Background image of brightly colored deep red and golden beets sit piled on a table

Food Forums: Engaging in Our Food System

This three-part event series was designed to engage leaders in digging deeply into the challenges and transformation of our regional food system. Thank you for joining us.

The Pacific Northwest has made leaps and bounds toward creating a robust regional food system, but some of the greatest hurdles lie ahead. From processing and distribution to scale-appropriate infrastructure and institutional purchasing, addressing these challenges will require many actors working in close collaboration.

The Food Forums, presented by Ecotrust and Whole Foods Market, are designed to bring together leading thinkers to dig deeply into the mechanics of the regional food system, stirring up opportunities for closer relationships and shared initiatives. Together, let’s kick-start the transformations we need to bring better food to all eaters, while improving our agricultural economy and environmental wellbeing.

fishing ropes and baskets stacked up

Local Catch

A talk with award-winning author Paul Greenberg

Read a recap of the event here.

One in five people on the planet depend on the ocean for their main protein source and livelihoods. However, at current harvest rates, our fisheries could collapse by 2050. How can we ensure reliable access to sustainably caught seafood? And how can we protect the livelihoods of community-based fishermen into the future?

Paul Greenberg on the Atlantic seaboard

James Beard award-winning author of the bestseller Four Fish, Paul Greenberg is a leading voice for uncovering critical issues for our fisheries. In his new book American Catch: The Fight for Our Local Seafood, he describes how the seafood industry is adding more and more seafood miles to our dinner plates, while impoverishing small fishing communities. Greenberg joins us as our keynote speaker, bringing his questions and concerns to bear on Pacific Northwest fisheries and communities.

Joining Greenberg on a moderated panel will be fisherman Reid Ten Kley of Iliamna Fish Co., Whole Foods Market seafood coordinator Eric Viegas, and Port Orford fisherman Aaron Longton of Port Orford Ocean Resource Team and the Communities Fisheries Network.

Following a Q&A session with our panelists, you will have the opportunity to connect with speakers and attendees over drinks and bites from Bamboo Sushi using fish donated by Iliamna Fish Co. and Port Orford Sustainable Seafood, alongside hors d’oeuvres from Whole Foods Market and drinks from Commons Brewery and Dry Soda. This event is presented in partnership with Wild Salmon Center.

healthy hens sitting on grass on perches in a mobile hen house

Chicken & Egg

Can we scale sustainable meat?

Read a recap of the event here

Recently, some of the largest school districts on the West Coast came together to ask: Can we afford to feed children antibiotic-free chicken? Based on emerging science on the health impacts, they agreed: We can’t afford not to. They began searching for a regional producer and came up high and dry.

For the past six months, they’ve been working with Ecotrust to dig deeper and find a solution. Their experience begs the question: What does it take to scale up sustainable meat production so that better meat — raised with more humane and environmentally sound practices — can become available to people from all walks of life.

We looked at what is keeping sustainable meat and egg producers from scaling up. What pieces of the consumer-education puzzle are missing? How does animal welfare and the science of antibiotics fit into the picture, and how can we prioritize sustainable practices while building this sector of the food economy?

Our Panelists

William Betts, VP of Purchasing at Whole Foods Market
Gitta Grether-Sweeney, Nutrition Services Director at Portland Public Schools
Gail R. Hansen, DVM, MPH, Senior Officer at Pew Charitable Trusts
Aaron Silverman, former poultry farmer and founder of Tails & Trotters

This event was presented in partnership with Burgerville.

Boxes of tomatoes, eggplant and chard shown from above

Opening the Black Box

Rebuilding our food infrastructure to serve regional farmers and eaters

Read a recap of the event here

Everything we eat moves through an elaborate, multifaceted process that is little understood — we call it the food system. It appears removed from our daily lives, yet it impacts our environment, families, communities, and economies.

At the final event in this series, we dove into the unknown and unveiled the results of a one-year study Ecotrust has undertaken to understand our region’s food infrastructure and identify obstacles to creating a robust regional food system. Download the executive summary or the full report here.

We invited experts to discuss how entrepreneurs are working to create new markets and how funders are approaching strategic investments with the whole system in mind. How can we leverage our collective skills and expertise to create systemic solutions that better serve all regional eaters?

Our Panelists

Denise Breyley, Pacific Northwest Forager at Whole Foods Market
Jeff Harvey, President and CEO of Burgerville
Natalie Reitman-White, Senior Director of Organizational Vitality and Sustainability at Organically Grown Company

This event was presented in partnership with Organically Grown Company and the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

Thank you, event partners

Whole Foods Market logo Burgerville logo Wild Salmon Center logo