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Beyond the Kale: Thai Chili, Cricket Flour and Other Bushwick Coop TEDx Treats

If you've ever shopped at the Bushwick Food Coop, you know that no trip to its tiny storefront at The Loom would be complete without at least one conversation about food

Food Coop Member and and Chef Leighton Edmonton serves red quinoa and Thai Chili, both meat-free and meatful.

If you've ever shopped at the Bushwick Food Coop, you know that no trip to its tiny storefront at The Loom would be complete without at least one conversation about food. Maybe you'll get some advice about how to prepare Hakurei Turnips, or perhaps you'll be presented with an argument for why you should avoid products that contain carageenan. Even cynical epicure Eddie Huang has had the Bushwick Food Coop klatsch experience, as evidenced in the latest episode of his Fresh Off the Boat series (it's sort of delightful how into it he is). Call it oral tradition or call it foodieism; either way, after a few visits you'll come to count on it.

RT @tedxmanhattan: Get to know the 17 extraordinary #TEDxMan speakers changing the way we eat http://t.co/GsZV1TvNE7 pic.twitter.com/dCJSx0y0iz

— Ecocentric Blog (@EcoCentered) February 27, 2014


— TEDxManhattan (@TEDxManhattan) February 28, 2014

Those culinary heart-to-hearts are why the Coop was an ideal spot for this past Saturday's cozy all-day event: A projector and sheet were set up outside the Coop's door, and members brought folding chairs and spread themselves out on the floor to participate in a live stream viewing party for TEDxManhattan's conference, Changing the Way We Eat.

Michael Rozyne @RedTomato_RT on how great, local food can compete with durable, global food. -Joe #TEDxMan pic.twitter.com/zg1G2vHVoJ

— Chipotle (@ChipotleTweets) March 1, 2014

As many of you may know, TED stands for technology, entertainment and design. TED Talks are the branded term for the company's signature high-energy, high-production lectures, and the series, which turns 30 this year, has become a cornerstone of startup company culture and many a college student's procrastination routine. TEDx events, while similar, are affiliated but independent and operate on a not-for-profit basis.

"My favorite crop is still organically grown citizens." Stephen Ritz on growing green in Bronx schools #tedxman pic.twitter.com/XFOfEFVA

— Sustainable Table (@eatsustainable) February 16, 2013

Saturday's TEDx event was the 4th annual food-centric TEDxManhattan, and it was primarily coordinated by the executive director of ChangeFood, an advocacy group launched last year that aims to educate the public about key issues of the US food system. However, the nature of the conference was that of a meeting of the minds. Speakers corporate and charitable, old and new both took to the stage and provided sponsorship. The result was a series of talks that were part pitch and part edutainment, some of which were a lot of fun. Here are a a few of our favorites.

Sam Van Aken's tree of 40 fruits. No filter. No photoshop. Just good old fashioned tree grafting #tedxman pic.twitter.com/EqLymaUBFf

— Noah Kaufman (@IamNoahKaufman) March 1, 2014

Sam Van Aken's Tree of 40 Fruit is part art and part agricultural preservation. The tree, which graced the stage at the Times Square Center where the conference was held, bears a panoply stone fruits because it's received 40 different grafts. It's pretty, and also makes us eager for summer. Watch Sam describe the project in more detail here:

Art in agriculture with @urbanplough #TEDxMan pic.twitter.com/8PSkFvbZGi

— HeritageRadioNetwork (@Heritage_Radio) March 1, 2014

There were a lot of 'policy people' who presented, so it was super refreshing when Matt Moore of Urban Plough took the stage. Matt, an artist and fourth-generation farmer from nearby Phoenix, Arizona, is the founder of the Digital Farm Collective and has worked on lots of visual projects that celebrate the relationship of farmers to their land. The image above shows crops planted using the plan for an Check out the remarkable timelapse video of growing sqash in the Lifecycles project on his website, which he showed during his talk because, as he noted, when one is describing what is remarkable about farming, "words won't cut it sometimes."

Megan Miller's talk is the one you should listen to if you only watch a single lecture from the conference (and, if you have more time and are curious about the rest of them, they are all available here). She's the founder of Bitty Foods, a San Francisco-based company that makes twee, gluten-free baked goods out of crickets ground up into flour. She's not the only person out there making insect cuisine--in her talk Miller gives a nod to David Gordon's Three Bee Salad (which sort of looks like quinoa to us), and Brooklyn is home to Exo, a cricket-based protein bar company--but she makes a damn good case for why we should make the switch to bugs. Are you convinced?

Saru Jayaraman of Restaurant Opportunity Centers United gave a sobering talk on a very different aspect of our food system: the service industry workers whose rights fall outside of legal protection that most American employees are subject to. She stressed that establishments that force their staff to rely on tips for the majority of their income benefit from policies that need major reform, and directed the audience to the ROC's National Diner's Guide app, which provides information about wages and benefits at popular restaurants. Bushwick doesn't appear to be on Diner's Guide Map yet, but this could very well be our year, right guys?

And the note we'd like to leave you on is Nikki Silvestri's positive, eloquent message to the crowds. Silvestri is the Executive Director of Green For All in Oakland, California. We're going to be keeping an eye on her--we get the feeling she's going places.

Up next: Nikki Silvestri with "The Complexity and Rich Experience of Building True Allies While Working to Create Change" #TEDxMan #hendpg

— Tina Hayashi, RD (@tinahayashi) March 1, 2014


Empathize, impact, intention, being with the problem, and taking responsibility without shame. Loving Nikki at #TEDxMan

— SustaintheFuture (@SustaintheFutur) March 1, 2014

So next time the Coop hosts a viewing party, schedule in an hour or two to check it out. If nothing else, it makes for some excellent conversation about good food--and that's enough for us!


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