Rumors swirled that 1,200 people were expected at the Brooklyn Food Conference (BFC) on Saturday, May 2 at John Jay High School in Park Slope, Brooklyn. We were certainly surprised to find a projected 3,000 people in attendance and we even ran out of most of our materials! It was an honor to be invited to speak on the panel, "Our industrial meat complex: Hazardous to our health and our habitat" moderated by Kerry Trueman (co-founder of EatingLiberally.org) and to present testimony at the Public Hearing on Food Policy and Implementation with State and City Elected Officials. Animal Welfare Approved staffer Brigid Sweeney presented on behalf of independent pasture-based and high welfare farmers before State Senator Eric Adams, State Assembly member Jim Brennan, State Senator Velmanette Montgomery and City Council Member Leticia James. The public hearing was moderated by David Buckel, civil rights attorney and BFC volunteer organizer, who is determined to make Animal Welfare Approved's voice heard for New York's legislative agenda.
The New York Times recently published a letter written by Michael Pollan to the next President of the United States. He begins by pointing out that this is the first time a U.S. President has had to deal with a national food crisis since the Nixon administration. However, the crisis is different this time because asking for an increase in food production would further harm other campaign priorities – the health care crisis, energy independence or climate change. In fact, Pollan points out that that the United States needs to reform the entire food system because he says the next President “will quickly discover that the way we currently grow, process and eat food in America goes to the heart of all three problems and will have to change if we hope to solve them.”
One of Pollan’s proposed solutions for weaning today’s agricultural system off of fossil fuel use is to: “make optimal use of sunlight, crop plants and animals must once again be married on the farm — as in Wendell Berry’s elegant ‘solution.’ Sunlight nourishes the grasses and grains, the plants nourish the animals, the animals then nourish the soil, which in turn nourishes the next season’s grasses and grains. Animals on pasture can also harvest their own feed and dispose of their own waste — all without our help or fossil fuel.”
To read Pollan’s explanation of how our current food system contributes to many of today’s problems in the US and his proposed solutions click here for the full letter to the President-elect or better yet the next Farmer in Chief.