The live webcast of the Healthy Food, Healthy Planet Conference in Washington DC was held today, October 26, 2011 from 8:30 to 10:30 am. The Honorable Tom Vilsack, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary, joined a panel of experts for an engaging discussion on new paradigms for ensuring a future of enough food for our growing population while maintaining a healthy planet.
By the end of this year, projections estimate that the world’s population will reach seven billion people, growing to nine billion by 2050. That is a lot of mouths to feed. In order to do this, food production will need to grow 70-100 percent during a time of uncertain environmental changes, destabilized agri-foods market and continued global economic turmoil.
The Secretary kicked off the session speaking for 10 minutes about Healthy Food, Healthy Planet concerns. Vilsack supported the MyPlate icon as a simple graphic that gives you a sense of what a balanced, healthy meal should look like.
Matthew Cooper, editor of National Journal Daily then moderated the all male panel asking questions of sustainability, malnutrition, food security and environmental impact with an emphasis on how to feed a growing planet.
Meet the Panel
- John Reilly, BCFN Advisory Board Member, senior lecturer, MIT Sloan School of Management, co-director, Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, Center for Environmental Policy Research
- Ken Cook, president and co-Founder, Environmental Working Group
- The Honorable Dan Glickman, former secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture; senior fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center
- Corby Kummer, senior editor, The Atlantic
Ken Cook agreed with Reilly that eating good food was good for the planet adding, “Organic is now a 30 billion dollar business in this country.” Cook pointed out that thanks to stores like Whole Foods, Safeway and Walmart, organic food demand will increase production. He acknowledged that so far, “We’re not doing a good job in matching production.” And, "We are under investing in organic." Cook encouraged continued open dialog with regards to the farm bill and that the Food Stamp program is the bills top priority. Further along in the discussion when Cooper asked Cook what he would change if he could. He said, “I would use the school lunch program. Educate them early on. It would support thousands of farmers to grow more fruits and vegetables.”
Former USDA secretary Dan Glickman brought up as he called it, “The enormous problem of obesity.” This was apparent to him while on a recent trip to Disney. “This is not a simple solution,” he said. Glickman mentioned how food and nutrition get more focus in schools than physical activity. When asked what would he change if he could. Glickman responded, “To try and relieve poverty.” He added, “I’d have a research agenda to help meet climate change, drought, disease and pests.”
Corby Kummer chimed in about obesity, citing sugared beverages as one measure to consider. In the case of organic foods, Kummer thought that organic is safer for the health of the earth and for farm workers. He was all for helping small farmers to continue to make a living. Kummer said a priority for him was getting fruits and vegetables into the hands of people in need.
Glickman concluded that for the first time in history we can expect to see more and more input and conversion about food and climate change.
The Farm Bill Oregon Dietetic Association
USDA Ag Secretary Vilsack's 2012 Farm Bill priorities
Wildlife and the Farm Bill
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
Learn about the Farm Bill
"Covering much more than just farms, the federal Food, Conservation and Energy Act (Public Law 110-246), or Farm Bill for short, is a wide-ranging package of laws governing food, fiber, nutrition assistance, conservation, energy, rural development and other related policies. Since its initial passage in 1933, a new iteration of the Farm Bill has been reauthorized every four to six years. Natural resource conservation made its first major appearance in the 1985 bill."
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