Dennis R. Dimick, executive editor of National Geographic, opened today’s discussion, Food: A Forum, by posing the question, “Why food now?”
Dimick pointed to the big questions plaguing our global food systems. He highlighted the paradox of “using landscapes to feed animals and to feed cars,” while there is increased demand for animal protein among humans. He admitted the profound implications of this behavior for our landscapes and our future are the “big unknown” and “all we know is that it is in play.” And for this reason, Dimick states we need to start talking about food.
Dimick, a professed farm kid and agricultural graduate, was excited that food and agriculture had made it onto a cover of National Geographic. Agriculture is now in an important topic among issues such as climate change, the global energy conundrum, biofuels, fracking, water, and population growth.
Globally, farming is large in scale, but it is also personal. “We want to meet the people who devote their lives to growing food that we depend on every day,” stated Dimick. Focus areas of National Geographic’s special eight-month Future of Food series were introduced to listeners. Topics of central concern are the role of Africa as the “next bread basket,” changing diets, the role of drought in agriculture, and the role of technology in growing crops.
Dimick also turned the conversation back to greater self-awareness by commenting, “We cannot just turn the lens on the rest of the world, but must turn the lens on ourselves, too. We need to understand why there are problems occurring in rural, urban, and suburban America.”
The Future of Food Forum is the first stage of a weekend hackathon taking place in Washington, D.C. Over the weekend, programmers, data visualizers, scientists, and food experts will work together to respond to the key challenges presented in today’s forum.