Future of Food, Questions & Answers

Uploaded by YaleUniversity on 14.05.2010

I will take questions, you shout them out. I'll repeat them, so the microphone can
pick them up and.
Pepsi. Well, the question was
Yale just accepted some money from
Pepsi to establish a fellowship
I think and what do I think of that.
Well, I think it's, I think it's really nice that Pepsi wants to do better
things, I think it's a public relations nightmare for Yale,
Yale has taken plenty of industry money before and taking it from people as or
badly intentioned
as or then
Pepsi, bad syntax, sorry.
So I guess the question is what kind of work is this person going to do. If this person
does good work, then it's great. It's still a difficult public relations situation, but I, I don't see it as,
it's unavoidable. I mean I, you know, is it, is it the anti-red-centered fellowship? That's a problem. Is it the, are they really giving
money to somebody to do good work? That's, we'll see what happens.

Do I have to repeat that question? I've been told to repeat every
but everybody can hear, but is the mic not going to pick that up?
Sound guy.
I have to edit you too. You think I'm really good
at this? The question is
should we have a national core of cooking schools
funded by the government. My answer is yeah, of course, in fact I'll rapidly add it
to my list of things that we should do.
I think that,
this is what I've come to think, I've come to think that's a lot about time. I don't think
people can't afford real ingredients. I mean sure they're people who can't afford anything. I acknowledge
but I think
if you're taking the bus to work
if you have no spouse or you or your spouse is taking the bus to work, if you're
both working twelve hours a day or fourteen
and if you're taking the bus to work
in Los angeles, where it could take an hour and a half
and you're leaving the house at six in the morning and getting back to the house at eight o'clock
and you're legitimately exhausted and you're not making a lot of money,
I think the time really is an issue for you.
And I think
it's, it may be unrealistic, but I don't think it's a bad idea to talk about higher a
national cooking core,
people who will teach you how to cook, but also who will cook for you if you don't have the time
or ability to do
it yourself. Is that realistic? Maybe not,
but it doesn't mean it's not a good idea.
If you stop there, I can repeat the question.
Any thoughts on the war in salt, on salt particularly in New Your. I think salt is a bit of a red herring.

I think the enemy,
perhaps that's a bit strong, but I think the problem is processed food because if you look at where
most people who have problems with salt are getting the salt, it's from processed foods, so it goes back to
I mean I don't mean to,
pardon me, I don't mean to single out cheetos, but you know, you're talking about food that has
this huge quantity of salt. People who salt their food, cook their food from scratch and
salt it at home do not tend to use too
much salt. So the enemy is not salt, the enemy is letting other people put the salt
in your food because especially as they try to maybe reduce fat and reduce calories
you need something there to make it appealing to people and that's something is salt,
so you're going to increase the amount of
salt. I think it's a little
misguided and I think it's drawing people's attention
away from issues that I believe to be more important.
I don't, I'm, I'm really high on taxing a lot of things at this point. Salt is not among them.
So I would tax sugar before I would tax salt. I would tax processed food in general before
I would tax, I mean I don't, can't imagine getting to the point where salt tax is going to pass. So
they had that in Rome, didn't they?
How about the gentleman who's so far back I can barely see him?
Right, your question
is sort of what killed the local farm? Well, there was never a policy against companies buying one another. So, where there didn't need to be a new
policy enabling companies to buy another, I think the real question is what made mass production
of food
profitable enough to attract
really huge companies and want to gobble up
smaller farms? And, you know, part of that is obviously technology
and I'm, I'm hesitating here because I'm going to miss a couple of points, but let me hit the points that I can remember
or let me hit the points that I don't miss.
If you're able to ignore the fact that you're not farming sustainably, which has been the
case in the United States for the past fifty or sixty years, if you're able to ignore that, and therefore
postpone environmental and health
to a later date,
then you can farm in an unsustainable and,
what most of us would
agree is a horrible manner
that becomes quite profitable to do so if you're willing to suck all the nutrients out of the
soil to replace them with chemicals,
if you're willing to have half your top soil washed down into the Gulf of Mexico
or with those chemicals poison the Gulf of Mexico,
and if you're willing to poison the workers who were working on this land all in the name
of profits,
and you're further willing to let your grandchildren or great grandchildren
bear the costs of this because we're still not bearing the true costs of this,
then mega-farming can be quite profitable and that's how things have stood.
There's a second thing, as I am saying I'm probably forgetting something, but there's at least a second
thing that
made industrial farming profitable and that was the subsidization of commodity crops. So that's been well
many, many people, but basically
there is government subsidization of corn,
wheat, soy,
rice, and
two or three other crops,
that is,
make, could make the difference between a crop being profitable and a crop being nonprofitable. So,
we need to end farm subsidies, we need to end those corn farm subsidies, but I think more importantly,
we need to look at what is sustainable farming,
what is not going to destroy the earth,
perhaps not in our lifetimes
perhaps not our children's lifetimes,
but probably
in our grandchildren's lifetimes
and the, the,
the other talk that I sometimes give
is about sustainability and about
the fact that industrial food is really responsible
to a large extent for global warming,
for, for part of the public health crisis
and for
certainly a great deal of the environmental crisis.
Right now we use about seventy percent of the arable surface of the globe
for industrially raised livestock whether that's directly or indirectly. So about seventy percent of
all farm land in the world
is used to directly or indirectly produce industrially raised livestock.
The projections are that the amount
meat that gets eaten in the world is
going to double by 2050.
You can't double
seventy percent of land that's being used because you get a hundred and forty and the land isn't there.
So this kind of stuff
needs to change.
And you know, I'm torn when I give these talks
whether to talk about
and sugar-sweatened beverages and juke food
because it's a, in a way, it's a smaller part of the picture,
but in a very real way, it's a part of the picture where actual progress is being made.
I don't see that actual progress is being made in
reducing the amount of industrially raised livestock that Americans are consuming. If I did, I might be
focusing more on that. I think it's super important, but I'd like to see progress now and then.
And in the soda world, there really is progress and I think we're going to see,
I think everyone is going to see it
this year
in 2010. This is the million-dollar, excuse me for interrupting you.
How can the big food companies make money marketing stuff that's not juke?
Is that your question? I'm sorry.
I, I, I.
I don't think change has come in this country,
I don't think change has come in this country from stockholders doing the right thing.
I could be wrong, but I don't see it.
Look, these companies' job is to make money for their stockholders. So, they're making money for their stockholders,
stockholders are happy, if you don't like Phillip Morris, you sell the stock, you don't try to change Phillip Morris as a stockholder anyway.
I can't answer the question.
It's a question I just, I've been asking everyday. If I, as soon as I have the answer,
believe me.
But here's the thing,
electric cars were, were possible a hundred years ago,
but electric cars were not profitable a hundred years ago.
Electric cars are going to be profitable now. Why are they profitable now? Because gas guzzlers
are becoming less profitable. So there's this kind of
thing going on here.
Is there a way to make it
so that carrot cakes are less profitable
than carrots? The only thing I can think of is you tax the hell out of
carrot cake. Carrot cake's maybe a bad example, but you know what I'm talking
And taxes are unpopular
and it's,
you know, it's kinda hard to stand up here and say tax, tax, tax because clearly the
majority of American people are not that fond of taxes, but, but
this is about social engineering
and I don't know a better way to do it. I can't envision a better way to do it and as soon
as someone clues me in and I'll be happy to spread the word, but no one has and
way smarter people are spending way more time than me thinking about this.
So that's the best answer I can give you
Is this side of the room challenged? Yes ma'am.
The observation is that inner cities
don't have supermarkets and,
and inner-city markets don't have good food
and that perhaps
Philadelphia would be better off giving incentives to supermarkets to open in inner cities
instead of taxing soda, right. That's a fair summary, don't you think?
And it's interesting that you say that because Pennsylvania
is leading the country in subsidizing supermarkets and opening
in inner cities and the Pennsylvania model, am I getting this right?
The Pennsylvania model
is being mimicked all over the country I think even in Connecticut. I think there's some action
here on this, no? But there is action around the country on
what Pennsylvania did, which was set aside a bunch of money to
say to supermarkets, "if you're willing to open in inner cities,
we are going to subsidize you." I mean now this was a, you know, this was a part of my talk. I'll
say it again.
I think it's important to make sure that there's decent food available
to everybody whether that means subsidizing supermarkets to go into neighborhoods
or directly making certain that people
are provided with good food or subsidizing farmers markets, as some states have done,
making your food stamps worth more to farmers market than it is elsewhere. All of these
things I'm completely in support of all of these efforts.
Become politicians.
Well, so the question is what can young, what fields should young people think of going into
in order to
work towards these admirable and noble goals? I mean I would say first,
I would, I'm, I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir here, but I would say first that learning how
to cook is really important
because we all have to have our own personal food policy and your own personal food policy
begins with cooking and if you don't have time to cook,
I think you need to examine where your time has gone.
If you legitimately don't have time to cook after that,
I, I don't know what to tell you, but most people can make time to cook at least
some of the time. So that's number one.
Where should you go? Is this a public health issue? Should you be doing what,
you know, there's a high-ranking executive
at Pepsi now, who came from the World Health Organization, who
evidently thinks he's borrowing from within. I find it hard to believe, but
he seems well-intentioned.
I'm going to have to think about that one. I don't really have a great answer for that question. I'm sorry. Ma'am.
I think that, I this question. Some of you obviously think it's amusing. The
question is, is there a proportionate means, beans to rice that's correct
and is there a kind of bean
that's better than others. I would say if you're eating beans and rice,
you're doing great. That's really my answer.

I think the proportion of beans to rice is whatever you want to be. I think the kind of
bean is the kind that's going to get you to eat more of them.

I think that the whole complete protein thing about having,
you have to have
rice with, brown rice with beans and you have to eat them at the same time is
a notion that's been
pretty much disproven. I don't think that protein
is, is particularly an issue in the United States when ninety-five percent of our population
have, ninety-nine percent of our population,
most of us get too much of it. So I
would say eat the beans and rice the way you like them and
that's, that's really my considered answer.
Now, sir. Yes.
What are my thoughts on organic fruit and do I cook with it
or them?
I have
no, well I guess it's not real, I can't say this. I was going to say I have no problem with organic food.
My problem with organic food,
my problem with organic food. Let's look at what organic food does well. Organic food presumably protects
the earth,
protects workers,
who are not exposed to herbicides and pesticides.
Maybe a slightly higher nutritional value than non-organic food.

it's more in accordance with nature, shall we say.
But what's the problem with organic food?
I was just trying to see if I had any organic food here.
Is Kashi organic?
Yes or no? No, it's all natural. Okay, here's the problem with organic food:
there's a lot of organic, you can have organic that's bod.
So I don't want to choose - we just had this discussion this morning, I have this discussion
a lot. I've been waiting for you actually -
I don't want to choose between, as I did this morning,
Quaker granola and -
what? Thank you - Cascadian
granola, when I look at the nutritional profile and they're both
the same, although, in fact,
to be, to be perfectly
fair, I believe that Quaker had less sugar,
but Cascadian Farms had a little more fiber.
So they were, but they were roughly equivalent and
neither of them tasted any good by the way.

So I don't want to stand, stand here and say unequivocally
organic food is good, 'cause it's not.
So the organic food has potential and some organic food is good,
but if you're choosing between
an organic hamburger and a non-organic apple, the apple is almost always going to be the
better choice. And I, so I wind up
sounding like a scoundrel who's against organic foods, which I'm not but I don't think it's the most
important thing. I wouldn't go so far as to saying
it's a red herring like I think salt is a red herring,
but I think
the reason that
organic food has become so popular, and this goes back to this question, is that the food
marketers saw an opportunity for tremendous profits in a very specialized upscale market
and they seize it. And they did not say
this spirit of organic food, as we know,
is whole foods. The spirit is rebuilding the earth. The spirit is providing people with great nutrition.
They said here's an opportunity to make money by growing organic food.
So they set up great farms in Chile that didn't use pesticides and herbicides, which is very nice,
but you're still flying bad grapes from Chile up to here
and now you're calling them organic. Grapes is not the best
example because
in a way there's nothing wrong with grapes,
but Cascadian Farms granola is a really good example 'cause it's crap.
I, I'm, I haven't had this many questions in a long time.
we're were
Do you have any explanations of how that would occur? I, as I said before, I don't know how it's going to occur.
I can't, I could do things if I could mandate them, but I can't mandate anything, so
I guess I see my role as to throw ideas out there and hope other people like them and
if they do, maybe we make enough noise
so things begin to change or things change more rapidly.
It's the best I can do. I'm actually completely powerless.
Sir. This is affirmative action for men because there are so few of you in the audience.
You know, I love this argument. This is the argument that we were all happier and better off when we were
hunter gatherers. And I really love this argument, but
it's a game. It's not, we're, it's not going anywhere.
We are not going back to being hunters and gatherers. And we can't with six
or seven - whatever it is - billion people on the planet. So,
I, I've read that stuff and Jared Diamond wrote,
wrote about that I think twenty years ago. It's been around for a while.
And I think a lot of fun,
but I can't do it
and I don't know too many people who can.
So the question is
what can be done to bring good foods into bodegas? Is it worth trying?
You have the answer to the is it worth trying 'cause you're doing that work.
Do I think it's a great idea? I think it's an awesome idea.
Do I think it will have an impact? Yeah,
I think clearly it, it will have an impact. It's small, but I think every step we're
gonna take is small.
there's your answer to what to do when you get out of school. Yes.
It is kind of ironic, isn't it? Yeah.
So what do I recommend as a teacher to help their,
help your kids eat better? I think
you can point out that irony, but I, I also think that this year is a, is a
key year
because it's a year in which school lunch programs can actually change.
And, and I ordinarily don't say write your congressman, but this is, this year I think writing your
congressman, of course
you don't have to write your congressman. Obviously, you can call.
You can use your congressman's Facebook page or twitter or whatever, but -
and they, you know, congressman tweet incredibly.

Well, I dunno why I should find that incredible, but
this is the year we can actually make some progress in school lunches and maybe you won't
have to be embarrassed when you're up there.
I did speak to a,
I spoke to the
I spoke to the western division of something called something like the National Conference
Food Service
Dinning Hall
Managers. Anyway,
a group of people who run college dinning halls.
And this was the western, everything-west-of-Denver kind of
group. And
they had the same problems, but they,
they did say
kids are making more demands. And there's, and there's an interesting -
Yale, of course, was early on in this - but there's an interesting phenomenon
of people going into colleges and saying,
"We want better
food than this." And there has been some activity in
college dining halls
to make things better and I wonder if we can see things
becoming better in the
I think it's eighty percent of college dining halls that are run industrially, that is, Sodexo Marriott
and companies like that actually provide the services to the dining halls. So now you have
companies that really are involved in,
that really are big food
being made demands on
to serve better food to their clients. So, I'm curious to see what'll happen with that. That's another sort of
rapidly developing thing.
I'm going to take three more questions 'cause I'm, my voice is going. Ma'am.
Education is clearly important, but I think

crap, to use a technical term, more expensive than good food less expensive is,
is, in part an answer. Also making things available, I mean we don't know what
people will buy if you put it in front of them, but
it is clear. There's an interesting study - sort of amusing and discouraging story -
a couple of weeks ago,
that showed that if you tax bad food,
people will eat less of it, but if you subsidize good food,
people will use the savings that they -
you get this, right? You can see where this is going. - people will use the savings from that
to buy junk food.
So I think that you need to have both things happen at the same time.
You have to
disincentivize, as I said before, you have to demonize bad food the way we demonize
And then at the same time you have to make good food more widely available,
more appealing, which you can do by teaching cooking, by,
by education obviously
and less expensive. Two more.
Thank you. The question is what do I see as the role of
the Food Network and the internet in
helping people learn
how to cook. I think the Food Network and the Internet are really really different things.
Well, no, nothing brilliant there, but
I don't think the Food Network has been super productive
and super helpful in teaching people to learn how to cook. I don't think that's their role. I don't think they
want that to be their role.
Julia Child, Graham Kerr,
the people I watched on television when I was fourteen or whatever it was, they actually
tried to teach you how to cook. You don't see a lot of that on television.T
The web is really different because of, as we all know, the web is really democratic, so,
you know, my stuff,

which is done through the auspices of
The Times, which has a,
an actual budget, which is,
which is done by professionals and, and
as a front man if someone who is reasonably well known and so on
is a good example of how a big company and a sort of name-brand guy can do something
halfway decent online, I think.
But there are people doing stuff online that's really, really great that they're doing
for free or, you know, they're doing with their own money

and I think there's a lot,
I started looking at things 'cause I'm
re-launching my website and I want to link to people
I like, so I started to look at other people's videos and there's a ton
of great stuff out there that really is directly teaching people how to cook. Not to mention
that you can find anything you're looking for. So if you decide you want to make,
you know, Indonesian food tonight, you can go make Indonesian food tonight. You can find that stuff, which is really quite incredible, so.
Okay, who's last?
Yes, look at that. You're, you're the only hand up. It's perfect.
I'd rather talk about the person food policy thing. I mean I find whole foods, I'll talk about both.
The question is why am I not a fan about whole foods, but also, let's just wrap up, let's just
wrap up with a little personal food policy stuff.
I think whole foods's a little cynical,
more than a little cynical. And when I walk into one, all the ones in Manhattan or most of the ones in Manhattan are
two levels and you walk in and the top level is all prepared food and if you want an apple or
a quart of milk you have to go downstairs.
So it's kind of this classic supermarket
trick of getting you
to walk through the high profit
stuff in order to get to the real stuff.
I also don't like that when they sell conventional food, which they sell a lot of, it's
two or three times expensive as it is everywhere else.
Okay, that aside, I will
credit them for their,
for having the most progressive seafood policy of any supermarket in the United States, of any
supermarket chain in the United States,
so it's not a black-and-white situation. I tend to
sometimes overreact things, but.
I just, here's my personal food policy and this is all summed up in Food Matters, which is
the, the book that I came out, my most recent book, which came out last year.
I try to eat, I try to eat
sustainable meat.
I try to eat
sustainable fish, although there is very little of it left.
But the biggest effort I make is to eating less of that stuff that I did. In other words, if I
were eating, the average American eats half a pound of meat a day
or a, a, a and, and more if you count diary, but half a pound of meat a day,
which is about seven times as much as most people should be eating, that is, we should
be eating half a pound of meat
a week.
If you were to go and say "I've changed all of my, I've changed my diet, I'm now eating
sustainable foods, but I haven't changed anything else about it, again I don't think you're doing anybody any favors.
I think
the key is to say "Imma eat less meat and Imma take that money and the meat that I
do eat, Imma eat sustainable -
naturally raised, whatever your like, organic, local, hahaha - I'm going to eat that,
but I'm going to eat a quarter of what I used to eat."
And I think, that's an, I think, I,
here I, I'm advocating this, I think this is an important thing.
I think it's, I think the, the real key
is my, the little seesaw,
and I think the seesaw looks like this. The, the,
my favorite slide in this who presentation
is the pepperoni pizza with a little slice of spinach.
We eat that way.
we eat ninety percent
of our calories come from junk, processed foods, and animal products and ten percent of our
calories or maybe less come from unprocessed fruits and vegetables.
We need to make the seesaw look like this.
So we need to make it look that other cute pizza with
the whole big plate of spinach and the Cheetos wedge in there.
We need to be eating
unprocessed foods primarily and unprocessed plants primarily, so fruits, vegetables,
legumes - whatever kind you want - whole grains,
and nuts and seeds.
Those are the things we need to focus on. To the extent we can make our seesaw look
like this instead of like this,
we're doing really well. And to the extent for those of you, who think that this is
insane - which I agree, it's extremely challenging -
I, I personally believe that if
most people in this country
went like this,
it would be a sea change. It would be a revolution
to see people getting twenty or thirty percent of their calories from unprocessed fruits and
vegetables in this country
would be an enormous change and
that's thing, that's the thing anyone can do.
That's the thing anyone can afford, as the gentleman in the back said before.
That's the thing, that's the word that needs to spread and that's.
You know, I think we need to attack this issue both ways, from the bottom up, which is to change
our own eating habits and to change the eating habits of our family and friends and blah, blah,
blah, and then
by, by doing our own lobbying, by doing our own advocacy work, by trying to get
a soda tax passed for example, by trying to get
good foods into supermarkets, by trying to get supermarkets into all neighborhoods, and by,
you know, attacking this thing
from every conceivable angle,
you know, maybe there's hope for - what? -
my grandchildren. I don't know. It's too late for me. I can eat any ole way, it wouldn't matter anymore.
So 0:31:42.880,0:31:43.130 thank you. And, a again I'd like to thank the Rudd Center for sponsoring this.