farm2Fork initiative in 2009. They now source 20% of their ingredients from small farms within 150 miles of their food service area.
“One goal is to be the first food service company to not buy pork from gestation crates by 2015.” (They currently buy 7.5 million pounds of pork a year, and by making this commitment, they have promised to do something that does not yet exist in the marketplace).

Wendy Cohen screened the trailer to “A Place at the Table”

Anne Cooper, The Renegade Lunch Lady, Boulder Valley School District

“80 percent of antibiotics in the U.S. are used on animals, even when they’re not sick.”
“The CDC says that 1 in 3 kids born in the U.S. after 2000 will have diabetes in their lifetime.”
“It should be a birthright in this country that every child has a healthy and delicious meal at school and never goes hungry.”