Every year in late July, 30 young professionals from all over the world, ages 22 to 32, already engaged in different facets of sustainable food come together to discuss, idea-share, and write a new vision for our broken food system at Eating City.
The yearly gathering takes place in Northern France at La Bergerie, an organic farm within Vexin Français Regional Nature Park that was once the location of inspiration for many impressionist painters, including Van Gogh, Cézanne, and Daubigny. With 100 applications this year, the selection and steering committee is led by Maurizio Mariani, co-founder of Eating City and co-author of City Food Policies: Securing Our Daily Bread in an Urbanizing World. Based in France, the international scope of keynote speakers, workshops, and lessons is one of the most important aspects to the organizers.
This year, speakers included Teresa Corçao, chef and entrepreneur; Kris Moon, Vice President of the James Beard Foundation; Clementine O’Connor, Sustainable Food Systems Consultant for the World Resources Institute; Roxane Fage, the UNESCO Chair “Alimentation du Monde”; Boris Boincean, soil scientist; Katie Wilson, Former Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA); and Betina B. Madsen, Chief Procurement Officer in the Copenhagen Municipality and a specialist in the procurement of sustainable and organic food.
Their deep dive into city procurement, health and wellness in schools, and food waste touched upon a myriad of institutional problems facing our food system. In partnership with the James Beard Foundation, three young American chefs added a new element of gastronomy: Jamilka Borges of Pittsburgh, PA, Kwame Onwauchi of Washington, D.C., and Sara Kramer of Los Angeles, CA, led the students in a cook-off which judged concepts based on sustainability and public food service guidelines in addition to taste, presentation, and flavor.
In its fifth year, Eating City’s week-long urban food studies immersion culminates with a signed declaration. The selected participants from 17 countries focused their address on sustainable gastronomy in our food system, after spending several nights cooking together and for each other as part of a challenge to create meals and restaurant concepts for public food service, a new addition this year in partnership with the James Beard Foundation. Their mandate asks compelling questions to a variety of stakeholders across the food system including government, policymakers, consumer and civil society, chefs, cooks, farmers, and producers.
“This declaration is a call to action. Critical collaborations, opportunities, and issues are needed to reduce the environmental impact of food, improve food business practices, and increase nutritional consumption.”