Glenn Roberts
Farmer and Owner of Anson Mills
01:45

Obama’s Food Policy Smells Good

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The president treats sustainability and organic food issues as more than a talking point.

Glenn Roberts

In 1998 Glenn Roberts, a Charleston-based historic restoration consultant and thirty-year veteran of restaurant and hotel concept design, took his career in an entirely new direction.  He founded a company, Anson Mills, to grow, harvest and mill near-extinct varieties of heirloom corn, rice, and wheat organically, and re-create ingredients that were in the Southern larder before the Civil War. Anson Mills now works with 30 organic growers in six states to grow a variety of native heirloom grains.

Transcript
Question: What advice would you give to the President or the Secretary of Agriculture?

Glenn Roberts: One, it’s a fabulous idea to think that the President, any President, would have time enough to stop and consider sustainability beyond a talking point and beyond getting someone into the Cabinet that is driven in this direction.  And frankly, the current administration seems to have done that on a fairly credible scale.  They brought in some caring people on that level and I think those people have a voice. 

Certainly in the White House, there’s a lot of sustainable agricultural advocates for what goes on with state dinners now and things like that.  They’re actually thinking through food systems when they bring them forward, they’re also thinking culturally.  And I haven’t mentioned this, but if I had the ear of anyone in government, including the President or the Secretary of Agriculture, I would say that the culture of food is probably as, or more important than the production of food.  It’s something that we’ve ignored in our country for a lot of reasons.  We have a food science revolution that runs parallel to the talking points that I am delivering right now.  And that food science revolution is based on things that we could barely recognize as food 30 years ago.  So, I think that we have to think about the culture of food; the fact that food actually is an important part of our culture and not just something that fuels the culture in one way, shape or form.  Food as fuel is a dangerous concept.

Recorded on April 28, 2010
Interviewed by Priya George


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