By Ayrel Clark-Proffitt, Sustainability Resource Center
Where can you learn about food justice, the value of bruised vegetables, and how to provide health education through art and hip hop in one place?
At the Marriott Library, or any venue live screening TEDx Manhattan’s fifth annual “Changing the Way We Eat” symposium this Saturday. The U library will host the webcast from 9:30 am to 4 pm in the Gould Auditorium, located on the first floor of the library. Attendees are invited to pop in, bring lunches, and network with other members of the crowd throughout the day of inspiring talks about sustainable food and farming that highlight new initiatives and unveil innovative solutions for shortcomings in the world’s food systems. The event is free and open to the public.
The live viewing party is thanks to the efforts of Wasatch Cooperative Market, which partnered with the U of U Sustainability Resource Center and the Marriott Library, as well as Salt Lake City Sustainability Division, Slow Food Utah, and Wasatch Community Gardens, to broadcast “Changing the Way We Eat.” In addition to the screening, local groups will present throughout the day on topics such as dining with discretion, beekeeping, and the value of cooperative markets.
This is the first time Wasatch Cooperative Market has participated in screening TEDx Manhattan, a one-day annual event that brings together key experts in sustainable food systems. Barbara Pioli, Wasatch Cooperative Market development coordinator and board member, says that the co-op is “committed to education and the sharing of information.”
“When we were approached by TEDx Manhattan to participate, it made sense that we accepted their invitation. The cooperative movement is a worldwide phenomenon. Linking with this international symposium demonstrates our engagement on the world stage, while providing Utahns the latest information and ideas about food systems,” says Pioli.
Erin Olschewski, a sustainability ambassador at the U and one of the event’s coordinators, says it is important to constantly evaluate how we produce, distribute, and consume food.
“I have seen some incredibly inspiring and empowering food work happening here in Salt Lake City, both on and off the University of Utah campus,” says Olschewski, noting the Salt Lake Food Policy Task Force, Sustainable Salt Lake Plan 2015, the University of Utah’s commitment to the Real Food Challenge, and the number of nonprofits in the Salt Lake-area working on food justice. Overall, though, Utah has room for improvement, she says.
Pioli thinks interest in food sustainability is growing in Salt Lake City.
“We do see a growing interest in food, or maybe a better term is curiosity. People think it is a good idea, but changing their behavior is another matter. With more education and opportunity, it seems like interest will only increase,” she says.
More than a dozen speakers at this year’s TEDx Manhattan event will tackle the full spectrum of the food and farming challenges facing the world during Saturday’s event. Topics to be discussed will include:
- The necessity of women farmers in the local food movement;
- Food as medicine;
- Teaching students about health through hip-hop;
- Why organic food isn’t really any more expensive than conventional food;
- How small changes in your eating habits can make big differences.
While excited about many of the day’s talks, Pioli is most interested in the presentations on why organic food costs more, what cities can do to build local food economies, and food distribution. Olschewski says she is excited to see Anim Steel, executive director and co-founder of Real Food Challenge, because of the U’s commitment to 20 percent real food by 2020.
“I look forward to what he has to say about the process that led him to create this holistic and integrated food organization and his goals for the future of our food system,” she says.
Pioli hopes the TEDx Manhattan broadcast and information provided by local groups helps more people become passionate about food and find new ways to engage locally.
“Food is so central in our lives,” she says. “I hope people discover ways to build community through food—whether it is when shopping for food, gardening with other people or preparing and sharing a meal.”
Ayrel Clark-Proffitt is the education and outreach coordinator for the Sustainability Resource Center.