Monday, October 27, 2014

Nicole Civita presents on Food Justice at Conference in Wyoming

Visiting Assistant Professor Nicole Civita delivered several well-received presentations on food justice, food insecurity, food waste and recovery at the 2014 Consumer Issues Conference — Food: Policies, Perceptions, & Practices.  During her brief trip to Laramie, Wyoming, Professor Civita delivered a thought-provoking lunchtime plenary address that explored food justice and the power and limits of consumer-driven reform.  She also contributed to two panel discussions regarding food waste and recovery and served as a feature discussant after a screening of the documentary, A Place at the Table.

The Consumer Issues Conference is an interdisciplinary project organized by several University of Wyoming. Colleges, including Law, Agriculture, Health and Business and supported by outside partnering organizations, including Colorado State University Extension and the Wyoming Department of Health. This annual conference is “designed to focus on public policy issues affecting consumers and the consumer marketplace, and to inspire people to be active in bringing about change in the legal and market environment.” In its 14th year, the conference put a spotlight on food — a product which every consumer requires multiple times a day. Conference organizers, speakers and attendees investigated and engaged in a lively dialog about a broad range of consumer issues related to food including food insecurity, food marketing, advertising, labeling, and grading, nutrition and health, food safety, food waste, and the relative geographic span of food systems.

During her plenary address, Choosing Food Justice, Professor Civita sought to synthesize the wide range of issues that relate to food and to view them through the lens of busy, hungry consumers juggling the many demands of modern life. She surveyed the scope of food justice as a discipline and a movement, explored the personal, market-driven, and legal dimensions of food choice, and identified specific areas where advocates for a more equitable food system can productively engage with the law and press for reform.  

Representing our Food Recovery Project, Nicole illustrated the magnitude of America’s food waste problem and situated this problem next to our growing and unacceptable food insecurity problem in the piktochart titled Wasted: The Consequences of Undervaluing Food | Piktochart Infographic Editor.

She then suggested food recovery as an elegant way to address both issues, taught attendees about the legal protections for food businesses and non-profits who engage food recovery and charitable feeding, and introduced several remaining legal drivers of food waste and obstacles to food recovery.

Professor Civita was delighted to connect with many articulate advocates for and visionary contributors to a more just, health-promoting, and sustainable food system at the conference including the Administrator of the USDA’s Food & Nutrition Service, Audrey Rowe, Consumer’s Union Senior Scientist, Dr. Michael Hansen, and Director of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization's Liaison Office for North America, Nicholas Nelson. The LL.M. program is excited to report that these luminaries have accepted our invitation lecture to our students via video-conference in the near future, allowing us to continue leveraging our new technologically-enhanced classroom and distance education capacity to connect our candidates with leading experts in agricultural and food law, policy & practice.

Nicole extends her appreciation and gratitude to the organizers of the conference, and especially to Professors Dee Pridgen & Virginia Vincenti, for putting together such a well-thought out conference, encouraging dialog at the nexus of food system and consumer related issues, and being wonderful hosts.

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