Food Tank, in partnership with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, is hosting the 1st Annual Chicago Food Tank Summit on November 16, 2016.This event will feature more than 40 different speakers from the food and agriculture field. Researchers, farmers, chefs, policymakers, government officials, and students will come together for interactive panels, networking, and delicious food, followed by a day of hands-on activities and opportunities for attendees.Food Tank recently had the opportunity to speak with Randy Krotz, Chief Executive Officer at U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance, who will be speaking at the summit.Food Tank (FT): What inspired you to get involved in food and agriculture?
Randy Krotz (RK): I grew up on a family farm in North Central Kansas. I am the 4th generation on the farm and studied entomology and agronomy at Kansas State University.
FT: What do you see as the biggest opportunity to fix the food system?
RK: We have an incredible food system in the U.S. and a huge opportunity lies within helping familiarize consumers, and those within the food movement, with how our food is grown and raised.
FT: What innovations in agriculture and the food system are you most excited about?
RK: There are numerous technologies that help farmers and ranchers on the long journey of producing food sustainably. Whether those technologies deal with improving seed, planting, crop input utilization, animal monitoring, and health or detailed soil and climate information, they all can benefit the air, water, and overall habitat on and around our farms.
FT: Can you share a story about a food hero that inspired you?
RK: My father has been working to conserve and properly manage the soil on our farm since the 1950s. In 2004, due to the availability of GMO seed, he turned our operation into what is now a 100-percent no-till farm. Meaning we do not cultivate our soil at any time. This saves fuel, labor, carbon emissions, etc.
FT: What drives you every day to fight for the bettering of our food system?
RK: My desire to have consumers knowledgeable enough about how food is grown and raised and that they can make informed decisions about their food purchases and not be taken advantage of by food marketers.
FT: What’s the biggest problem within the food system our parents and grandparents didn’t have to deal with?
RK: Hesitantly, I would say misinformation that is pushed out by individuals and organizations in an attempt to drive certain attitudes and purchase decisions by consumers.
FT: What’s the first, most pressing issue you’d like to see solved within the food system?
RK: It would be great if we could bridge the gap between consumers and their overall lack of exposure to how food is grown and raised. This would help them make informed purchase decisions.
FT: What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?
RK: From a health perspective, obviously, we need to focus on a healthy diet of nutritious foods. From a production standpoint, consumers need to familiarize themselves with sustainable food practice and what tools agriculture uses to continuously improve.
FT: What’s one issue within the food system you’d like to see completely solved for the next generation?
RK: We need to everyone to understand the tremendous benefits that technology offers in food production in both animal and crop production.
FT: What agricultural issue would you like for the next president of the United States to immediately address?
RK: Our regulatory authorities in the U.S. must be more familiar with how food is grown and raised in order to understand when regulations might be over-burdening a specific farm, production practice, or certain geography.
To find out more about the event, see the full list of speakers, and purchase tickets, please click HERE. Interested participants who cannot join can also sign up for the live-stream HERE.Want to become a sponsor of the Food Tank Summit? Please email Bernard at Bernard@foodtank.com. Want to watch videos from previous Food Tank Summits? Please click HERE. Sponsors for this year’s Food Tank Summit in Chicago include: Almond Board of California, Annie’s Inc., Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition, Blue Apron, Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago, Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Clif Bar & Company, Driscoll’s, Elevation Burger, Farmer’s Fridge, Food and Environment Reporting Network, Inter Press Service (IPS), Niman Ranch, and Organic Valley. More to be announced soon.Join the discussion using #FoodTank across Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!