Food Tank recently had the opportunity to speak with Pierre Ferrari, the President and CEO of Heifer International.
Food Tank (FT): What inspired you to get involved in food and agriculture?
Pierre Ferrari (PF): I enjoy food; I need food. I have been involved mostly in the beverage industry—orange juice, wine, soft drinks. Dairy and the value chain complexities of agriculture fascinate me and surface so much of what makes us human: our interdependencies with others, the soil, water, climate, tradition, biodiversity, and the dignity of farming.
FT: What do you see as the biggest opportunity to fix the food system?
PF: Relentless data collecting, analysis, and financialization to bring attention and full transparency on how food moves from sun, soil, and seed to food on the table.
FT: What innovations in agriculture and the food system are you most excited about?
PF: The fast approaching technical solutions to both energy poverty (solar and batteries) and the desalinization of salt water.
FT: Can you share a story about a food hero that inspired you?
PF: Alice Waters. She is both a gourmet sophisticate and deeply engaged with how and by whom the food she serves so lovingly is grown and reaches her.
FT: What drives you every day to fight for the bettering of our food system?
PF: The amazing and painful inequities and inequalities that permeate the global food systems.
FT: What’s the biggest problem within the food system our parents and grandparents didn’t have to deal with?
PF: The exhaustion of the soil and building up of toxicity, allied with the unpredictability of climate change and local weather patterns.
FT: What’s the first, most pressing issue you’d like to see solved within the food system?
PF: Equity between farmers, especially smallholder farmers, and the ultimate marketers in global commodities such as coffee, cocoa, spice, vanilla, sugar, etc.
FT: What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?
PF: Avoid waste.
FT: What’s one issue within the food system you’d like to see completely solved for the next generation?
PF: Poverty trap issues like access to water, soil quality (small-scale irrigation, training), and high-quality seeds.
FT: What agricultural issue would you like for the next president of the United States to immediately address?
PF: Climate change.
Join the discussion using #FoodTank across Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!