Our Plates, Our Planet: Creating Sustainable Food Systems

“Sometimes our issues seem so vast, but so much of what you can do can start here and now.” Anna Lappé of Real Food Media has devoted her career to understanding the intersection of food systems and climate change. At GrapeVine and PCC Farmland Trust’s June 10th event, Our Plates, Our Planet, six incredible women panelists, including Lappe, told individual stories of how they work toward more sustainable farmland practices everyday.

We know that there is so much needed change that needs to happen within our food systems, and it was inspiring to hear each and every panelist explain the waves they’re making in the restaurant and farming industry. Anna Lappé, a nationally known author, spoke about the importance of re-imagining our food systems to protect biodiversity on earth. “Our vision is to eat food that’s good for our bodies and for the land.” Lappé also spoke about how while it can seem daunting, the food choices we all make can and will make a difference — using the metaphor of being drops in a bucket.

The rest of the panel was made up of speakers from the local food, farm and ranching industries including Marjorie restaurant owner Donna Moodie, Gleason Ranch Manager Tracey Baker, Viva Farms Marketing Manager Anna Chotzen, Conservation Director of PCC Farmland Trust Hilary Aten, and Executive Director at Oxbow Farm & Education Center Liza Jaguzny.

Food systems are the driver of many big issues of our time, and transitioning farms to be resilient in the face of climate change is important in every facet of the industry. Restaurant owner Donna Moodie sources her organic ingredients from local Washington farms and creates dishes based on the seasonality of certain PNW crops. “We need to eat at places that are choosy about what they serve, and make it a primary choice in our lives, no matter where we come from,” Moodie encouraged attendees to ask more questions everywhere they eat, and make conscious decisions. Reflecting on Lappé’s metaphor Moodie said,“We’re all drops in the bucket, you can decide how big or small you want to be.”

Small farms are the backbone of the organic growing industry, as we heard Anna Chotzen speak about the opportunities Viva Farms provides to small farm businesses to become successful. She mentioned that 175 acres of farmland is lost every hour- to decrease that number we must educate small farm owners on organic practices so their farms can be resilient.

Tracey Baker of Gleason Ranch had an interesting perspective into the ranching industry, and suggested people always double check the labeling of their products. As a grass-fed beef farm, Baker works to do her best to control the process for the benefit of the animal. Baker says she is with her cattle from the moment they are born, to their very last day.

At Parsons, we have a longstanding support of organic farming and produce. We were thrilled to be able to help sponsor this event with Grapevine and PCC Farmland Trust and to hear these panelists speak so complementary of each other, it just confirms the need for more women in the organic farming industry to make change. We look forward to more thought-provoking events like this, and working with all these fantastic organizations to keep making drops in the bucket!


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