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Posted on Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : noon

TEDxManhattan - 'Changing the way we eat' event comes to Ann Arbor Jan. 21

By Kim Bayer

TEDxManhattan Logo, Stacked, Date & Location.jpg

Do you know about TED? It's a phenomena that started in 1984 as an invitation-only conference for the world's best thinkers in Technology, Entertainment, and Design. Its mission: spreading ideas.

TED sponsors talks like the ingenious and funny Hans Rosling's "Let my dataset change your mindset" or Daniel Pink's important revelations in "The surprising science of motivation" or Carolyn Steel on "How food shapes our cities." In fact, there are many food-related TED talks.

What was once an exclusive event for the informati, technorati and glitterati has grown to encompass two annual conferences, the TED Prize (won by Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution in 2010), TED Fellows, more than 900 free (subtitled) TED Talks and the community-based version of TED called TEDx.

TEDx events are independently planned and coordinated around the world to give "communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level."

TEDx events capture the interests of a place, and bring forward the zeitgeist of the moment. Several TEDx events have been organized in Ann Arbor. Two are happening in March of 2012 (at the University of Michigan and at Skyline High School) and one is coming up this week on Saturday, Jan. 21.

The theme of the Jan. 21 TEDxManhattan event is called "Changing the Way We Eat." And Slow Food Huron Valley (of which I am a board member) is going to be hosting a free screening of the live web stream of the event.

Two speakers from Michigan are featured this year, one of whom is Ann Arbor's own Cara Rosaen, co-founder with her husband Karl, of Real Time Farms. Cara will speak on the start-up of the crowd-sourced service that Real Time Farms provides. Patty Cantrell, community organizer and journalist, who spent 12 years at the Michigan Land Use Institute in Traverse City will also speak, on "New Roads to Market."

Organizers of the live event taking place in Times Center in New York City say: "TEDxManhattan will explore the issues, the impacts and the innovations happening as we shift to a more sustainable way of eating and farming and help to create connections and unite different areas of the food movement." Other speakers for the day include:

  • Fred Kirschenmann, Farmer, Distinguished Fellow at the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University, and president of the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in New York
  • Mitchell Davis, executive vice president, the James Beard Foundation, cookbook author and food journalist
  • Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch
  • Gary Oppenheimer, founder/executive director of, CNN Hero, Master Gardener, Huffington Post 2011 Game Changer, winner of the 2011 Glynwood Wave of the Future Harvest Award
  • Dr. Robert S. Lawrence, Center for a Livable Future/Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

TEDxManhattan organizers have issued another TEDxManhattan Challenge. "We challenge you to work with a group of people in your community anywhere in the United States on a project related to sustainable food and farming. Start a garden at a senior center; start a farmers market; develop a cooking class at your child's school; create a Food Policy Council in your city. Be creative! Let us know what you’re doing to change the way you eat in your community — the project deemed the most impactful will win the opportunity to speak live on the 2012 TEDxManhattan stage."

If you are not able to attend the New York City event or any of the hosted viewing sessions, you can still watch the live webcast at starting at 10:30am on Saturday, January 21st, 2012.

From 12:15 to 1:30 p.m., the live program will break for lunch and all are invited to join a potluck and discussion with Slow Food Huron Valley. Sign up to attend at 1040 Dana Building on the U-M campus in Ann Arbor.

Kim Bayer is a freelance writer and culinary researcher. Email her at kimbayer at gmail dot com.