BAR HARBOR, Maine — What is the full story of food? While today many people are looking into food production and healthy eating, the intermediary activities — of packaging, processing, distribution, sales, consumption, and waste — are seldom investigated. Yet these activities, and how they are controlled, have tremendous impacts on the well-being of entire populations. From April 20-22, College of the Atlantic will host a sustainable foods conference, “Food Connections: Reconnecting Hands, Mouth & Mind through Food Systems Education.” The conference will feature discussions on what people need to know to transform food systems, and how these subjects can best be learned.
“While many colleges and universities have farms where students can learn about food production,” says Molly Anderson, COA’s Partridge Chair in Food and Sustainable Agriculture Systems. “Learning about the rest of the food system is still fragmented and not integrated with surrounding farms or the community where higher education occurs.”
Keynote speakers are Eric Holt-Giménez, executive director of Food First/Institute for Food & Development Policy in Oakland, and Gary Paul Nabhan, author and research scientist at the University of Arizona’s Southwest Center. Discussion leaders will include those who are forging paths in new distribution methods, policies that favor small organic farms, ways of getting more sustainable food to campuses, cultural connections with foodways, and advocacy for food justice and sovereignty.
Among the participants are Niaz Dorry of the North Atlantic Marine Alliance, Amanda Beal of the Eat Local Food Coalition, Angelika Ploeger and COA alumnus Dustin Eirdosh of the University of Kassel in Germany, Nic Lampkin and Bruce Pearce of the Organic Research Centre in England, John Piotti of Maine Farmland Trust, and food systems staffers from COA and other colleges and universities. Workshop topics include Intersections between Farming and Fishing Policy, Examining and Improving College Food Systems, Sustainable Consumption through Food and Fish Standards, and Students Organizing for Social Justice in the Food System.
Holt-Giménez is the editor of the 2011 Food First book, “Food Movements Unite! Strategies to Transform Our Food Systems,” and “Campesino a Campesino: Voices from Latin America’s Farmer to Farmer Movement for Sustainable Agriculture.” Nabhan is a nature writer, seed saver, conservation biologist and sustainable agriculture activist. A MacArthur Fellow, Nabhan has been called, “the father of the local food movement” by Mother Earth News. His most recent book is “Desert Terroir: Exploring the Unique Flavors and Sundry Places of the Borderlands.”
The conference will be based on the COA campus at 105 Eden St. in Bar Harbor, with field trips to local farms, including the college’s organic Beech Hill Farm and its new Peggy Rockefeller Farms, as well as to Acadia National Park. In addition to COA, sponsors of the Food Connections conference are Elm Farm Organic Research Centre and the Faculty of Organic Agricultural Sciences at the University of Kassel through a Trans-Atlantic Partnership with generous funding from the Partridge Foundation.