At the 2016 Forward Food Summit I had the rare experience of witnessing the entire front range food system in one room. The diverse array of speakers, representing everything from urban farms to youth groups to grocery stores, gave a full picture of the complexities involved in feeding a city. Centering on food insecurity, the summit addressed issues of systemic discrimination, community organizing, and collaborative solutions. I walked away with an expanded mind.
It is unusual to experience community gatherings that encompass such a broad range of topics. The common wisdom of today’s world is that specialization is best. Organizations should focus on one issue. Meetings should be limited in breadth and linked to specific outcomes. The idea of a Food Rescue, on the other hand, runs counter to this trend. Food Rescues focus on environmental justice, the intersection of the physical and social worlds. These organizations understand the link between the health of the overall Earth system and the wellbeing of individuals. The Forward Food Summit is an opportunity to explore that expansive understanding of the world. It is not about the system or the organization or the person. It is about all of those things coming together.
It is about how wages affect food deserts, and how food deserts determine spending.
It is about how toxic waste affects gardening, and how gardening can rejuvenate blighted land.
This year, the Forward Food Summit is about the intersection of food and gentrification. As huge percentages of Denver’s long-time residents face displacement due to unaffordable real estate prices, the Forward Food Summit will address this issue on all levels.
No matter what your background or area of expertise, whether you are involved directly with these changes or just an interested neighbor, the Forward Food Summit will have something to offer you.
It’s that kind of (un)conference. Expansive. Illuminating. Visionary.