Food Tank recently had the opportunity to speak with Michael Berger, Founding Partner of Elevation Burger.
Food Tank (FT): What inspired you to get involved in food and agriculture?
Michael Berger (MB): Developing Elevation Burger’s all-organic protein supply chain was the key inspiration in getting me more involved in food and agriculture policy and practices. As we grew, my eyes became wide open to the pervasive industrial practices challenging our livestock and poultry system in the United States.
FT: What do you see as the biggest opportunity to fix the food system?
MB: Continuing to encourage and nurture farmers, processors, and end user companies to adopt the practices employed under the National Organic Program, whether or not they target actual certification under the organic program.
FT: What innovations in agriculture and the food system are you most excited about?
MB: I am actually most excited about the movement to regress to many of the more wholesome practices of our agricultural past.
FT: Can you share a story about a food hero that inspired you?
MB: Though he and I would be likely to disagree on some topics, or at least have a lively dialogue about them, Michael Pollan’s book The Omnivore’s Dilemma was probably the one body of literature that forever changed how I approach my work in the food world. This is a book that everyone who cares about more responsible agriculture must have on their “I’ve read it” list.
FT: What drives you every day to fight for the bettering of our food system?
MB: Being so acutely aware of the challenges facing our human health, animal welfare, and the planet’s health due to generally accepted agricultural practices.
FT: What’s the biggest problem within the food system our parents and grandparents didn’t have to deal with?
MB: In my opinion, it’s the factory farming of our livestock and poultry. Many of our biggest challenges with the food system today can trace their roots to the development of this scale and style of raising animals.
FT: What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?
MB: Your wallet can speak volumes to the industry. Try and purchase foods that line up with better agriculture practices. Whether that be at your neighborhood grocery stores or restaurants or at your local farmers markets. Your demand drives supply.
FT: What’s one issue within the food system you’d like to see completely solved for the next generation?
MB: Antibiotic-resistant bacteria as a result of our overuse of subtherapeutic antibiotics in livestock. We know why it’s happening. Food policy must catch up to our knowledge. While the challenge is real today, it’s the scale that it could reach in the future that is truly frightening.
FT: What agricultural issue would you like for the next president of the United States to immediately address?
MB: Overuse of antibiotics in livestock.
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