Grazing in the Grass

On Creating a Sustainable Food System

“Buy this book!” Michael Dimock exhorts, during his conversation with Dan Imhoff, the book’s editor.

“We can – and we must – do better.”

Guest speaker Michael Dimock, president, Roots of Change, ended a thought-provoking discussion about our current food system with a message of hope. Dimock and Dan Imhoff, editor, CAFO: The Tragedy of Industrial Animal Factories, were engaged in a conversation about industrial food fallacies and facts. After 45 minutes of compelling dialogue that covered everything from the 2012 farm bill to massive 50,000-head concentrated animal feeding operations, they took questions from the audience. More than 100 attended the Slow Food South Bay November 8 event at the SLAC Café in Menlo Park.

Dan Imhoff, Peg Champion and Michael Dimock celebrate sustainability.

At the reception following the talk, attendees sampled organic winesand dined on a menu that featured a taste-test of 100% pastured beef and grain-finished beef. Epicurean Group, a sustainable food service management company, sponsored the evening event. The company donated their services and the food, designing a menu that included the same local, artisan and organic foods that they use in their own restaurants and cafés, including the SLAC Café.

Mary Clark Bartlett, Epicurean Group founder, described the difficulties facing a sustainable business like hers, “It’s a struggle – from the limited availability to the higher costs. People have become used to the taste of the high fat content of industrial beef. We try to educate our diners about the health benefits of sustainable food,” said Bartlett.

Dimock and Imhoff discussed some hard truths and shared some simple actions that individuals can take to create a healthy and sustainable food system. “Our goal is to pull back the curtain on a system that stinks,” Dimock said. He pointed out the connection that exists between Big Ag and Big Oil in a corn feedlot system that relies on petrochemical fertilizer. “Many of our current environmental and health issues can be traced back to our industrial livestock production: climate-changing emissions, ocean and freshwater pollution, diet-related diseases such as obesity and food-borne illnesses,” said Imhoff.

A healthier food system starts with enlightened eaters, and both speakers gave suggestions for ways that an individual can help change our broken system – from holding Meatless Mondays to petitioning legislators for agribusiness farm bill subsidy reforms.

For more information or to buy the book, go to
Here’s a link to the CAFO website with a list of easy things you can do to make a change: