How we let our biology end up in the hands of Nestlé and Unilever and General Foods, we can leave to cultural historians to figure out, But we know now that in order to take back the ownership and responsibility for our health, and the biological integrity of our oceans and our land, we have to take back our mouths.…and take back our taste buds from those who would use them to accumulate financial capital and return it to those who create biological and social capital — away from people who steal the future and to those who heal the future.
–Paul Hawken, at the 2010 Sustainable Foods Institute
Last week the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sustainable Foods Institute, the invitation-only portion of its annual Cooking For Solutions conference, brought together food and environmental journalists — including Grist’s Tom Philpott — with scientific experts, sustainability-minded chefs, nonfiction authors, and others. In a two-day series of panels, they discussed the Gulf oil spill and the generally pitiable state of the ocean’s health, as well as sustainable aquaculture and agriculture practices and genetically engineered seeds. They also practiced a special kind of conference doublethink: nibbling on giant cookies while decrying the obesity epidemic and snacking on seafood — Green List only, of course — under the accusatory eyes of the aquarium’s denizens.
Sample the conference’s best soundbites via this Cooking Up a Story highlights reel, which includes speakers Paul Hawken, nutritionist Marion Nestle, chef Rick Bayless, and the event’s most controversial panelist, UC Davis plant pathology professor Pamela Ronald, coauthor of Tomorrow’s Table: Organic Farming, Genetic and the Future of Food: