Ten Questions With Gene Baur, Co-Founder And President Of Farm Sanctuary
Food Tank, in partnership with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, is hosting the 1st Annual Chicago Food Tank Summit on November 16, 2016.
This event will feature more than 40 different speakers from the food and agriculture field. Researchers, farmers, chefs, policymakers, government officials, and students will come together for interactive panels, networking, and delicious food, followed by a day of hands-on activities and opportunities for attendees.
Food Tank recently had the opportunity to speak with Gene Baur, Co-Founder and President of Farm Sanctuary, who will be speaking at the summit.
Food Tank (FT): What inspired you to get involved in food and agriculture?
Gene Baur (GB): How we eat has profound impacts on ourselves, other animals, and the world around us. But in countries like the United States, we don’t think very much about the consequences of our food choices, and we unwittingly support a cruel, unhealthy, and unsustainable system. By making more mindful and conscientious food choices, we can lighten our environmental footprint and improve the lives of ourselves and other human and nonhuman animals on Earth.
FT: What do you see as the biggest opportunity to fix the food system?
GB: I think a better-informed consumer base making choices that are aligned with their values and interests is the biggest opportunity to fix our food system, and I believe information is more widely available than ever with the internet.
FT: What innovations in agriculture and the food system are you most excited about?
GB: I am very excited about innovations in urban agriculture, transforming blighted areas into more vibrant, healthy neighborhoods, producing healthy food, and creating hope and new economic opportunities.
FT: Can you share a story about a food hero that inspired you?
GB: I’m inspired by the work of Steve Ritz, a teacher in the Bronx, New York, and founder of Green Bronx Machine. He is giving kids hope and opportunities by teaching them to grow, harvest, and prepare healthy plant foods, and inspiring entrepreneurial efforts.
FT: What drives you every day to fight for the bettering of our food system?
GB: I am driven by a desire to prevent needless suffering and destruction and to create a kinder, happier world. I believe changing our food system is central to that aspiration.
FT: What’s the biggest problem within the food system that our parents and grandparents didn't have to deal with?
GB: One of the biggest problems in our current food system that our parents and grandparents didn’t have to deal with is the emergence of new, more virulent antibiotic resistant pathogens and diseases that have spawned from the irresponsible overuse of antibiotics and other drugs, as well as the extreme stress, crowding, filth, and dwindling genetic diversity born of our current factory farming system.
FT: What’s the first, most pressing issue you’d like to see solved within the food system?
GB: Industrialized animal agriculture has been allowed to spread because it is heavily subsidized by United States taxpayers. I believe removing this financial and marketing support, which bolsters an inherently inefficient and harmful system, is among the most pressing issues in our food system.
FT: What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?
GB: The most important change most people can make is to vote with our dollars and shift to eating plants, instead of animals.
FT: What’s one issue within the food system you’d like to see completely solved for the next generation?
GB: I would love to see everyone in the next generation have access to healthy, plant-based foods, and for there to be no more food deserts.
FT: What agricultural issue would you like for the next president of the United States to immediately address?
GB: The next president of the United States needs to take steps to realign food policies to support the production, marketing, and consumption of healthy, plant-based foods and to discourage the production, marketing, and consumption of processed and animal-based foods.
Kate is a Food Tank Intern, working towards her dual masters MPH and MBA. She is currently a registered dietitian in the Chicagoland area. She is passionate about nutrition, public health and improving the lives of others.
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