Getting outside of our comfort zones can be so important. After all, isn't that what we are asking of consumers? "Step outside your familiar grocery store and explore where your food is coming from." So it makes sense that we should be willing to do the same.
For many of us, the SXSW Future of Food conference was well outside that comfort zone, but within the many presentations, there was a lot to be gleaned, a lot to be learned.
The attendees were passionate about food and further from the farm than those of us in Grounded and Rising typically are. If they were farm-connected, chances are it was more co-op for vegetables, producing edible insects for protein or something else that may not be the norm in the middle of nowhere Nebraska. They were excited about food, about making the world a better place and excited to hear new ideas. Basically, they were me (Janice) when I was in college, grad school and the years when I was trying to find my place in the world. Heck, they are me now, but just without decades in agriculture!
The most important thing to remember when attending events that fall outside our comfort zone is that just about everyone comes to the table with some common ground. Usually we easily spot things we disagree on... it takes conscious effort not to let that overwhelm us. Just like farmers want to make the world better by feeding others and caring for the land for future generations, so, too, do consumers want to do their part by making responsible choices in the products they purchase.
Future of Food was full of interesting panels, some more challenging than others. The entrepreneurship panel echoed much of what Rev and Janice discussed in the vast cultural changes taking place in the food industry. And other panels discussed addressing food inequity, climate change and food, and much, much more.
They have mentioned the possibility of a replay for some or all of the panels on YouTube. I hope it gets done because I missed some panels I wanted to see and I know some of you totally missed the conference. We will be sure to share it if we get a link.
We drew our members attention to the event a few weeks in advance and talked about some of what we anticipated seeing since I had been to SXSW so many times. Heck, I even know the edible insects folks who organized this for SXSW! After the conference, we had a post-event live discussion, where we talked about our take-aways from the event in a round-table format.
It was so cool to share the experience and have a chance to talk about what sounded familiar, where we could find common ground as well as a few of the things we felt a bit uncomfortable about. The future of food is something we all have thoughts about... if we share them more often and understand what others are prioritizing & why, maybe we all win.
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