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The Future of Food

September 20, 2012

The following is a guest post by Karen Kafer. Karen is a registered dietitian (RD) and Vice President of Health Partnerships-Nutrition Affairs for the National Dairy Council (NDC) with more than 25 years of corporate, nutrition and health communications experience. 

It’s great to see so much attention given to the issue of nutrition and healthy eating in America – programs such as Fuel Up to Play 60 and Let’s Move! have raised awareness of the need for a nutritious diet and exercise in a healthy lifestyle. As we move forward, however, we need to build awareness around a broader topic: food security. With the world’s population expected to grow to 9 billion by 2050, food security and its multiple facets—food production, sustainability and their national and global implications―is an issue that deserves our greater attention. In light of this, the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy in conjunction with The Washington Post and Slate magazine have co-hosted “Future of Food: Food Security in the 21st Century”—a series of events aimed at identifying roles, responsibilities and solutions to address food security.

Starting in Washington D.C. and making stops in Colorado, Arizona and Vermont so far, the “Future of Food” events have highlighted thoughts and key insights from thought leaders, health professionals, agricultural leaders and school stakeholders. Additionally, the events have served as a forum to introduce new partnerships aimed at combating hunger and malnutrition, promoting food security and creating sustainable food solutions that respect environmental and economic concerns.

In Washington D.C., the work between the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy and the World Wildlife Fund was announced, exploring the combined role of different agricultural models—big farms, small farms, organic farms, conventional farms, and so forth—in meeting the food security challenge. Additionally, a partnership between Feeding America, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and National Dairy Council was forged to help fight hunger and promote healthy food choices for the 49 million Americans who are food insecure. The partnership hopes to raise awareness of how obesity and hunger are related, educate thought leaders and consumers about ways to integrate nutrition principles in feeding programs and make a significant change in the way food insecure individuals nourish themselves and their families.

The positive momentum generated in D.C. has carried over to the other “Future of Food” events, showcasing the interconnectedness between healthy people, healthy communities and a healthy planet. We are excited about the work we’ve accomplished so far and we look forward to continuing to build awareness. With one event remaining in Chicago on October 4, our focus will turn to addressing how to increase access to healthy, affordable food, the impact of drought, and innovations to increase agricultural productivity. We invite you to join in on the conversation by using the #ThinkFood hashtag on Twitter and watch the live stream which can be found at Washington Post Live.

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