BAR HARBOR — To celebrate a conference at College of the Atlantic about sustainable food sources, the school’s Ethel H. Blum Gallery is mounting “Food for Thought, Time for Action,” an art exhibit curated by Maine Farmland Trust.
Among the artists will be Bridget Besaw, Doiron, Kathleen Florance, COA alumna Kate Gatski, Holly Meade and Robert Shetterly. The opening reception is Friday, Oct. 2 from 4 to 6 p.m.
The three-day conference – “Food for Thought, Time for Action: Sustainable food, farming and fisheries for the 21st century – spans the same time period.
COA spokesman Donna Gold says that while food may be the essence of life, so much of it has been taken out of our control that many find themselves longing for a more simplified food system – for local, sustainable methods of raising and distributing food. The conference is an attempt to address some of the issues that complicate “regaining control of our sustenance,” she said.
From Oct. 2 through 4, some of the best thinkers on sustainable food systems will unite with many of Maine’s most avid practitioners in a forum open to the public.
Among the keynote speakers will be Raj Patel, author of “Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System;” and Marion Nestle, author of the James Beard Award-winning “What to Eat” and the seminal 2002 work, “Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health.”
On Friday, Oct. 2 at 6 p.m., Mr. Patal will speak on “The Real Price of Food.” Ms. Nestle will speak on “What to Eat: Personal Responsibility or Social Responsibility?” at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 3.
“Sustainable food and farming systems are a vital part of the solution to many pressing global and local issues: climate change, hunger, obesity and the viability of small businesses and rural communities,” says Heather Albert-Knopp, conference organizer, COA alumna, and administrator of the college’s sustainable food systems program. “COA students and alumni will be among those on the front line of this movement.”
Participants will discuss such topics as: What policies will encourage good nutrition and help farms, fisheries and sustainable food systems thrive? How can alternative marketing benefit small-scale farmers and fishermen? What can we learn from our partners abroad that will help Maine and the United States prepare for the future?
Additional sessions will cover such current Maine issues as dairy and seafood certification, community food security, raising sustainable grains, and more. Together, participants and presenters will envision steps to a sustainable future. With fishermen on most panels, the conference offers an opportunity to share information between the farming and fishing communities.
Mr. Patel is a visiting scholar at the Center for African Studies at the University of California at Berkeley and a fellow at the Food First Institute of Food and Development Policy in Oakland, Calif. He has just returned from two years at the Centre for Civil Society at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, where he is a research associate. He has a Ph.D. from Cornell University’s Department of Development Sociology, a Master of Arts from the London School of Economics, and a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy, politics and economics from Balliol College, Oxford.
Ms. Nestle is the Paulette Goddard Professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health at New York University, where she also teaches sociology; she is a visiting professor of nutritional sciences at Cornell. She has a Ph.D. in molecular biology and a Master of Public Health in nutrition, both from the University of California-Berkeley. Her research examines scientific, economic and social influences on food choice. She is the author of the 2003 “Safe Food: Bacteria, Biotechnology, and Bioterrorism,” and the 2008 “Pet Food Politics: The Chihuahua in the Coal Mine.” Ms. Nestle writes the Food Matters column for the San Francisco Chronicle.
COA has recently launched a trans-Atlantic partnership in sustainable food systems with Kassel’s Faculty of Organic Agricultural Sciences and the UK’s Organic Research Centre. The European institutions are co-hosting the conference with COA. Support is provided by the Partridge Foundation.
Registration for the full conference is $100; $70 for non-COA students and COA alumni. Meals are extra. For a schedule and registration information, visit www.coa.edu/foodforthought, or call organizer Ms. Albert-Knopp at 288-2944, extension 354.
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