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Science Activities Update: Frontiers of Science – Feeding Ourselves in the Future

Posted on Monday, January 24, 2022

On January 13th, members of ARCS NCC and many guests were treated to a lively and informative discussion on FEEDING OURSELVES IN THE FUTURE, by four amazing women: Sibella Kraus (Founder of SAGE - Sustainable Agriculture Education), Sonja Brodt, PhD (Associate Director of UC SAREP, UC statewide, although physically located at UC Davis), Leigh Bernacchi, PhD (Director of CITRIS, UC Merced), and Alice Waters (Food Activist, Founder of Chez Panisse restaurant, the Edible Schoolyard Project, and the Institute for Edible Education at UC Davis). They tackled this issue: How can we create resilient food and agriculture systems in the face of climate change and other shocks?

Moderator Sibella Kraus’s first question was “What are the most important factors in our food system that will allow us to feed 10 billion people?”

  • Alice Waters answered without hesitation: EDUCATION. Teach children how to grow food in school gardens and cook it for lunch in school kitchens. Teach them about climate change, recycling, arugula and persimmons.
  • Leigh Bernacchi agreed with Alice that the education of young people was critical. She emphasized her concerns about the many people in this country who do not have enough food, and about changing climate – hotter temperatures, dryer summers and falls, more fires and floods. She noted that we need to identify the “change-makers”, people who can influence others to embrace what must change to save this planet. 
  • Sonja Bordt added that people must learn about the true cost of food – what it costs to produce, ship and distribute. She shared her concerns about the inequities in the food system – especially that farmers, farmworkers, and ranchers who produce earn only a small percentage of the total cost of food. She noted that we need to learn about resilient supply chains and biodiversity (“check out elderberry products”).

There was a brisk Q&A with topics ranging from synthetic meats to management of food waste. We learned that food is an important component of good health, of cultures, of community/family gatherings. In final remarks, Alice returned to her current campaign to get the entire UC system to create lunch on all campuses using local/regional products. Sonja said scientific research needed to include culture and spirituality. Leigh thanked ARCS for investing in scholars studying agriculture and left us with a quote from Rumi: “Let the beauty we love be the beauty we do – kneel and kiss the ground.”

Our thanks to all the panelists and to ARCS member Jerry DiVecchio, retired editor of Food and Wine for Sunset Magazine, who arranged this event.  Click here for the full recording of the event on our YouTube channel.