The Politics of Food Conference in New York City
Consumers want to know more about how and where their food is produced and want options and information about farming practices and technology that impacts their food purchase. Farmers want to serve customers with high quality, wholesome food products yet are often by increasing consumer demands on farming practices and technology.
What is needed is open dialogue and understanding between farmers and consumers. That what the 2017 Politics of Food Conference held in New York City in November was all about.
Hosted by City & State , the day brought together thought leaders, chefs, dieticians, and farmers, to discuss all forms of food programs, sustainability and policy issues in New York. The conference featured a panel discussion between farmers and nutritionists who talked about the science behind food production in New York.
Speakers included Toby Amidor, MS RD who is the author of Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook & The Greek Yogurt Kitchen and nutrition expert on the Food Network, Jessica Levinson, MS, RDN, CDN, a nationally recognized nutrition expert with a focus on culinary nutrition and communications, Jessica Ziehm, a Dairy Farmer from Tiashoke Farm in Buskirk, NY, Jim Davenport a Dairy Farmer from Tollgate Holsteins in Acramdale, NY and John Mueller from Willow Bend Farm in Clifton Springs, NY.
All speakers discussed the end goal: getting nutritious food to people who need it. Unfortunately, due to misinformation, , many consumers are horribly confused about modern farming technologies such as genetic modification. The reality is that farming innovations are enabling farmers to produce high quality, nutritious, sustainable and safe products –which is something everyone should be on board with.
“Agriculture is such an exciting field right now,” explained Ziehm. “The advice that I would give my friends who are moms is, just buy milk, just the regular old milk. It’s a highly regulated product and there really is no difference between organic and conventional milk.”
Speaking to the fact that many consumers will only purchase organic products, nutrition expert Levinson commented. “Many consumers misunderstand why and how farming techniques have evolved and have irrational biases against some of these products. The reality is that modern technology is responsible for helping to put quality, wholesome products on New Yorker’s plates.”
Amidor concurred, “I’m pro-choice when it comes to produce. Choose to eat it—don’t worry about all the labels—GMO, non-GMO, organic…just get those nutrients into you and your family—they’re all the same!
In addition, farmers explained that a key component of modern farming is humane treatment and tender care for working animals.
“Cow comfort is a huge part of our farm. A happy healthy cow is a productive cow,” said Mueller explaining how his farm is able to produce 25,000 gallons of milk a day.
In addition to producing quality milk, new technologies are enabling farmers to protect the environment.
“We gotta do the best that we can to be good stewards of the land. We need to make sure that we are constantly improving the land to make it more productive and sustainable,” said Muller.
In addition to the panel discussion, the film FOOD EVOLUTION produced by Trace Sheehan was also shown during the conference.
FOOD EVOLUTION shows how easily misinformation, confusion and fear can overwhelm objective analysis about the food system. The film debunks the myth that GMOs are harmful and shows how that false narrative is hurting the planet.
The conference served as a successful forum to further the discussion consumers and farmers about the food we eat.