Stories / Impact

Overheard at the JBF Food Conference (Day 2)

JBF Editors

October 18, 2016


That's a wrap on the 2016 JBF Food Conference! Day 2 was packed with inspiring stories from the men and women behind real-world advocacy, thought-provoking workshops to craft campaigns fighting issues like sustainable meat and childhood nutrition, a rousing debate over the fate of the industial food system, and more. Here are some of the most memorable moments from our second day.


1. "Many times in movements you see them fall apart because one person wants to be the messenger and get all the attention and get the credit. Not everyone can be the messenger—some people have to carry the water, do the laundry, take out the trash. But those people are just as important as the messenger."—John Boyd Jr., Founder and President, National Black Farmers Association; 2016 JBF Leadership Award Honoree

2. "When you start to look at movements critically, there’s a valence to movements: they can be positive or negative."—Mitch Baranowski, Creative Director, Brand Marketer, Entrepreneur

3. "One thing we cannot tell you definitively is how to move this forward. It’s about the work all of you do when you go home and put your boots back on."—Karen Karp, President, Karen Karp & Partners

4. "You have to know when to claim victory. You have to know when you win, and then what comes after the win. You have to continue the work to make things better." —John Boyd Jr.

5. "If I could hope for anything to blow this wide open, it’s that we start becoming aware of this—we close the loop and tell the moms that their choices are making a difference. If we actually tell people that this is happening and the big food companies are paying attention, if we raise awareness, I think we really could unlock a transformation."—Alexia Howard, Research Analyst – Food, AB Bernstein

6. "We have to change our food system, but we also have to change who’s at the table." —Phil Jones, Director, City Food Community Concepts

7. "Even a small band of chefs can come together and influence how Congress votes on sustainability."—Matt McClure, Executive Chef, The Hive 

8. "You can’t have a movement unless you have a slogan. When you go to a rally and somebody yells, “what do we want?” You have to have your answer ready."—Tamar Haspel, Journalist, Washington Post

9. "We are lovers, not fighters. Lovers of food."—Richard McCarthy, Executive Director, Slow Food USA

10. "If the industrial system were to adopt our measures of success, then it would cease to exist."—Richard McCarthy

11. "Although my heart is in food, we have to start using our heads. The heart isn’t going to get us where we want to go. Step by step, moving the ball down the field, and owning the momentum, is the only way forward."—Sam Kass, Founder, Trove 

12. "We have to make an environment that makes healthy choices easier. But scale matters—right now, we’re satisfied when people who are mostly rich and white have access to perfectly grown food. But it only matters to me if we’re reaching a lot of people. And that means sacrificing some of the idyllic view of how everyone should be eating."—Sam Kass

13. "You have to start making demands for people who do not have options. You have got to get your ground game and your grassroots in order. We have got to get them to demand change. If you are going to change culture, you have to get the people who are eating the food to understand why they need to eat better. Those people need to be the voice to demand change, and then we can provide them the solutions and the forum to do so."—Administrator Gina McCarthy, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

14. "I need agriculture to see themselves as being part of the solution. Now I’m not suggesting that they’re not helpful, and they’re not wanting to do things. It’s hard for us to reach farmers, because they’re so disseminated, and it’s not like they can sit and study. We have to find an easy way to get the solutions out to them."—Gina McCarthy

15. "I have never felt more stimulated, more inspired, more provoked. It's simply phenomenal."—Tim Gunn, Educator, Author, Fashion Therapist, Project Runway Mentor

Missed any of the panels? Catch up on our livestream archive.


The James Beard Foundation would like to thank the following for their support of the JBF Food Conference:


Founder: GRACE Communications Foundation

Visionary: Blended Burger Project™

Innovators: Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute  |  Bon Appétit Management Company  |  Karen Karp & Partners  | Starbucks Reserve

Sustainers: Bonterra Organic Vineyards  |  fairlife  |  Good Housekeeping

Supporter: Natural Gourmet Institute

Media: Civil Eats  |  Edible Communities  |  foodtank