I had an amazing experience at this years TEDxManhattan “Changing The Way We Eat” conference. I was humbly inspired and motivated by each and every speaker. It was an epic event filled with like-minded people who are true ‘Food Warriors’ and ‘Food Heroes’. Conferences like TEDxManhattan create a platform for people to share their ideas and passions. Diane Hatz, is the main organizer and host of TEDxManhattan. She is also the Founder and Executive Director of Change Food. This year was her forth conference, and it was definitely well attended globally. She reported this year’s conference had 370 in-person attendees, 173 viewing parties with an estimated 8,500 people in 37 states and 14 countries, and 17,482 computers tuned into the event. What a wonderful accomplishment. Well, as an attendee I had a wonderful experience. Here are some of my highlights.I got the opportunity to meet Tom Colicchio. He was extremely pleasant, friendly, and funny. I am a long time fan of Top Chef which Tom is an Executive Producer and a head judge on the Bravo reality TV show. We obviously have a lot in common so we spoke briefly about the conference and my connections within the ‘Food Movement’. I had a wonderful time chatting with him. He’s truly a ‘Food Hero’. Michele Merkel is the co-director of the Food & Water Justice Program at Food & Water Watch, inspires me to never give up. As a former attorney for the Environmental Protection Agency, Michele knew in her core the unethical practices the EPA stoodby wasn’t fair. She quit her job with the EPA and now Michele represents small traditional organic family farmers, and uses her legal knowledge to sue the EPA. I thought, what a Bad Ass! Although our judicial system is a tough one, Michele believes everyone could help support the fight by voting for candidates who are committed to change, send letters to your representatives, rally, sign petitions and demand for a better sustainable food system. Michele also recommends researching these websites for more ways to help. Food Policy Action, Food & Water Watch, and Socialy Responsible Agricultural Project.
Stephen Ritz talked about the struggles his students face while living in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the South Bronx. He founded Green Bronx Machine which teaches student K-12 the importance of eating healthy through growing organic fruits and vegetables in the classroom. Get this, they grow more than 30,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables. We need a Stephen Ritz in every Public School. His hard work and dedication to his students at PS 55 is quite impressive and evident. He is feeding the community and teaching his students simultaneously, which is brilliant. Stephen inspires me to continue to educate my family and community. Nikko Masumoto works on her family’s Certified Organic Farm (Masumoto Family Farm) where they grow peaches, nectarines, and grapes. Nikiko’s talk made me see the realization of how timing is extremely important when harvesting. She was captivating! Her poem, “My Fields of Dreams” fascinated me because we share the same dream — a sustainable future for everyone. In honor of National Poetry Month April 2015, I celebrate Nikko’s poem. In 2013 she published her first book The Perfect Peach (Ten Speed Press), co-authored with Marcy & David Mas Masumoto. Family farming preserves traditional food products while safeguarding the world’s agro-biodiversity. Nikiko is proudly learning the tools of the trade on her fathers farm. Danielle Nierenberg is the President of Food Tank and one of my idles. She has a long history in fighting to alleviate hunger and property, while protecting the environment. Danielle’s talk about the forgotten farmers, which are women because it’s women who make up 43% of the global agricultural work force. They are often denied education, refused by banking and financial institutions, and faced with discrimination. Danielle opened up my mind to see that there are other women struggling to earn, farm and feed their families all over the world. I’m inspired to learn more about Food Tank, and to help continue to spread the word about women in agricultural work force. Ietef “DJ Cavem Moetavation” Vita is an O.G. (Organic Gardner), vegan chef, educator, midwife, emcee, producer, b-boy, DJ, founder of Going Green Living Bling, founder of Eco-HipHop and award-winning activist. His performance and message was awesome. He got everyone up and moving to the sounds and beats of, the “Kale Life”. Ietef raps, performs and educates young children and communities through his music. His performance along with his wife Alkemia Earth was epic. Check out how they use hip hop to educate others about healthy food TEDxManhattan talk and performance.
Conferences like TEDxManhattan create a platform for people to share their ideas and passions. This was my first time attending one of TEDxManhattan conferences, and I was impressed by the whole experience.
Every aspect of that day was centered around the theme, “Changing the Way We Eat”. From the speakers topics, the ambiance of the event, the healthy delicious foods they catered, fun interactive activities, the vendors, guest, prizes and even the wonderful gift bags I took home — the whole experience was amazing.
I’ve made some great connections and learned a tremendous amount of information about our food system. It was a life changing event for me, and I am forever grateful for the opportunity. I am already looking forward next year’s event. I am and forever will be a TEDxSter! To hear the TEDxManhattan 2015 talks click here.