I returned from The James Beard Foundation Food Conference in New York City last night physically exhausted but mentally exhilarated from two days of speakers, panels, and performances that stuffed my mind full of important, inspiring information and ideas. The theme of the conference was “Is Better Food the Prescription for a Healthier America?” and I took pages of notes that now need to be sifted through and organized. In the upcoming days, I’ll be writing about various organizations and ideas that stood out to me, but I wanted to start with this.

At the end of the conference we brainstormed as a group to come up with a “prescription plan” for creating a healthier food system. Each table had a large piece of paper that looked like a sheet from a doctor’s prescription pad. We were asked to come up with two or three plans that might be part of a cure for the unhealthy food problems plaguing our country. Ideas were shared with the group at large, and the papers were collected for the foundation to work from.

Before brainstorming, we were reminded that Michael Pollan had mentioned earlier in the conference that it may take “lots of experiments” to find out what will work when it comes to getting healthy food to people and getting people to want to eat it. Out of the dozens of ideas that were generated, perhaps some of them will become the experiments that continue us on our way to a healthier food system.

What did my table come up with? The youth and young adults from the The Bigger Picture Campaign we were introduced to during the conference had blown us all away with their performances of poems about their food realities.

One of the poets at the conference was Joshua Merchant, a poet, educator and performer. The poem he performed was “Product Of His Environment,” and you need to hear this poem. I’d encourage you the first time to just listen to the poem and not watch the video – sort of like reading a book before you watch the movie made from it. They’re always two different experiences.

The Bigger Picture Campaign is a “collaboration between Youth Speaks, and the University of California, San Francisco Center for Vulnerable Populations designed to combat the rising epidemic of Type 2 Diabetes by empowering youth to change the conversation about the disease, and work to change the social and environmental factors that have led to its spread.”

Based on our reaction to what we saw from The Bigger Picture, one of my table’s prescription plans was to use videos like this and get more made. It was our thought that powerful videos like this, created and performed by youth who have experiences to share and messages to voice, could be very effective in educating and calling youth and adults to action.

Of course, the only way these videos are seen and heard are by people sharing them, so I challenge you to share this video on your own social media pages. Or, go to The Bigger Picture YouTube page and take a look at the other powerful videos of poems that young adults have created and performed and choose the one that strikes you the most.

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Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Youth poetry about food experiences will blow you away
The Big Picture Campaign is empowering youth to change the conversation about Type 2 diabetes with poetry that could help solve our country's food ills.