The Savory Institute was honored to be invited to UC Berkeley’s prestigious Edible Education 101 course. The course was started by author and journalist Michael Pollan, who is best known for his book “Omnivore’s Dilemma.” The course is open to undergraduate and graduate students across disciplines and also open to the public. There are about 500 students in the course and have about 200 additional audience members from the general public. Michael Pollan last year passed the torch onto Mark Bittman to host the course. Mark is the famous column writer of the New York Times and he is also the author of many food-related books and a fellow for the Union of Concerned Scientists.
This particular course, “Transitioning Toward Sustainable Meat Production,” included panelists James Faison, founder of Milton’s Local Harvest; Anya Fernald, co-founder and CEO of Belampo; and our own Chris Kerston from the Savory Institute.
As the discussion ensued throughout the evening course, Chris brought forth information about understanding what regenerative grazing means, methane emissions, water consumption, understanding the value of making rainfall more effective.
Afterwords there was incredible engagement from the audience. Dozens of people came forward to learn more about Holistic Management and planned grazing. The famous sausage mogul, Bruce Aidells was among them and was interested in engaging more with our work. After the event a group of students who were vegan activists came to speak with Chris about his views on meat. At first they were very intense and emotional, but Chris stayed with them and listened to each them. They had a very engaging and respectful conversation around the ethics of animal agriculture. While they didn’t agree entirely with the others position they were able to find some common ground and build from that and have a healthy discussion.
Afterwards, the panelists were all invited to the infamous Chez Panisse restaurant, which was started by author and alternative food activist Alice Waters. Alice is probably the United States’ strongest advocate for school gardens. She also has become close with the Obama family and had a big hand in the organic White House garden. She not only hosted us but joined us for much of our meal. It was an absolute honor to sit with Mark Bittman and Alice Waters along with the other panelists and discuss food and farming issues at one of the most iconic restaurants in the country.
Unfortunately this year the course is not being recorded or streamed but there was a recorded interview session in UC Berkeley’s media studio that will be used in future course-work for students on campus.
It was an absolutely magical evening and we look forward to growing collaborations between the panelists and the universities.