Five Questions with Winrock International’s John Fisk

From by John Fisk
Five Questions with Winrock International’s John Fisk

Food Tank, in partnership with the George Washington University, is hosting the 1st Annual Food Tank Summit in Washington D.C. on January 21-22, 2015.

This two-day event will feature more than 75 different speakers from the food and agriculture field. Researchers, farmers, chefs, policy makers, government officials, and students will come together for panels on topics including food waste, urban agriculture, family farmers, farm workers, and more.

Food Tank recently had the opportunity to speak with John Fisk, Director of the Wallace Center at Winrock International, who will be speaking at the summit.

Food Tank (FT): What will your message be at the Food Tank Summit?

John Fisk (JF): Scale up local food systems in ways that impact more acres, more farmers, and more citizens while keeping the values front and center.  Build social enterprises that do well while doing good. Stronger regional food systems can foster stronger regional economies.   Food hubs as agents for self-determination.  Where do we stop and not sell our souls.

(FT): How are you contributing to building a better food system?

(JF): We are helping to build the capacity of social enterprises across the country who give small and mid-size farmers opportunity, who promote the use of sustainable production practices and who supply more health and affordable food to communities.  Specifically we are:

  • Operating the National Good Food Network and the National Food Hub Collaboration to build capacity for the development and expansion of food hubs and regional food systems
  • Developing a Group GAP approach to food safety for small and mid-size farms and hubs
  • Expanding the transition to grazing as an environmentally sustainable and economically viable animal production system
  • Building and communicating a new “good food business narrative” to support regional food systems investment

(FT): What are the biggest obstacles or challenges you face in achieving your organization's goals?

(JF): Rebuilding a healthy food infrastructure in this country:  The dominant food and agriculture model has driven farmers off the land, consumers to the hospital and our soil and water resources out of balance.  Building alternatives to this for farmers and consumers that have scale is complicated.  It takes significant investment and risk on the part of farmers and others in the food value chain.

(FT): Who is your food hero and why?

(JF): All the farmers that are finding ways to be price makers and not price takers, especially those using and developing ecologically based production practices.

(FT): In 140 characters or less what is the most important thing we can all do to help change the food system?

(JF): Make connections: Be a conscience consumer, speak on behalf of your beliefs, vote for a healthy food system, talk to your farmer, and stay connected to nature.

The event is SOLD OUT, but interested participants can sign up for the live-stream HERE. Or JOIN US for dinner and a reception to celebrate Food Tank's two-year anniversary on January 21st at 5:30pm EST. This event will also sell out fast, REGISTER NOW.