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SXSW Interactive 2013

Food Fight: Web Tech as Battleground for the Local

Americans have never been more interested in where their food is coming from, but how is this impacting the economy, our environment and public health?
Industrial Agriculture has driven much of the U.S. economy for the past sixty years, but a growing movement of individuals, families, farmers and organizations are demanding accountability from Big Food, as human and ecological health are depleted by the systems currently in place.
Web-based technology and communications are now the battlegrounds for mindshare, market share and public participation in what has become a mass movement. What tools and tactics are local farmers and food producers using to spread their messages into an already-saturated marketplace dominated by an agriculture reliant on big-budget corporate communications campaigns? We will showcase national and local-level examples of sustainable farmers and food-makers competing and winning business by emphasizing traceability and using an authentic voice.

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  1. What has happened in the national marketplace to raise questions about the long-term sustainability of our highly consolidated food system, and are consumers actively taking part in a disaggregated food economy--if so, in what ways are we seeing this manifest in marketing, communications and web-based technologies ?
  2. Which have been the key milestones in the rise of small to mid-scale local, organic farming from a communications standpoint during the past 30 years, and what is the collective reach of the participants in today's good food movement relative to the depth and breadth of the conventional, industrial agricultural system's voice?
  3. Have any of the developments you’re seen in web-based communications and technology used by farmers been surprising, or even humorous—if so, could you give specific examples of these and their outcomes from a cultural, economic and public health perspective?
  4. Are you seeing institutions such as public schools, hospitals, government agencies and universities participating as co-creators in web technology being used to build local food systems; and if so, can you take us through a few of those platforms, from how they were honed to who paid for their development?
  5. What policy-related issues are affecting the growth of local food as a viable, scalable model adaptable to communities across the U.S., and how are both farmers and food communications professionals behaving entrepreneurially in ways that carve out market share for small business—furthermore, how do we envision this will contract or expand opportunity for social profit and for-profit enterprises in the years to come?



Susan Leibrock, Community Relations Director, Sustainable Food Center

Meta Information:

  • Tags: sustainability, food
  • Event: Interactive
  • Format: Dual
  • Track: Diversity and Emerging Markets
  • Level: Intermediate
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