TEDx Manhattan "Changing The Way We Eat" Viewing Party in DC

by Anya Kroupnik Windhoffer, special to Edible DC

A recent TEDx Manhattan viewing party here in DC tackled issues that sometimes can seem obsessive, even to those who are, admittedly, food obsessed. Does a food need to be organic? How was this grown? Was this ethically harvested? The “Changing The Way We Eat” event explored these questions and others, ultimately confirming that food and sustainability do matter, and they matter to all of us.

As with all TEDx events, the organization brought together many experts and enthusiasts alike, from vegan rappers and inspirational teachers to world-renowned scientists. The D.C. viewing party offered an opportunity for local speakers to also share their work, experiences and visions from a decidedly D.C. perspective. Pam Hess, Executive Director of the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture, kicked off the event by introducing Arcadia’s programs dedicated to creating a more equitable and sustainable food system, delivering locally grown foods via "mobile markets" to food desert locations in our city.

Picture of Pam Hess, “The US spends $190B annually on healthcare, expenses fueled by an abundance of salty, sugary, processed foods. Someone living in a food desert will on average pass 14 unhealthy food options before they come across healthy choices. It is our goal to change that.”

Zach Lester of Tree and Leaf Farm discussed his passion for soil and sustainable farming, reminding the audience that as “soil, soul, and society”, we’re all intertwined. 2015 is being declared the International Year of Soils by the UN General Assembly, putting an essential focus on the “importance of soil for food security and essential ecosystem functions”.

Picture of Zach Lester, “You have to give back to soil to be able to use it. Soil is living, it’s an organism that we must cherish and care for.”

Other speakers included Amos Desjardins, who runs for causes such as battling food insecurity for every Virginian; Tom McDougall, founder of 4P Foods, who spoke of utilizing technology to maximize benefits of eating locally; and Elizabeth O'Connell of Green America, who emphasized the importance of knowing where our food comes from and how it is harvested.

Sweetgreen salad.

Feeding this crowd was as important as what was said, simply because the attendees were people who truly care about what’s on their plates. Lunch featured fresh salads from sweetgreen, along with Fruitcycle’s locally sourced cinnamon apple chips and lemonade from Evensong Farm, made with herbs from their Maryland farm. Later in the afternoon, Sprout Kitchen Gardens shared their strawberry salsa and onion dip, a tasty footnote to a day spent learning about innovative food and sustainability programs and keeping the passion for food alive.

Sprout Kitchen Gardens strawberry salsa.

Digital Editor note: thanks to Danielle Tergis of the Tergis Group for organizing this local viewing party and arranging a start studded and engaging panel.