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event recap

Event Recaps


April 12, 2016

Food Lovers Unite to Join the Conversation around Food, Just Food
by Beth Reed @simplywithout


March marks the beginning of the change of weather, new growth and life. As gardens begin and flowers bloom, so do ideas and motivation around food, policy and access at the Just Food Conference at Teachers College, Columbia University, New York City.

The night before the Just Food Conference reminded me of the last day of summer vacation as a child. I would dream of what the year ahead would have in store, who my new classmates would be, the lessons that would be taught, and what adventures I would go on. The same feelings and emotions came up on the eve of the inspiring New York City food conference hosted by Just Food in partnership with the Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy. The night before, I dreamt of the food based workshops, the presenters, conference goers, lectures and connections to be made. I woke up giddy with excitement the morning of the conference—which workshops would I choose, who would I meet and what new ideas would inspire me.

Walking into the conference brought an amazing feeling—so many like-minded people coming together to talk, learn, inspire and connect around topics of food. It was a huge event, with hard working staff, volunteers and people behind the scenes, and flowed seamlessly on the large Teachers College campus. Workshops were not the only teaching points—lunch was vegan with a low carbon footprint and zero waste, as all components were composted or recycled.

I chose a seed saving workshop presented by the Poughkeepsie Farm Project, located in the Hudson Valley. The workshop was hands-on, engaging, and brought a feeling of connecting back to our roots when food was food, not modified nor manipulated.  I learned that seed saving is more than digging out your tomato seeds and letting them dry in the sunshine, and brought new ideas and seeds back to my students in Brooklyn that we planted the following week. Often I have students sneak seeds into their pockets to plant at home or in the school garden, and I left feeling more qualified to teach about the seed saving process. The image of the futuristic looking vault in the North Pole as the only place to save seeds has quickly been replaced by images of houses, apartments and schools.  We can all take part in sustaining a future of quality food and health starting with just seeds.


The conference closed with a keynote from the women of Rise and Root Farm, rooted in farming, food, and connecting and inspiring communities. The presentation was playful—each woman telling her story and talking about the farm, all while bringing us on their journey through their mission and work.

I left bursting with energy, ideas, stories and information—have you ever felt so inspired you wanted to shout from the rooftops? The Just Food Conference will do just that. This conference comes once a year and brings together many people of various strengths, projects and ideas all in the name of food, just food.

The biggest thing I learned is that anyone can inspire, motivate and engage others—just share your beliefs, get a platform to communicate, talk and connect. There are people out there with similar ideas and interests—tap in and see where you go. Start small or go big, and next year I’ll see you at the Just Food Conference! But until then, connect about food, policy, recipes, books, films, markets and more over at Foodstand.

Event Recaps


April 7, 2016

Is It Just About Food? A Day At the Just Food Conference
by Noni Vaughn-Pollard @darkchocolatepeanutbutter

Photo credit: @simplywithout

Photo credit: @simplywithout

On Sunday March 13th, the Just Food Conference at Columbia’s Teachers College brought together people with good food expertise—from high school students to urban farmers. The day provided information about nutrition education, urban agriculture, food policy and food business for anyone familiar with the good food movement. People were filled with enthusiasm to learn and discuss with others about our food system.

One of the seminars I attended focused on maintaining optimal liver health. Andrea Beaman, a holistic health coach, discussed how traditional Chinese medicine can help us to de-stress our liver and our overall physique. I’ve learned about the basic functions and significance of the liver in school, however I’m unfamiliar with Eastern medicine’s views on the human body. I thought it was fascinating that in Chinese medicine inflammation in the liver affects other parts of the body such as the eyes or the skin. For instance, she discussed how itchy and tired eyes are a sign that the liver is overworked. She emphasized, “A cup of warm water with lemon is a great way to help your liver to detoxify your body!” To help the liver, Beaman also suggested avoiding fried foods, eating small meals throughout the day, eating sour and astringent herbs and foods, and drinking dandelion and milk thistle tea. Since the liver is a magnet of stress, she suggested yoga, meditation, and engaging in creative activities like coloring. She even showed us how to build energy in our body by tapping our body with our fists. Overall I enjoyed the talk and learned to appreciate my liver for its daily hard work. For more information, you can visit Andrea Beaman’s website.

Learning what different cultures can teach us about our relationship with our bodies was a significant takeaway from the seminar. I think some people tend to stereotype Eastern medicine as a hippy phenomenon but I feel that keeping an open-mind about how different cultures treat their bodies can help us as well. It’s ironic since many of us are aware of the benefits of Eastern medicine. For instance, Indian cuisine uses turmeric in their cooking and the Japanese love miso, two foods that Americans are now raving about for their nutritional benefits. Eastern medicine has always been classified as “alternative medicine” however it feels like it is becoming the new normal in Western culture. I would like to know from others—who uses traditional Chinese medicine for healing, exercise and nutrition?

I’m glad that the Just Food Conference sponsored this event on liver health because it was a topic that interested a wide array of people. I enjoyed listening to Andrea Beaman—she had an extroverted personality and was happy to answer any questions from the audience. And I feel the conference had a strong focus on changing the image of the good food movement to a more diverse one—one that included female urban farmers of color. I’ve always had a concern over the image of good food, but I was definitely satisfied with the various speakers and audience members I saw at Just Food.