|This was not my first time seeing Dan Barber speak I had an idea what to expect. I would hope that Gregory Long knew what to expect so this does mark a change in food attitude. As I sat under a huge tent right next to the most beautiful glass house on earth I could see about a thousand other people in the audience that didn't know what to expect.
This was an audience waiting to see Martha Stewart rattle some pots and pans and they heard Dan Barber, the chef from Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, mention that "The American food industry is based on $30 a barrel oil and cannot sustain itself" as he first addressed the audience. Mr Barber talked about the nutritional value of local grown vegetables as compared with vegetables that were shipped across the nation and the energy wasted in shipment. He talked about the advantages of grass fed animals and how the Hudson Valley has what might be the best grass on earth but somehow New Zealand cornered the market on grass fed livestock.
I was shocked when he gave an audience of Martha Stewart fans a glowing review of the movie "Food Inc" and suggested that everyone should see it. When he suggested that the next food documentary should be about the medium sized farms that are being put out of business and creating a totally corporate food culture in America the audience having recently learned that even corporate cookie dough isn't safe, the audience actually gasped in horror.
Jill gave me some more information on that issue;
Farms over 2000 acres may make up only 3.6% of all farms, but their sales represent 27% of sales by all farms of any size and their land makes up over half of all farm acres in the U.S. And these farms are totally on the government take. Nearly 1/3 of all government money that goes to farms goes to farms over 2000 acres.
The best part was that this audience that was definitely not foodies, they listened to Gregory Long introduce Martha Steward.
And once Martha got past the proper way to pronounce herb and started talking about her food empire, the audience looks just a bored as I was. They wanted to hear more from Dan Barber. Sorry Martha.
That was a pretty impressive event so far away for where it could usually be expected. People got out of bed today to see some celebrity cooking demonstrations and walked away asking about some movie called "Food Inc."
This doesn't mean there will be a great deal of serious support for food issues in an institution that is so dependent on federal funding and corporate sponsorship. Perhaps the management had no clue how impressive a speaker Dan Barber would be. Or perhaps this is a new wave and food issues will get much more exposure.
Since there is a whole summer of demonstrations ahead more shall be revealed in the coming months. This does offer plenty of opportunity for serious minded people in the local food movement. After I've watched almost every event in the NYBG grow, this one may spread its wings too.