Our Heroes is a weekly series that highlights the work and the daily lives of people who are making major changes in the world of food, water and/or energy.
"Systemic changes are needed to disrupt the current horrific state of industrial farming and food system. Food needs to be efficient and enjoyable again." Meet one of this year's TEDxManhattan speakers, Shen Tong. An entrepreneur and founder of Food-X, Shen will discuss the skills and funding needed to help disruptive food innovators create lasting change in our food system.
Meet Marcel Van Ooyen, executive director of GrowNYC, who will speak about "the 99% food problem" at this year's TEDxManhattan event in March. GrowNYC's is working to scale up local food distribution to make local less niche, more mainstream, by helping "family farmers to access wholesale distribution channels that make up 99% of the food that enters New York City."
"(W)hen you are confronting entrenched power, the legal wins are often preceded by defeats and can come at great personal expense to those on the front lines. This is certainly true in the food movement, which is still in its nascent stages." 2015 TEDxMenhattan speaker Michele Merkel is an environmental law advocate at Food & Water Watch.
Meet Kendra Kimbirauskas, CEO of the Socially Responsible Agricultural Project (SRAP). As one of this year's TEDxManhattan speakers, Kendra will address why, despite a more educated consumer audience, the US is experiencing unprecedented growth of factory farms in rural communities. Plus, she offers five actions you can take if a factory farm comes to your area.
"As food and nutrition confusion abounds, many are paralyzed not knowing who to trust or what to do. With a little inspiration and practical education, shifting is possible." Meet one of this year's TEDxManhattan speakers, Stephanie Sacks, a culinary nutritionist and author of the new book What The Fork Are You Eating?
"Transitioning an abandoned rooftop into a beautiful urban space - one that nourishes the mind, the body, and the soul of our hospital staff is good medicine." As a speaker at this year's TEDxManhattan, Robert Graham will explain the value of integrating traditional medicine's respect for food, cooking and farming with modern medicine.
With a background in law, business, and social entrepreneurship, TEDxManhattan speaker Stephen Reily sees the food movement's need for economic and community development tools to help meet unmet demand for local food. As founder and director of Seed Capital Kentucky, Stephen works to bolster the regional food economy in Louisville.
In the world of food photos, photographer Henry Hargreaves takes the genre to the next level. As a speaker at this year's TEDxManhattan, he will talk about his process as an artist fascinated with people's relationships to food, and why food photos are such a powerful medium.
"I'm fascinated by anyone in our industry who is working to make better food - by which I mean more carefully sourced and lovingly prepared - more accessible to more people, by making it quicker, less expensive, and available in more than one location." Meet Danny Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, whose TED talk will focus on sustainable food in restaurants of all kinds.
"When women have the right resources and tools, they have extraordinary potential. Investing in women farmers brings unique multiplier effects." Meet Danielle Nierenberg, president of Food Tank and one of this year's TEDxManhattan speakers, whose talk will focus on women farmers in the developing world.
Hip hop and food issues are intertwined. Big food corporations like McDonald's use hip hop to sell burgers and fries, but food justice activist, international recording artist and one of this year's TEDxManhattan speakers DJ Cavem wants to flip the coin. He wants to see hip hop used to promote health and fresh food access.
"The farmer and farm worker, in their wholeness as human beings, must also be part of our compassionate plan to make food systems more sustainable." Meet Nikiko Masumoto, a farmer and artist who will speak about the human side of agriculture at TEDxManhattan 2015.
Leading up to TEDxManhattan 2015, we've asked this year's speakers to introduce themselves by answering a few questions. Our first guest is Joel Berg, Executive Director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, who will speak about the true challenges in the fight against hunger.
"The goal is to one day no longer have to use the phrase 'farm-to-table,' because that's the way it should be; that's the way it used to be. I want to see it become standard again." Meet owner Eddie Wales and Executive Chef Wesley Fulmer of Motor Supply Co. Bistro, an eclectic farm-to-table spot.
"Simply put, sustainability is important for obvious reasons. We need to sustain the planet and the land we grow our food on so that we can survive." According to Chef Deborah Scarborough, owner of Black Cat Bistro, it's just common sense to use local ingredients - not only it is more sustainable, "the better the ingredients, the better the dish will turn out."
Judi Shils and Erin Schrode are the mother-daughter dynamos behind Teens Turning Green, which has helped thousands of high school and college/university students around the world organize around sustainability issues. TTG's marquis project is the "Project Green Challenge", a 30-day event each October that inspires participants and spreads the word about eco-consciousness.