Ten Questions with Fred Kirschenmann, Distinguished Fellow at Leopold Center

From foodtank.com by Lani Furbank
Ten Questions with Fred Kirschenmann, Distinguished Fellow at Leopold Center

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 Fred Kirschenmann, Distinguished Fellow at the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and President of the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, who will be speaking at the summit.

Food Tank (FT): What inspired you to get involved in food and agriculture?

Fred Kirschenmann (FK): I grew up on our farm in North Dakota, was introduced to organic agriculture by a student of mine, and just got captured by the possibilities in all that for our food and agriculture of the future. I returned to our farm in 1976 to convert it to an organic farm and have been involved in food and agriculture issues ever since.

FT: What do you see as the biggest opportunity to fix the food system?

FK: The greatest opportunity will be the fact that future challenges (depleting resources, climate change, etc.) will make it necessary to transform our current food system to a regenerative, resilient food system that mimics nature.

FT: What innovations in agriculture and the food system are you most excited about? 

FK: The new millennial generation of young farmers who are determined to operate out of a new social, ecological, and economic paradigm that will transform our food system and our food communities.

FT: Can you share a story about a food hero that inspired you?

FK: David Vetter, the student who first introduced me to organic agriculture and is now a successful organic farmer and food processor (The Grain Place) near Marquette, Nebraska. David has been a visionary leader and played a key role in the development of organic agriculture and food systems in the plains.

FT: What drives you every day to fight for the bettering of our food system?

FK: The health and well-being of our grandchildren!

FT: What’s the biggest problem within the food system our parents and grandparents didn't have to deal with?

FK: The end of cheap energy, climate change, depleting natural resources, and degraded soils.

FT: What’s the first, most pressing issue you’d like to see solved within the food system?

FK: Restore the biological health of our soils and restore biological and genetic diversity.

FT: What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?

FK: Become active “food citizens.”

FT: What’s one issue within the food system you’d like to see completely solved for the next generation?

FK: Incentivize farmers to adopt the Resilient Agriculture practices that would cultivate “food systems for a changing climate” that Laura Lengnick demonstrates is already being practiced by early adopter farmers throughout the United States.

FT: What agricultural issue would you like for the next president of the U.S. to immediately address?

FK: Promote a soil health restoration project in the U.S. that can serve as a model for the kind of practices that need to be incorporated globally—a way of putting the U.N. International Year of Soils 2015 into practice, and then follow with initiatives that can begin to restore our biodiversity by promoting the 2016 U.N. International Year of Pulses.


To find out more about the event, see the full list of speakers, and purchase tickets, please click HERE. Interested participants who cannot join can also sign up for the live-stream HERE.

Want to become a sponsor of the Food Tank Summit? Please email Bernard at Bernard@foodtank.com

Want to watch videos from previous Food Tank Summits? Please click HERE

Sponsors for this year's Food Tank Summit in Chicago include: Almond Board of California, Annie’s Inc., Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition, Blue Apron, Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago, Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Clif Bar & Company, Driscoll's, Elevation Burger, Farmer’s Fridge, Food and Environment Reporting Network, Inter Press Service (IPS), Niman Ranch, and Organic Valley. More to be announced soon.

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