NUSOS 2015 Keynote – Part 1

photo by amanda hermans
eth Osmund Photo by Amanda Hermans

This past Friday, Beth spoke at the fifth annual Northwestern University Summit on Sustainability (NUSOS) which is hosted by Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW). To learn more about the summit you can read the ESW’s write-up here.

As Beth had a lot to talk about, I’m going to break it into 5 parts and post over the course of the next couple of weeks. Please share these posts with your friends and add your comments to the discussion. We’ve found that the issues of food and sustainability are part of ongoing, evolving conversation; we’d love to hear what you have to say.



I’m very honored to be here today as the closing speaker. You have heard some fantastic presenters and panelists today speaking on the theme “Your Plate, Your Planet” I’m sure that, like I have, you’ve gathered a lot of food for thought, a broad understanding of some of the issues that challenge us when we talk about sustainable food – important, big picture ideas.

In closing today, though, I’ll share my story, a small page of that huge, sometimes overwhelming library of information out there about feeding the world, while maintaining the planet.

I didn’t become a farmer because I was Local Foods activist.

I became an activist because I am a farmer making my living from local foods.

Beginning as a mid-life career change, my journey has led me across the country and around the world.  It always comes back though, to the work I do on the farm, here in the Chicago area, and the choices I make in my own kitchen.

When you leave this conference today,  I want you to take those big picture ideas, and see where they lead you. You are a bright, concerned, extremely talented group of young people. I imagine that some of you will go on in life to contribute in big, important ways to that story

But not all of you will make food your life’s work.  I also want you to take a few small seeds – ideas of ways you can contribute – by the choices you make.

Michael Pollan – definitely a big idea guy in the food and environmental movements  – put is so well when he said:

Eating is an agricultural act,’ as Wendell Berry famously said. It is also an ecological act, and a political act, too. Though much has been done to obscure this simple fact, how and what we eat determines to a great extent the use we make of the world – and what is to become of it.

 Michael Polland Photo by Fran Collin 


Wendell Berry Photo by Guy Mendes

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