Critic's Notebook

The James Beard Foundation Food Conference Looks Amazing This Year

Subject: Why do some trends last while others fizzle?

By Kathryn Robinson July 21, 2016

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Gopnik debating Jaffrey? Yes please.

Image: Adam Gopnik

The seventh annual James Beard Foundation Food Conference is enough to tempt me to New York City October 17 and 18, where panelists will explore the creation and arc of food trends and their impact on the food movement.

Food trends like the ascendant concern about food waste. “Using food waste and other issues that are now trending, we’ll unpack the way interest and enthusiasm for a topic build to become a widespread concern, an impetus for behavior change, a business imperative, and ultimately a social movement,” says a press release.

Inspecting the life and potency of food trends is chewy enough. But it’s the way JBF is choosing to inspect them that promise to make this conference pop: Speakers will draw on other trend-focused industries, like fashion and design, to look at why some trends last and others fizzle.  

Unexpected speakers like Fashion maven Tim Gunn, who will talk about the way trends in fashion impact individual behavior. Or Indian cuisine expert Madhur Jaffrey and New Yorker writer/Francophile Adam Gopnik, who will debate the issue of whether food trends have lasting value.

Or, most exciting to me, longtime gay rights leader and president of marriage equality advocacy group Freedom to Marry (and personal hero) Evan Wolfson, who will present lessons learned from the LGBTQ movement toward strategies for the food movement.

In short, the most interesting lineup I’ve seen the JBF folks present in a while. Tickets start at $500 right here.

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