The Future of Food
We are organizing these events in response to the growing concerns of local communities in the United States and Europe over matters of health, the environment, and the economy. The conference takes the growing global food crisis as a starting point and asks key stakeholders to imagine a different future. Our working hypothesis is that the current food crisis is systemic in nature and solutions from the past (more markets, more regulation, etc.) will not allow the global food system to evolve in a sustainable way. The situation calls for innovations in infrastructure and re-thinking how food is grown, shipped, and distributed locally, regionally, and globally. How can we foster a global food system that safeguards cultural and biodiversity while providing safe and nourishing food for all citizens?
Cultures, historically, have possessed deeply rooted traditions around food; the industrialization of agriculture and the globalization of the food chain disrupt traditions, obscuring the relationship between humans and their environment. As Eric Schlosser, author of the popular American book Fast Food Nation, points out, there has been more change in the way we eat in the last 30 years than in the previous 30,000. Our conference explores the consequences of this sweeping transformation on both sides of the Atlantic, with particular attention to its implications for culture. Is there a relationship, as the American poet Wendell Berry suggests, between the modernization of agriculture and the degradation of culture? Does the erosion of biodiversity, for example, pose a threat to cultural diversity?
The panels are not intended to be exhaustive, but to introduce people to some key issues and to encourage them to think more consciously about the food they buy and eat. Increasingly, food choices are ethical and political choices. Deciding what to eat is therefore one way in which citizens, at least in most of Europe and the United States, can “vote with their forks.”