New York is, without a doubt, one of the best places to live for people who love food. Of course, our bagels, pizza and Italian pastries are legendary, but the Big Apple is finally starting to live up to its name as it becomes a pioneer in the promotion of real food. That status is assuredly helped by TEDx Manhattan’s 2015 theme: “Changing the Way We Eat.”
On March 7, the fifth annual edition of TEDx Manhattan took place, with viewing parties cropping up around the world. One of the most delectable of these celebrations was hosted by New York’s Natural Gourmet Institute (NGI), a culinary school that teaches future chefs that the best cuisine is made with what nature gives us. It was a match made in heaven: As talks from some of the region’s best and brightest food experts were broadcasted live on a big screen, NGI’s chefs were continually preparing a feast of truffle popcorn, homemade hummus, sesame cookies and – stop drooling – reality.
When those of us in attendance weren’t snacking, we were either shaking our heads or standing up to applaud; TEDx Manhattan 2015 was, if nothing else, an exercise in truth. The day was occasionally injected with humor, with quips like Tom Colicchio’s eloquent introduction to the funny-but-painfully-honest “Meatrix Relaunched” cartoon (yes, you read that correctly, and can watch it here). Above all, this year’s TEDx Manhattan talks left us with a unified thought: “Changing the food system could be so easy, if everyone just gave a little bit more of an eff.”
Well, here’s your chance to pay attention. They ugly sides of the current food industry can run, but with the help of such brilliant speakers, they’re running out of places to hide.
1. “[O]ne thing that will never change: We need to be restored. We human beings so crave being restored and restoring, giving hospitality, and receiving hospitality.” Danny Meyer – CEO, Union Square Hospitality Group
2. “The pain that keeps me up at night is also the possibility that gets me up in the morning. … What would it mean to have a vision of the food movement that is as deep as the problem? How can we break through big, structural problems with bold, structural solutions? And by leadership, here, I’m talking about leadership from the ground up, not the top down.” Anim Steel – Founder, Real Food Generation
3. “[O]rganic saves money, is less expensive [to grow], can produce as much or more food, is more profitable, and is scaling. Then, what the? What the heck is organic food so expensive? And the answer is because the demand for organic food is growing even faster. We need organic, sustainably managed cropland in this country to increase dramatically.” Ali Partovi – Entrepreneur, investor and co-founder of Code.org
4. “[J]ustice and fairness aren’t a given, even when dealing with an agency whose mandate it is to protect public health and the environment. Rather, it’s something that we constantly have to fight for. I…quit my job at the EPA, because I couldn’t do my job, and now, I sue them.” Michele Merkel – Co-director, Food & Water Watch
5. “You’ve got a food industry that’s duping you, every day, and you’re buying into it. You’ve got a government whose regulations on our food system are sub-par, and you have credible health professionals on morning shows talking about healthy breakfasts including a peanut butter filled with trans fats and tons of sugar. Please, become a skeptical shopper.” Stefanie Sacks – Culinary nutritionist and author of “What the Fork Are You Eating?”
6. “Our children’s health is not, and should not be a partisan issue. There is nothing democrat, and there is nothing republican, about making sure that our healthy school lunches match scientific recommendations.” Deb Eschemeyer – Co-founder, FoodCorps
Additional videos from TEDx Manhattan 2015 can be viewed here.
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