One of my favorite aspects of the Edible Institute (EI) is that it’s still a small and intimate affair. You know a conference rocks when virtually every speaker and presenter sticks around to listen to the other panels. It’s interesting to hear their questions and sit with them at lunch. I know they are just regular-ole people, but it’s special to have the opportunity to actually talk to “food movement celebrities” at an event. If you’ve been following along, this is the second post in the EI 2012 recap (click here for Part 1).
After lunch, conference participants lingered outside the Hyatt Santa Barbara attempting to absorb every last drop of sunshine possible before going inside. Our bodies were fed and it was time for more thought-provoking panels.
“Basically any food company that has enough money to advertise is evil” – Darya Pino
I was particularly interested in the Creating Food Communities on the Web panel (hmm…wonder why). I’d been following one of the panelists, Dayra Pino of Summer Tomato for a few years and was excited to see her name on the agenda. Pino’s background is nothing short of impressive with a degree in molecular & cell biology and a PhD in neuroscience. This woman is smart, skinny, well-spoken, very attractive, successful, and young. It’s hard not to feel a wee bit jealous.
“I didn’t want to preach to the choir.” Pino said that she appeals to people’s selfishness and desire to be thin with blog post titles like, 20 Ways to Eat Dessert and Stay Skinny! These posts draw all types of people in and by the end of the article they’ve learned a few things about industrial food. Pino reveled that even with her high website traffic rates, that it is still very difficult to monetize a site. “Basically any food company that has enough money to advertise is evil” she joked. I spoke with her for a few minutes at the evening gala event where she divulged that it was just 6 months ago that she was able to quit her day job and live off Summer Tomato. I’m not sure if this is helpful or super depressing news!
It was a very overcast and chilly day. While wrapped in several layers of clothing, I was ill-prepared for the bite of wind at sea. For the first two and half hours I was fine. It was magical actually. Seeing dolphins racing alongside the boat, calf tucked protectively under mama’s fin, amazing. I hardly noticed the ocean spray against my cheeks as I peered down into the water with all the excitement of child. We had been told ahead of time that we there was a chance we may not see whales. We were prepared, and quite frankly, convinced that there would be no sightings.
I attended the SOL Food Festival last year with my hubby and daughter. One of the big draws was Iron Chef, Cat Cora, doing a food demo on the main stage. When we arrived at the park across from the Saturday Santa Barbara Farmers Market we were greeted by a full-feathered, free-roaming turkey (looking suspiciously like the pied piper with his entourage of about 20 kids following his every move). To the right was the ostrich pen which housed 4 baby ostriches. Not a site to be missed. Behind them, the coolest geometrically shaped chicken coop I’ve ever seen.
Born from the minds of two incredible women, Alison Hensley and Heather Hartley, the festival pays homage to real food – that which is Sustainable, Organic and Local (hence then name SOL) and this year is the second annual event. One of our missions at Be Food Smart is to educate people about food. This is also the mission of the SOL Food Festival which is why I’ve been attending their planning meetings for the past few months. If you are in driving distance of Santa Barbara, support this great cause and join us.
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Plaza de Vera Cruz Park & Cota Street (between Anacapa & Santa Barbara Streets)
Mamas & Papas
Bring the kiddos so they can check out the farm equipment, see animals galore, practice their cooking skills and dance to the music. The best part? No need to fight over buying junk food and cotton candy at the food court.
Single Gals & Gents
Beer & Wine Garden, hunky farmers and hottie hippie chicks. Need I say more?
Farmers, food demos and a chance to socialize with the who’s who of Santa Barbara’s sustainable food world.
Average Joes & Janes
This is your chance to get involved and change the way you eat. Find out what amazing local resources are available in your backyard. Between the 3 stages, countless demos, fabulous exhibitors and great tasting, good-for-you food, you’re bound to go home with new skills and knowledge you can actually use.
The Joel Salatin Wannabes
Pick up tips on composting, building a chicken coop, biodynamic gardening, and soil management. It’s time to get some dirt under those nails!
120 acres of Goleta soil in a beautiful valley. Rows of parsley, rosemary, butternut squash, and spinach. Mature walnut trees loaded with chartreuse, nut-bearing bulbs. White trunks peaking out from the apple orchard. Flanked by a running stream and native chaparral. As eyes move up and to the North, the sloping hill boasts newly planted fruit trees. It is organic, experimental, and new.
I can’t believe I’ve written this much and I haven’t even covered the second day of the conference. I’m thinking I may need a professional editor to reel me in! If you’re already lost, don’t fret. This is the third installment of my experience at the Edible Institute food conference in Santa Barbara. Click here to read Part 1 and Part 2.
New Booze and Other Stuff
After a quick shower and dolly playtime with my 3-year old, I was ready for Sunday, aka, Day 2. I arrived at the hotel in time for a colorful array of sliced fruit, a mug of Tazo Earl Grey tea, and conversation with Edible Ohio’s trio-sister publishing team. The first panel represented High-Quality, Artisanal Products and Their Role in the Local Food World featuring the very young (I’m guessing mid-thirties?) Master Distiller of St-Germain, Robert Cooper. If you’ve been following my journey, you may remember me savoring a special cocktail at lunch. Cooper and his wife were handshaking St-Germain cocktails for all the attendees and even let me keep the awesome silver monogrammed, straw/stirrer/swizzle stick (okay, I might have taken 3 because they were so chic). Pretty sweet that the owner of this exceptionally unique liquor was not too cool to stand behind the bar and get dirty.
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.
When an experience inspires you to see that dream again, motivates you to a place you haven’t felt in a long time, and adds a monstrous log to the fire in your soul, what do you call it? Heaven? For me, it was the 2011 Edible Institute. For 20 hours, over two days, I listened, absorbed, brainstormed, smiled, scribbled, tweeted (#EI2011), consumed, and connected.
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. When you so much as glance at an Edible magazine, you know that it is something unique. The first thing you’ll see is the stunning cover. When you pick it up, the luxuriously thick pages beckon to be flipped and the sumptuous photographs visually devoured. 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. Starting at 7:30am Saturday, the Edible Institute ignited bringing publishers together with food writers, farmers, activists, artisans, cookbook authors, winemakers, bloggers, and little old me.