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Tag: Barry Estabrook

This week we are showcasing films shown at the 2012 Edible Institute (“EI”).

 

The first time I saw Back to the Start, I almost started crying. I couldn’t believe that a mainstream company, even one as progressive as Chipotle, would release something like this. Sometimes I get lost in my little bubble of foodie-Santa Barbara where people discuss GMOs, CAFOs, Monstanto, and the Farm Bill at dinner parties. Then, I’ll visit friends out of town and realize that the American food norm is far, far away from my little world. A corporate company making a video about factory farming is abnormal.

I honestly thought that everyone had seen it (make sure to scroll down to the bottom for the making-of video too!). Except, when I asked my dad, brother and best friend, they hadn’t heard about it. Perhaps airing the video during the Grammys wasn’t enough?

I want all eaters to see this movie! Why? Because in 2 minutes and 20 seconds, Chipotle manages to tell a simple story of a farmer who moves from a sustainable family farm to an industrial animal factory and then realizes he needs to go back to where he started. I believe in baby steps. I believe that everyone needs to understand where their food comes from and how it’s made. That’s why my brother and I started Be Food Smart in the first place. In the food movement, there is so much talk about reaching those beyond “the choir.” The beauty of this mini movie is its simplicity and ability to reach the mainstream with a message they are not hearing right now. While Chipotle is certainly not perfect, they are a tiny stride in the right direction and, quite frankly, the food movement needs all the help it can get.

Watch now:
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Photo from WhiteOakPastures.com

 

It should be a rule never to have a Spring-forward, daylight savings time change in the middle of a two-day conference. I was exhausted from both the information packed day on Saturday and the evening gala, and didn’t expect 9:45am to feel so early. I was determined to ignore the tiredness and focus as it was day two of the Edible Institute (“EI” – click here to read Part 1 and Part 2 of this three-part series).

Note: The second day of EI, included several video and film viewings. Rather than include them all in this already too long blog post, we’ll be devoting next week to videos. Visit each day to watch these fabulous food-related video clips.

Telling Sustainable Meat Stories

I have to admit that the title of the first panel, wasn’t rocking my world. I was, however, impressed that the EI staff had managed to secure Chris Arnold, the Director of Communications for Chipotle. Also gracing the panel was Jeff Tripican, CMO & EVP of Sales for Niman Ranch, Will Harris who is president of White Oak Pastures and finally, Whole Foods Markets’ Meat Coordinator, Dave Ruedlinger. Boy was I in for a meaty treat.

The Chipotle story is truly fascinating. Founder Steve Ells essentially threw out the fast food restaurant model and started from scratch when he opened the first Chipotle restaurant in 1993. Over the years, the chain has grown and evolved to include: organic black beans, no dairy (sour cream and cheese) from cows treated with rBGH growth hormones, only antibiotic-free chicken, and are working towards a higher percentage of naturally raised beef and local suppliers. Arnold notes that, “We have the highest food cost of any restaurant [chain] in the industry and the highest profits…while we’re far from perfect, it’s surprising that more restaurant companies haven’t followed our model.” In 2000, Chipotle decided to move to all sustainably-raised pork and this meant a $1 increase to the carnitas for the customers. Arnold explains that many of their customers eat at Chipotle because they like the food, not because of any social message.
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Nourishment comes in various forms. The physical body is nourished with food and drink. The soul, however, is a bit more complex as nourishment means different things to different people. Religion feeds this part of the being for many. For others, it’s doing something that makes them feel like a better person. For me, it is being surrounded by people who love me unconditionally or sitting in a room full of people who care deeply about the same things I do. What is that you ask? Food. Nutritious, accessible, healthy-for-you and healthy-for-the-planet food.

This was my second year attending the Edible Institute (“EI” and to see the conversation on Twitter #edi2012). Last year’s conference made quite an impression on me leaving 2012 with some seriously huge shoes to fill. If you are not familiar with Edible, they are beautiful magazines filled with everything food-related local to that area, or as they say,  Award Winning Magazines That Celebrate Local Foods, Season by Season. There are almost 70 Edible magazines and publishers flew in from all over the United States and Canada this past Wednesday to attend a publishers’ conference. Saturday morning Edible Institute ignited bringing publishers together with filmmakers, food writers, farmers, activists,  fisherman, ranchers, winemakers, bloggers, and yours truly. I can tell you that the 2012 EI did not disappoint. The notion that one person can make a difference thoroughly resonated. It penetrated my self-doubt and reminded me that what I do matters and does make a difference.

 

Nikki Henderson, photo by Fran Colin

“Life is just a series of breakdowns and breakthroughs. Not everyone will breakthrough, but everyone should have the choice.” – Nikki Henderson

I knew very little about Nikki Henderson when she walked up to the podium to deliver her keynote speech, other than the fact that she looked stunning in her fitted, cafe-au-lait colored knit dress and short, tight dreadlocks. Her bio told me that she was the Executive Director of People’s Grocery in Oakland, CA and a champion for food justice for the poor. Henderson told her food story which encompassed her time in her mama’s womb, her mother’s decision to breastfeed, seeing kale for the first time at 23, and learning what really worked for the impoverished and underfed people of Oakland. She’s wise beyond her years, funny, eloquent, and oh so passionate about what she stands for. The captivating oration was an all-around yummy way to launch a 2-day food movement conference.

Highlight: Henderson’s reminder that “food justice has to be for everyone who doesn’t have someone to fight for them.” That may mean the farmer on the other side of the political aisle who doesn’t have a voice (yes, the one who votes for the other guy) . She ended her speech by asking, “Who do you have to be to help the movement?” It was a profound and rather humbling moment. Not sure what my answer is…I’ll have to get back to you on that one.
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No matter how long I live in Santa Barbara, I will never tire of the exquisite view of the glistening ocean. To sit outside on a Saturday afternoon in JANUARY, eating my lunch and meeting new people, was such a treat.  Oh, and did I mention that conference sponsor, St-Germain was serving their signature uber-refreshing cocktails? Ya, life was good. If you are just tuning in, I was fortunate enough to have been able to attend the Edible Institute food conference over the weekend. This is the second of a three-part series (click here to read Part 1; Part 3 coming tomorrow).

Are You Paying Attention?

Okay, the title of the third panel was a bit lackluster: Journalists Talk Strategies for Writing About Industrial Agriculture, but the content of the session was anything but. As someone who is passionate about writing, I pay attention when seasoned pros are giving out advice. Panelist Philip Brasher, of the Des Moines Register, was asked how he writes about both sides of the food debate without alienating either side. Brasher said, “Mostly by dealing straight…trying to get the story right, fair, and reliable.”  Sounds simple, but I found myself wondering how often journalists really do get the full story and accurately portray all sides. Food for thought.
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