Student-Led Symposium Highlights Food Issues at F&ES

yale food symposium roast
The first day of the Yale Food Systems Symposium ended with a pig roast at the Yale Farm.
There's a persistent theory out there that science has overcome Malthus's dire warning that population growth will eventually outpace the planet's ability to feed everyone, says Mark Bomford, director of the Yale Sustainable Food Project. Maybe two or three times, depending on the source.

Of course, achieving a sustainable food system that feeds humans worldwide isn't that simple, Bomford told attendees of the inaugural Yale Food Systems Symposium (YFSS), which opened at Kroon Hall on Friday. "To claim this as an unmitigated triumph requires the kind of optimism that perhaps only a statistician can muster," Bomford said. "[And] if a university is true to its mission, that is not actually an ethically defensible way to deal with a complex problem, by ignoring all the nooks and crannies and dark shadows."
This event was dedicated to Jonah Adels, one of the original student organizers of the symposium, who died on Oct. 2. His classmates say his approach to the study of food systems exemplified the goals of the symposium, and that his ideas "are embedded" throughout the conference. "If we can all live even a little bit more like he did, we can make a real change in the world," said Maclovia Quintana B.A. '11 M.E.M. '13 one of the event organizers.
Shedding light on some of these dark shadows was one of the reasons a group of F&ES students organized the Yale Food Systems Symposium. The two-day conference — which attracted researchers, practitioners, theorists (and eaters) from across the country — aims to bring together voices across many disciplines to explore the path to a more sustainable food system.
Highlighting innovative projects, new food research, and non-traditional collaborations that are pushing conventional boundaries, the conference also looks to identify areas where the worlds of food research and professional training interact.
"We started to think about what is the next step in building food and agriculture here… both in cultivating F&ES's unique contribution to that world, and also demonstrating that there really is a lot of amazing scholarship out there," said Adan Martinez M.E.Sc. '14, one of the event's organizers.
Ultimately, the organizers hope the symposium will become an annual event. For now, though, they are looking to infuse the campus with new ideas about food and to encourage collaboration across different areas of study. "I think it's about expanding what's possible," Martinez said, "creating opportunities for cooperation, and seeing a wider breadth of possibility in the study of food systems."
– Kevin Dennehy    203 436-4842