Food policy players large and small met this week at The Atlantic’s Food Summit in Washington, D.C. In attendance were chefs, including Alice Waters of Chez Panisse and Jose Andres of ThinkFoodGroup, and lawmakers such as Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., and FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods Michael Taylor. The recurring theme of the day is that there is a food crisis, and to fully address the issue, every interested group — children, parents, teachers, doctors, advocacy groups, food makers and many others — must all have a seat at the table. Here are some of the highlights:
Jose Andres on the global food crisis: “America and the world need an entity that is separated from everything else that will somehow bring together policy, the money to pay for those policies, social, research and development — all the issues surrounded by food issues — and we don’t have that governing body … Sooner or later, one day the governments of the world will realize that we need an entity, not big in scope. Small but powerful, with a true right arm to implement change.”
Rep. Jim McGovern on food security: “This is a national security issue. People who are hungry tend to live in countries that become unstable. People who don’t have access to water and food move to other areas, sometimes wars break out … People who are hungry and believe there is no future are more likely to be recruited into terrorism. … I think people need to be told of the connections between our national security and the issue of food security.”
Michael Taylor on the Food Safety Modernization Act: “What is really striking about this law is that the community, the industry and consumer components in the industry and a bipartisan group in Congress really came together and said it’s time to address this in a modern and preventive way … The law is historic in a sense that it really does represent a fundamental paradigm shift of this primary reliance on reacting to problems after they occur to building in preventive measures at each step of the way from farm and processing transport all the way through retail.”
Alice Waters on how we can help our children: “There was a time not long ago when just about everyone on earth had to spend the better part of their lives hunting and gathering and growing food. And just about everyone had to spend a good part of their day cooking and sharing food with some kind of extended family. But now food is longer integrated into the everyday experience as part of our culture … We tend to think of food as our own private fuel and less as an occasion for coming together … If the universal and free school lunch were offered, and the students got involved themselves, following the food from the garden to the kitchen to the table, doing the work themselves, something amazing can happen. They will all want to taste test, they will get lured into something beautiful, something that smells good, something that appeals to all of their senses. We know they are hungry for food, but even more than that, they are hungry for someone to care about them, and this happens naturally when they sit down and share real food at the table.”
Did you attend this year’s #AtlanticFood Summit? Share your thoughts in the comments.