Creating a Sustainable Food System for All - Rancho La Puerta
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Creating a Sustainable Food System for All

Week of November 4, 2023

Why food? The power of good food to change everything
A host of books and films in recent years have documented the dangers of our broken food system—from chemical runoff to soaring rates of diet related illness to inhumane treatment of workers and animals. But advice on what to do about it largely begins and ends with the admonition to “eat local” or “buy organic.”

Oran Hesterman, author of The New York Times celebrated Fair Food provides an enlightening and inspiring vision that goes beyond our plates to the power of food to create positive social, economic, and environmental impact. Along the way, this national leader in sustainable agriculture and food systems will introduce you to people and organizations that are moving this work forward with serious benefits for eaters and growers—from bringing nutritious food to communities that need it most to fighting for farm workers’ rights.

He will also share the story of the national nonprofit he launched, Fair Food Network, with a mission to grow community health and wealth through food. Working with a diverse network of partners, Hesterman is taking on some of the toughest challenges in our food system and pioneering solutions that increase access to healthy food while creating new opportunities for farmers and stimulating economic activity. This dynamic session will help you understand the realities of our broken food system and what we can do to fix it.

From Farmer to the Farm Bill: My Journey in the Good Food Movement
How do you go from picking alfalfa sprouts to being a key proponent of a $250 million Farm Bill program that is improving the lives of thousands of low-income families and farmers? Or from sleeping in a teepee to financing start-ups that are preparing for our next economy?

Join the conversation of the decade as national leader in sustainable agriculture and food systems, Oran B. Hesterman shares his journey growing the good as an organic farmer and businessman, scientist and agronomy professor, philanthropist, author, and now CEO of national nonprofit Fair Food Network. (You may even coax the story out of him about how Bernie Madoff sent his life into an unexpected, new direction!)

Hesterman has been connected to many of the innovations at the heart of today’s food economy. And he’s still at it. The constant thread through this journey is the belief that nothing is as important to our future as food. Through Oran’s personal story, you will leave with not only a better understanding of the power of food, but also how you can be part of this change in your personal life and with your political voice.

Oran B. Hesterman, Ph.D. With more than 35 years of experience as a scientist, farmer, philanthropist, businessman, educator, and passionate advocate, Oran B. Hesterman is a national leader in sustainable agriculture and food systems and a respected partner for policymakers, philanthropic leaders, and advocates nationwide.

He currently serves as president and CEO of Fair Food Network, a national nonprofit working to grow health and wealth in our communities through food. Fair Food Network’s signature program, Double Up Food Bucks, has become a national model for healthy food incentives, and is now a featured program in the U.S. Farm Bill, signed by the President in December 2018.

Before launching Fair Food Network, Hesterman led the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Food and Farming programs, during which time he seeded the local food movement with more than $200 million in grants and investments. Prior to his work in philanthropy and nonprofits, Hesterman researched and taught forage and cropping systems management and sustainable agriculture at Michigan State University.

A former fellow in the Kellogg National Fellowship Program and the National Center for Food and Agriculture Policy in Washington, D.C., Hesterman has published more than 400 reports and articles on subjects ranging from crop rotation to the impact of philanthropy on food systems practice and policy and trends in the good food movement. He is also a certified Sage-ing Mentor and leads workshops with his wife Lucinda Kurtz, that help people discover their inner elder while gaining new perspectives on what it means to grow older in today’s culture.