Ten questions for Pierre Ferrari, head of Heifer International

Food Tank recently had the opportunity to speak with Pierre Ferrari, President and CEO at Heifer International, a charity organization working to end hunger and poverty around the world.

Courtesy of David Hugh Smith
Mary Briggs, a young volunteer who lives on Heifer Farm in Rutland, Mass., sits with children who are visiting with Winky the goat. The mission of Heifer International is to work with communities to end world hunger and poverty and to care for the earth.

Food Tank, in partnership with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, is hosting the 1st Annual Chicago Food Tank Summit on November 16, 2016. 

This event will feature more than 40 different speakers from the food and agriculture field. Researchers, farmers, chefs, policymakers, government officials, and students will come together for interactive panels, networking, and delicious food, followed by a day of hands-on activities and opportunities for attendees.

Food Tank recently had the opportunity to speak with Pierre Ferrari, President and CEO at Heifer International, who will be speaking at the summit.

Food Tank (FT): What inspired you to get involved in food and agriculture?

Pierre Ferrari (PF): I enjoy food; I need food. I have been involved mostly in the beverage industry—orange juice, wine, soft drinks. Dairy and the value chain complexities of agriculture fascinate me and surface so much of what makes us human—our interdependencies with others, the soil, water, climate, tradition, and biodiversity, and the dignity of farming.

FT: What do you see as the biggest opportunity to fix the food system?

PF: Relentless data collecting, analysis, and financialization to bring attention and full transparency to how food moves from sun, soil, and seed to food on the table.

FT: What innovations in agriculture and the food system are you most excited about?

PF: The fast-approaching technical solutions to both energy poverty (solar and batteries) and the desalinization of salt water.

FT: Can you share a story about a food hero that inspired you?

PF: Alice Waters. She is both a gourmet sophisticate and deeply engaged with how and by whom the food she serves so lovingly is grown and reaches her.

FT: What drives you every day to fight for the bettering of our food system?

PF: The amazing and painful inequities/inequalities that permeate the global food systems.

FT: What’s the biggest problem within the food system our parents and grandparents didn't have to deal with?

PF: The exhaustion of the soil and building up of toxicity allied with the unpredictability of climate change and local weather patterns.

FT: What’s the first, most pressing issue you’d like to see solved within the food system?

PF: Equity between farmers, especially smallholder farmers and the ultimate marketers in global commodities such as coffee, cocoa, spice, vanilla, sugar, etc.

FT: What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?

PF: Avoid waste.

FT: What’s one issue within the food system you’d like to see completely solved for the next generation?

PF: Poverty trap issues like access to water, soil quality (small-scale irrigation, training), and high-quality seeds.

FT: What agricultural issue would you like for the next president of the United States to immediately address? 

PF: Climate change.

To find out more about the event, see the full list of speakers, and purchase tickets, please click HERE. Interested participants who cannot join can also sign up for the live stream HERE.

To join us at Food Tank's São Paulo, Brazil, Summit in October 2016, please click HERE. To join us at Food Tank's Sacramento, CA, Summit September 22–23, 2016, please click HERE

Want to become a sponsor of the Food Tank Summit? Please click HERE

Want to suggest a speaker for one of the Summits? Please click HERE

Want to watch videos from previous Food Tank Summits? Please click HERE

Sponsors for this year's Food Tank Summit in Chicago include: Almond Board of California, Annie’s Inc., Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition, Blue Apron, Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago, Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Clif Bar & Company, Driscoll's, Elevation Burger, Farmer’s Fridge, Food and Environment Reporting Network, Inter Press Service (IPS), Niman Ranch, and Organic Valley. More to be announced soon.

Join the discussion using #FoodTank across Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!

This story originally appeared on Food Tank.


of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.