Food Systems: Our food does not just appear in a restaurant or a supermarket; it has to get there, somehow. How is our current food system doing us a disservice, and what can we do to improve upon it? In this panel, professionals in the food industry as well as advocates for food justice will share experiences working toward a better food system.
Tanya Fields is a working mother from Bronx, New York. In 2006, she quit her day job in the corporate sector to become a full time activist for food justice and local farming. In doing so, she created her own organization called The BLK Projek to help underserved women of color by creating women-led economic development opportunities. In her attempts to construct an urban farm on a piece of underdeveloped New York City Parks land as well as other underdeveloped land in the South Bronx, she is shaking up the NYC borough from the earth up. Currently, Fields is not only still solidifying space for the Libertad Urban Farm but working on creating a women-led cooperative food business - a mobile market that run would provide residents of the South Bronx organic produce and support local growers. These opportunities give underserved women the chance to build community with other woman, learn in workshops and gain skills.
Anthony Fassio is the Chair of Slow Food NYC, an international organization that works to create a food system based on the principles of high quality and taste, environmental sustainability, and social justice—in essence, a food system that is “good, clean and fair.” Anthony is a food professional with experience throughout the food supply chain. Past experience include; growing up on a farm; corporate food processing, distribution, and food safety; Paris culinary training; and food sourcing. Anthony currently spends his time helping large and small farms, slaughter facilities, and restaurants develop a Slow Food NYC sustainability philosophy.
Ian Calder-Piedmonte is co-owner of Balsam Farms, which is located on the South Fork of the beautiful East End of Long Island. Balsam consists of several fields between the small villages of Amagansett and Sagaponack, where hundreds of different vegetables are grown, including over 75 different varieties of tomatoes as well as potatoes, greens, flowers, herbs, small grain and locally famous corn. Ian grew up on a standardbred race-horse farm and also showed horses in hunter and jumper competitions.
Graham Meriwether is a documentary journalist who serves as the director at Leave It Better, a film production company committed to telling solutions-oriented stories about environmental challenges. Graham studied at the University of Colorado at Boulder and is based in New York City. For the past five years, Graham has been focused on directing and distributing American Meat. In 2010, Meriwether founded the non-profit organization, Leave It Better Foundation, whose mission is to empower youth to heal our environment.
Moderator: Matthew Hoffman is a rural sociologist whose research bridges food systems, community development, land tenure, and natural resource management. A once and future farmer from Vermont, he is currently a visiting professor at New York University in the department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health.