When I originally heard about the Bitten Food Conference, I forwarded it on to everyone I knew in the food industry but didn’t originally think about attending myself. This page on who should attend changed my mind:
We created Bitten to host a conversation not only for those working within the food world, but also those passionate about technology, creativity, pop culture, entertainment, design and innovation as it pertains to the future of food. Whether you're an agency, brand, entrepreneur, startup, policy-maker or cook, we hope to see you… there is no more important or exciting topic today than the state and future of food
I was sold. I am lover of food and always looking to meet inspiring individuals that are working to improve their communities. And the future of food really does affect everyone – no matter what industry you're in. The conference turned out to be one of the more inspiring days I've experienced in a while. Everything from the website and beautiful photography, venue, organizers, sponsors, catering, and of course the speakers – perfection!
Here are my top 10 takeaways from the guest speakers:
The rebirth of authentic neighborhoods.
Eric Demby of Smorgasburg and Brooklyn Flea spoke about the power of the Brooklyn Brand: Authentic, Artisanal, Community & Cutting Edge. Demby believes that if you are rooting for Brooklyn, you are rooting for the rebirth of America. How amazing it is to visit other cities and hear people refer to specific neighborhoods as “ that’s the Brooklyn of ______".
No UV rays, no insects, no pesticides.
The majority of our leafy greens are currently grown in Northern California where drought is a serious concern. AeroFarms has created a vertical farm in Newark, NJ where they have figured out how to grow 200 varieties of leafy greens that are soil free, pesticide free, and use 95% less water. AeroFarms knows exactly what these plants need for optimal growth conditions so nothing is wasted. The plants grow at twice the speed and with increased vitamins and antioxidants in each leaf. They don’t need to use pesticides because they figured out which UV light insects need to see and have removed it in their growing facilities. And just when you think this company can’t get any more impressive – they placed a growing pod at a Newark Elementary School where the 8th graders care for the greens and grow enough produce to feed the entire school for the year.
The future of growing meat and leather is here.
Andras Forgacs was the co-founder of Organovo which creates human tissue for pharmaceutical research and medical applications. Now he has moved on to animal meat and leather. By collecting cells and not harming the animal in any way – Modern Meadow is able to GROW meat! They recently served steak chips to a VIP group at Google that they grew from cow cells (picture a healthy beef jerky style chip). Additionally, they have a created a process for growing and tanning leather. No longer will animals need to be slaughtered for fashion! Truly amazing.
It takes a village to sustain fresh and affordable food.
Farmigo is an online farmer’s market that inspires neighborhoods to set up volunteer pickup locations as a way to provide fresh and affordable foods to their community. Farms receive 60 cents on every dollar spent! Individuals that provide space for a pickup location receive either 70% off of their own orders or 10% commission on sales in their neighborhood. Even better – you begin to create a community around food where you really get to know your neighbors!
NYC's first food museum is coming.
Peter Kim raised a very interesting question – why isn’t there a Museum of Food & Drink? Food is such an integral part of our history, our communities, our identities. Which is why I can’t wait to one day visit MOFAD! Peter’s vision of a rooftop garden that is used for education, a café that serves food from ancient civilizations, and exhibits that you can eat and drink – so exciting!
You can grow a mustache to provide clean water.
It’s a scary realization that 800 million people (one in nine!) do not have access to clean water. Charity Water has set out to change these statistics and have already done so by bringing clean water to 4.6 million people. Every dollar donated to the organization goes toward this goal because private donors cover all of their operating costs. Makena informed the audience how we could get involved by starting our own campaign. Her video shared a number of creative ways people are raising money across the globe: making a music video, starting a book club, and even growing a mustache... all for clean water!
Get your mother's recipes!
Lisa told a beautiful story of how she grew up living with her Korean grandmother who was always cooking amazing food for her family. Whenever Lisa tried to watch her grandmother cook, she would be kicked out of the kitchen and told to study. Sadly her grandmother passed away without sharing her family recipes, and Lisa found that cooking from generic recipes just wasn’t the same. So she went in search of another Korean grandmother for cooking lessons. This experience was the basis for creating her company, The League of Kitchens. Now mothers and grandmothers join this organization to invite small groups into their kitchens to teach and experience food from around the world. Each instructor provides unique cooking techniques, recipes, history, and traditions. Everyone leaves with much more than a full belly!
Crickets are the new protein.
They have more protein than chicken or beef, are 20 times more efficient as a source of protein than cattle, produce 80 times less methane than cattle, and need significantly less feed to produce the same amount of protein. We all got to taste Exo's line of cricket powder protein bars, and they were delicious!
Smart eating starts young.
This former White House chef has now created courses that combine cooking & science. While hosting tours in the gardens created by Mrs. Obama, Bill Yosses realized that kids are really interested in the science behind their food – why are these leaves purple but those are green? He left the White House to focus on teaching young children and adults about eating better. He is one of the chefs behind Harvard’s Science and Cooking Lecture Series – a collaboration between researchers and world-class chefs.
Whatever your passion or medium – leverage every resource you can get your hands on to help our fellow human beings.
This was just one of the many lines spoken by Alexis Miesen during her powerful presentation on the work she is doing through her Brooklyn ice cream company, Blue Marble (nickname for planet earth). Their ice cream is amazing and organic, but what is even more impressive is the work they are doing outside of Brooklyn. Blue Marble Dreams has spread to Rwanda and recently Haiti. They build ice cream shops with women in areas recovering from conflict or natural disaster. Additionally they support local farmers for their ingredients. These sweet, small enterprises can help lift both the spirit and the economy of a community! She credits their business model to “happiness economics”: happy people make productive workers, and productive workers make a prosperous society, and a prosperous society makes happy people.
By Tracy Murrin. Photos courtesy of Pop Productions.