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by Michaela Koski

In school we learn more about trigonometry and chemistry than about food, however, that doesn’t mean food is any less of an important issue to start worrying about. Slow Foods Nations is an annual festival organized by Slow Food USA  that aims to provide this necessary education about food to everyone. This was my second year attending the Slow Foods Nations Conference and I was fortunate enough to attend both the conference and the Leaders Summit. As I entered the lecture hall where the summit was taking  place, I felt simultaneously intimidated and fascinated to be surrounded by food pioneers who had traveled from opposite ends of the world to pursue the same goal: improve access to food that is good, clean, and fair for all. Intimidated might seem like a menacing word, but as a sixteen year-old in a room full of culinary professionals with decades of experience, I felt my minimal experience meant I lacked the authority that the adults in the room had to take action and speak up about my thoughts on food. However, the first panel presentation during the Summit made me realize that this was not the case. 

“Who would you consider an enemy twenty years ago who is an ally now?” the moderator asked the panel of industry experts. This was quickly followed by “What would you tell your twenty year old self?” The answers to these questions were centered on the importance of small community changes on an unique incremental level like eating less meat or helping grow a community garden. Helping the world does not have an age limit and whether your platform is through student council, scouts, or even instagram followers, you cannot be too young to take even the smallest bit of action- especially if it is something you are passionate about. The panel concluded that there needs to be a “reckoning” within the food industry where chefs and consumers begin to embrace environmental and social change head on. I can be a part of that reckoning and so can you, because all you have to do is want to make a difference.

However, a reckoning comes with taking on responsibilities that might force us to step out of our comfort zone. We can not expect to have an impact or help our communities if we cling to old habits. Buying your lunch at the new trendy brunch place will not change any systems, but if enough people shop for their week at a farmers market, it will. Small community changes are the ones that make a difference, even if you feel too young to make an impact. Everyone seems naive at a young age, but you learn as you go. No matter what age you are, mistakes are bound to happen, but you can still ignite change- all you have to do is dive in.  

Photos: Michaela Koski

Edited by Aly Beveridge


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