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Highlights from the 2017 JBF Food Summit

JBF Editors

October 30, 2017

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Photo: Kent Miller

Last week, JBF hosted its ninth annual Food Summit, Consuming Power, at the Convene Conference Center in New York City. The two-day summit explored the evolution of consumer power and its impact on the food movement, bringing together a diverse group of experts from across disciplines to look into the genesis and changing dynamics of consumer influence.

With more than 30 thought leaders featured, inspirational words abounded. Below, we're sharing a few of our favorite moments from this year's summit:

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“A lot has happened in the last year. What hasn’t changed is our desire to feed ourselves, our family, and our friends.”—Mitchell Davis, Executive Vice President, James Beard Foundation

“Changing beliefs is like changing a load-bearing beam in your house—it’s not just changing one piece of wood.”—Jonas Kaplan, Assistant Research Professor of Psychology, Brain, and Creativity Institute and Co-Director of the Dana & David Dornslife Cognitive Neuroimaging Center, University of South Carolina

“Farmers, mothers, and chefs are trusted voices on food for swing voters.”Eric Kessler, Founder and Chairman, Arabella Advisors; Board Trustee, James Beard Foundation  

“Consumers shouldn’t have a choice about sustainable products; every product on the shelf should be sustainable.”—Jason Clay, Senior Vice President, Food & Markets and Executive Director, Markets Institute, World Wildlife Fund

“Eating is highly cultural and a reflection of identity. You eat who you are."—Darren Seifer, Food Consumption Industry Analyst, NPD

"The first thing I do is find the smartest person who doesn't agree with me and listen."Tamar Haspel, Journalist, Washington Post

“Nearly 1 in 3 people say they don’t care where their food was grown or raised.”—Jill Gress, vice president, Radius Global Market Research

"For farmers, the choice between yield and flavor is a false choice."—Dan Barber, Chef and Author, Blue Hill at Stone Barns; 2017 JBF Leadership Award recipient

“Why is there such tension between making a profit and doing the right thing?”Mehmood Khan, Vice Chairman and Chief Scientific Officer of Global Research and Development, PepsiCO

“The word that keeps on coming up is trust. It may be the asset most at stake for food companies today.”—Josh Anthony, Vice President of Global Nutrition, Campbell’s

"It can be that simple; you make a decision to help the right people, the right farmers. Make the right sourcing choices, and eventually that will create a demand.”—Jamilka Borges, Chef, S+P Restaurant Group, JBF Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change Alumnus

“We wanted to set up a place that didn’t take advantage of its workers and supported them; what we found was that this creates staff loyalty, which leads to customer loyalty, which gets them to come back, and leads to profits.”Christine Cikowski, Chef/Co-Owner, Honey Butter Fried Chicken; JBF Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Program Alumnus

“Food media is a game changer. It’s about more than journalism or storytelling. Those words and pictures can and often do create real change.”—Helen Rosner, Journalist

"Corporations don't talk about labor at all. We need to push the conversation in that direction."—Jose Oliva, Co-Director, Food Chain Workers Alliance; 2017 JBF Leadership Award recipient

"Wherever you're from, whatever your politics, people want fresh, healthy food on your family table."Chellie Pingree, Member of Congress, Maine’s First Congressional District; 2017 JBF Leadership Award recipient

“The great crime of agriculture in the last 40 years was the proprietization of knowledge that life gives to us all...it won't work in a networked world...and it stops now.”—Caleb Harper, Principal Investigator and Director, Open Agriculture Initiative, MIT Media Lab

“We want food knowledge to be baked into education.”—Pamela Koch, Executive Director, Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy, Research Associate Professor, Program in Nutrition, Department of Health & Behavior Studies, Teachers Colleges Columbia University

“Of course we nourish as chefs, it’s what we do well. We must nourish ideas as well as with food.”Hari Pulapaka, Chef and Associate Professor Mathematics, Stetson University

“Anything you do for me, without me, you do to me.”—Jon Alexander, Co-Founder, The New Citizenship Project

“The food system is not being changed by regulations and government decrees, but by ordinary women and men understanding that they have a role in changing the food system.”—Olivier DeSchutter, Co-Chair, International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems and Former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food; 2017 JBF Leadership Award recipient

“We live in a zero-sum world where the more people get, the less other people receive.”Tunde Wey, Chef and Activist

During the two-day summit, the James Beard Foundation also unveiled findings from its first-ever research study undertaken to understand U.S. adult consumers motivations and thought processes behind their food choices, beliefs, and behaviors. The research project, coordinated by Karen Karp & Partners (KK&P), and conducted in collaboration with Radius Global Market Research and the Good Housekeeping Institute, focused on what people have been eating, doing, and thinking about food over the last three years.

Day one of the conference was capped off by the seventh annual James Beard Foundation Leadership Awards dinner and ceremony at Hearst Tower, co-hosted by Good Housekeeping. The awards, emceed by Carla Hall, honored six visionaries across a broad range of backgrounds who influence how, why, and what we eat. Many of the 2017 Leadership Awards recipients—Dan Barber, Olivier De Schutter, Joann Lo and Jose Oliva, and Chellie Pingree—also participated in the conference. Learn more about our 2017 JBF Leadership Award recipients

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Founding support for this year’s JBF Food Summit was provided by GRACE Communications Foundation, with additional support provided by Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, Bon Appétit Management Company, Campbell Soup Company, Distinguished Vineyards Portfolio including Argyle, MacRostie, and Wither Hills Wineries, Edible, Eating City, Eventbrite, the Blended Burger Project and the Mushroom Council, FoodTank, Good Housekeeping, Heritage Radio Network, International Culinary Center, Karen Karp & Partners, Natural Gourmet Institute, Niman Ranch, Pastificio DiMartino, PepsiCo, Radius Global Market Research, and the Quaker Oats Company.

Catch up on all the action through our livestream archive.

Learn more about the JBF Food Summit.