Friday, February 6, 2009

Sustainable Agriculture: Farming For the Future Conference

Four staff members are attending the 18th Annual Farming for the Future Conference run by PASA (Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture) in State College this week. Close to 2000 participants have walked through the conference doors this year and the sessions are informative and chalk full of resources. We are passing a few on to you today, but stay tuned to the blog for our return, when we will pass on many more things we have learned while at the Conference.

If you have not heard of the book Stuffed and Starved by Raj Patel, and you are interested in the way we eat and how we need to change, run right to your bookstore or online ordering process and grab it. Raj Patel was the keynote speaker at the Friday morning conference opening festivities, and delivered one of the best keynotes we've heard in a long time. Raj Patel is a visiting scholar at the Center for African Studies at the University of California at Berkeley, a Fellow at the Institute of Food and Developmental Policy, and a Research Associate at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. With degrees from Oxford, the London School of Economics and Cornell University, Patel has worked for the World Bank, interned at the World Trade Organization, consulted for the United Nations and been involved in international campaigns against his former employers.

His book, noted above, discussed the global food system and explains the paradox of why one billion people are overweight, yet 850 million are still starving. In today's environment of food-related issues, and economic disadvantages facing our farming communities and food growers, Patel is an advocate for the sustainable and organic farm movement.
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For those of you who are farm owners, ranch owners, food packers, food producers, processors and distributors, you may be interested in examing information about the Food Alliance at http://www.foodalliance.org/. The Food Alliance, an Oregon based non-profit association, has a certification program geared to fruits, vegetables, dairy products, meats, grains and processed products. A Food Alliance Certification reduces consumer concerns for health, food safety and the environment, and creates market incentives for more sustainable agricultural and food handling practices. The Alliance has established standards for farms and ranchers, as well as standards for processors and distributors. Certification helps add value to your initiative. The Food Alliance will be forging a partnership with PASA in the near future. We will keep you posted on this activity.

Stay tuned next week for more information and resources we will pass on once back from the conference!!

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