Toronto area Future of Food Forum a resounding success!

The Greater Toronto Area (GTA)’s first Future of Food & Farming Forum: “2041 – Changes & Choices” on October 6th will be remembered by attending delegates as an array of rapid-fire “master talks” packed with excitement, information and innovation. The Honourable Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs opened with solid support of the need to bring agriculture’s issues of tomorrow to the table today, stating that it couldn’t happen in a more appropriate setting than Country Heritage Park (CHP)’s picturesque Gambrel Barn at Milton. Mr. Leal commended CHP for having the insight and awareness of the need to create such a cross-discipline podium, in recognition of the diversity within the world of agriculture and food.

CHP’s CEO Jamie Reaume thanked the Minister and other attending MPP’s and dignitaries for their support, while stressing that their support was only the first step. While the need for discussion of the future is critical, it is his belief that the ideas and plans to be heard on the podium that day would ultimately be the seeds of direction for success in the future. “This forum is just the first step of a plan,” stated Reaume, “everyone voicing support of these concepts of innovation needs to be prepared to roll up their sleeves and work towards their successful implementation.”

Former Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Mr. Steve Peters, as moderator, set the example for a “speaker-filled” day with a brief yet highly informative introduction. Then he let the delegates know what was to come, by explaining the future would be molded by exactly the type of individuals about to take the stage, adding the ideas and opinions the audience would hear, could well be history in the making, and that all in attendance would be witness.

From that point on, the mind-expanding information would not stop until the final speaker left the stage. Whether it was Paul Uys’ tale of success through consumer awareness, and that the recognition of answers to future challenges is readily identifiable if you listen hard enough to your customers, or, Evan Fraser’s recommendation to not take media hype or doomsday prophets at face value, because proven global patterns identify human nature’s ability to meet challenges, and Barry Watson wrapped up the morning with an inside glimpse of how social values influence consumer choice ultimately driving change – it was clear, delegates were getting what they came for.

Keeping up this pace, Danielle Gould uncovered a multitude of new and innovative companies using the powers of social media to make or break new products in days versus years; Mike Lee then took it to another level with a conceptual Grocery Store of the future containing features that would rival the replicator found on Star Trek. Andreas Düss, showed the audience how human nature has been and always will be the number one driver; Doug Alexander, possibly the most motivating of the day, clearly identified that the obstacles now and in the future are overcome by questioning the validity of all accepted practices and not to be satisfied with “good enough.” But the icing on the cake came from the only farmer on the podium, Ryan Marshall, when he explained that his success comes from data, data, data and that he would not be satisfied until he had an IP address for every plant on his property.

The information from the day was overwhelming at the least, but, definitely reassuring that the future is going to be anything but dull. Some powerpoint presentations have been posted to the Country Heritage Park Webiste. Stay tuned for information on the next forum in the
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