Last week, on Earth Day, I had the great opportunity to spend the day learning about the future of sustainable food. The, What is Sustainable Food? Summit, was put together by the OSU chapter of Net Impact and Local Matters.
The goal of the summit was to discuss:
- What sustainable food is.
- The future of sustainable food.
- What people are doing to support the effort.
- Local businesses who focus on running a greener business.
It was an all day summit starting at 9am and running until 3pm. The event was put on for free and everyone was welcome to attend. This event was also a Zero Waste event meaning that everything used for food was either compostable or recycleable.
Attendees were also encouraged to bring their own water bottles and coffee mugs.
The summit was held in the 4H building at OSU. I didn’t get a chance to chat with anyone about the building so unfortunately I can’t provide any stats on it. I do know that it’s a new building and it’s OSU’s first green building on campus.
One of the presenters at the summit was Warren Taylor from Snowville Creamery. I was excited to see some Snowville half and half provided for the morning coffee. Real half and half is a nice treat to have in my coffee every so often and if I’m going to do it, then I would prefer it to be from Snowville!
The first speaker was Ken Meter who is from Minnesota. He’s been doing research on sustainable food and the farming efforts across the country. He was pleased by the efforts he has seen in Ohio and gave some great examples of people who are striving to make a difference.
He talked about:
- What does sustainable food mean.
- Where the country is now in terms of food sources.
- Where it needs to go to become better.
It was an extremely informative lecture! Not only did it provide information on what America needs to do in terms of creating a better food supply, it also discussed how big businesses are in charge of deciding the current diet.
Next up was a panel discussion:
- Jill Clark – Director Center for Farmland Policy Innovation
- Jeff Sharp – Professor of Rural Sociology
- Carol Goland – the Executive Director of OEFFA (I’ve discussed OEFFA previously.).
They each discussed what sustainable food means to them and then answered questions from the audience. One interesting point they brought up was that the majority of people think our current food system is fine so they don’t consider changing it or seeing a need to change it.
For example, people go to the store where they can purchase everything in one place, and then they go home. It’s easy and convenient therefore they don’t take the time to consider where that food comes from, how it was processed/grown, and how that could directly impact their health.
This is a great point and definitely explains why people are still purchasing factory farmed meat and strawberries from Peru at their local grocery store.
We broke for lunch which was provided by Two Caterers and I was pleased to see there were some vegetarian options available.
After lunch we heard from a panel of local businesses who are striving to create and improve, best green practices.
On the panel was:
- Amy Brennick – COO of Betty’s Group of Restaurants
- Mike Minnix – Eartha Limited
- Michael Jones – Director of Local Matters and Owner of Greener Grocer
- Adam Welly – Owner of Wayward Seed Farm
They discussed a lot about their current efforts to be more earth friendly and also brought up goals that each of them have for the current year. Amy said that Betty’s Group is going to try and become a zero waste group by the end of the year.
For restaurants to become zero waste is a pretty big deal. I’m excited to see how this progresses and what it means for other restaurants in Columbus.
The last speaker, was Warren and he talked about the fight for sustainable food. How the government isn’t going to support this effort because it would mean money missing from their wallets. The government and big corporations don’t care about your health or your right to quality food. They care about money.
It was a pretty intense talk and drove home the fact that we all need to start caring about our food supply a little more because it not only will help us but help future generations.
At the end of the conference I was lucky enough to be able to sample some of Snowville’s new chocolate milk that they are now distributing and selling. It’s AMAZING! Easily the best chocolate milk I have ever had. If you’re going to consume dairy, go local and support Snowville (this goes for you too, Cleveland and Cincy!).
The summit provided a great deal of food for thought and I was very happy that I had the chance to attend. I hope that there are more events like this around Columbus to help raise awareness of the concept of sustainable food and supporting local businesses.