January 21, 2007

Out of town - Eric Schlosser keynote

Great quote today from Eric Schlosser, investigative journalist and author of Fast Food Nation. In concluding his keynote speech at the San Francisco Fancy Food Show, he wrapped up by saying "One day I hope to see 'fancy foods' not considered fancy any more, and 'specialty foods' not considered special any more."

A speaker's opening and closing are two critical aspects of a presentation. The opening has to grab the audience and hold their attention, and the closing has to leave them energized, informed, wanting to take action, and connected to the message.

Unfortunately, many speakers end their presentations with Q&A. This can kill the energy in the room and, instead of leaving the audience with the last inspiring words of the speaker, leaves them with whatever last question the speaker answered, which sometimes can be off topic or unrelated to the speaker's actual presentation.

Although Eric Schlosser ended with Q&A, and his overall demeanor was laid-back and low-key, the food industry audience was fired up enough to ask good questions, and the event ended on a note of inspiration. (I might also add that the keynote started at 8:30 a.m., which might have had something to do with some low energy in the room!)

One of Schlosser's key points is that while upper-middle-class, wealthy and educated Americans have access to information regarding nutrition and healthy food, and access to the stores to purchase it, poor communities have access to neither information nor healthy food in their neighborhoods.

By acknowledging that much or most of what is considered "specialty food" is actually nutritious and free of additives, hormones and antibiotics, he suggests that specialty foods should be everyday foods for everybody - helping the manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers of these foods understand and embrace the part they play in the big picture of improving access and affordability.

I had to be at a 7:45 breakfast meeting in order to get a free ticket to the keynote (hey, why not save the cost of a ticket AND get a free breakfast!), and I'm really beat right now. In fact, I'm not sure this post made any sense. I'll reread it tomorrow and see if it needs fixing. :-)

I'm still out of town until Tuesday, so I may not get around to posting again until I get home, but I wanted to share a little something today. More speakers to evaluate tomorrow!

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