Inside USD

Event Examines Food for Eating, Better Living

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Several hundred people flocked to the University of San Diego’s Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice Tuesday night, all in the name of food — and food for thought.

More than 400 people sampled a wide variety of natural, organic items and were educated about concerns about big agribusiness in the U.S. and the responsibility of producing good, healthy food for all.

The event’s centerpiece was a free screening of the 2008 documentary “Food Fight” and a lively panel discussion followed that included the film’s director Chris Taylor.

Food samplings ranged from Southwest Black Bean soup, salads, organic fruits and vegetables to tempting offerings such as fresh sea bass, shrimp and pork and strawberry and vanilla yogurt and granola. Several well known national brands, including Heinz and General Mills, were present, as were a few local companies.

The audience filed into the IPJ Theatre and overflow rooms to watch “Food Fight.” It’s a critical examination of food and food culture in America, looking at how the food industry has been co-opted by corporate forces whose interests do not lie in providing the public with fresh, healthy and sustainably produced food. It delved into how American agricultural policy and food culture developed in the 20th century and how the California food movement has created a counter-revolution against big agribusiness.

The panel discussion, moderated by André Mallié, USD’s executive director of Auxiliary Services, offered an opportunity for the audience to hear about Taylor’s desire to focus on the topic, which took five years to make.

Others on the panel included Kathy James, associate professor in USD’s Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science; Gregory A. Pallaske, director of regulatory compliance, U.S. Foodservice; Jill Richardson, author of Recipe for America and Jay Porter, a USD graduate who is the founder of The Linkery Restaurant, one of the first true farm-to-table restaurants in San Diego.

Much of the debate centered on reasons for food-borne illnesses, food regulation legislation, the role of farmers and how best to handle the demands of the public when it comes to providing food. Porter and Richardson were especially forthcoming with examples of local farms that are working to be part of the solution.

James was asked about growing health care issues, including increased concern over obesity, especially child obesity, which stems from poor food choices. She said education about better nutritional choices starts at home with parents understanding more about what their children eat. James has done research on obesity, including a yearlong study with a nursing student to examine 18 Latino families from City Heights’ Rosa Parks Elementary. She has done a follow-up project in the Linda Vista area.

Tuesday’s event was sponsored by USD, USD Dining Services, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science and USD’s Sustainability Task Force. Others closely involved in the event were Slow Food San Diego and Slow Food Urban San Diego.

— Ryan T. Blystone

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