On “Heritage Radio on Tour,” “Speaking Broadly” host Dana Cowin visits Food Tank President Danielle Nierenberg at the Slow Food Nations Leader Summit in Denver, Colorado. Nierenberg talked about the challenges and urgency of telling stories in the food system. “What we do at Food Tank comes out of this sense of desperation and urgency. We’re seeing so many stories that can be replicated up and out in so many ways, but they weren’t getting the attention and investment they needed,” says Nierenberg. “Everything we do is in defiance of that cultural, social, and political paradigm that still holds true in agricultural development across the globe.”
At the summit, Nierenberg collaborated with Niman Ranch farmers and the National Young Farmers Coalition to highlight the experiences of young farmers, who continue to produce the nation’s food with low political and financial support. Nierenberg notes that sharing these stories is not only a privilege for Food Tank, but a duty: to push audiences to listen to people at the center of the food system. “[My] knowledge around food and agriculture has come from sitting on people’s porches or in their fields with them and just listening. I think we don’t do enough of that, especially in this very politicized, turbulent time,” says Nierenberg.
The conversations tackling issues in the food system—like farmer welfare, food security, and migration—may bring typically opposing views together. Nierenberg notes these uncomfortable conversations have the power to join people in the search for food solutions. “We all need to be more uncomfortable and have more uncomfortable conversations to talk to people who we don’t know or don’t agree with,” says Nierenberg. “And not necessarily to come to common ground, but to realize that nothing is black and white, especially when you’re talking about the food system.”
“We need to be talking to everyone and bring everyone to the table to force them to that uncomfortable zone so that we can at least have the dialogue that is necessary to move the food system forward,” says Nierenberg.