Food Tank recently had the opportunity to speak with Carlo Leifert, a Professor of Ecological Agriculture at Newcastle University. Carlo Leifert will be speaking at the summit.
Food Tank (FT): What inspired you to get involved in food and agriculture?
Carlo Leifert (CL): I am from a family that had a lot of farmers, including biodynamic farmers and retailers, in it.
FT: What do you see as the biggest opportunity to fix the food system?
CL: Higher energy costs and taxes on mineral fertilizers and synthetic chemical pesticides.
FT: What innovations in agriculture and the food system are you most excited about?
CL: Precision farming (fertilizer application, mechanical weeding) technologies; marker-assisted breeding and selection methods; farmer participatory breeding and selection; and agronomy innovation evaluation methods.
FT: Can you share a story about a food hero that inspired you?
CL: Jamie Oliver’s school meals program and educational campaign, together with his excellent cooking programs! Through his influence on the United Kingdom education system, both my daughters got excited about food and what is good and bad nutrition.
FT: What drives you every day to fight for the bettering of our food system?
CL: Not sure whether it is fighting, but I try and do my bit to develop systems that produce better food, because we have a responsibility towards our children and grandchildren to leave them this planet in a way that they can still have enough food and healthy diets.
FT: What’s the biggest problem within the food system our parents and grandparents didn’t have to deal with?
CL: Pesticide residues and food additives.
FT: What’s the first, most pressing issue you’d like to see solved within the food system?
CL: The dependence on external high energy, mineral fertilizer and synthetic chemical pesticide use.
FT: What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?
CL: Eat less meat.
FT: What’s one issue within the food system you’d like to see completely solved for the next generation?
CL: Generation of shorter, local supply chains for food.
FT: What agricultural issue would you like for the next president of the United States to immediately address?
CL: Reduce the “unhealthy” influence of large agrochemical and breeding companies on political decision making.
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