5 Must-See Foodie TED Talks

Listen to five inspiring (and short) discussions about important food issues.

TED Talks
TED Talks

I’m a huge TED Talk fan, and if you’re not, lemme suggest you take a gander at some of the scary, funny, informative, fascinating talks loosely centered around the themes of Technology, Entertainment and Design. Most are under 15 minutes, with speakers pondering some of the biggest issues of our day, in plain, easy to understand thoughts.

Think of them as an amuse bouche for the brain.

I’ve put together 5 of my favorite food-related talks — ranging from a perspective of genetically modified food to surrealist cooking and the over-fishing of the oceans. Along the way you may find some other ideas worth spreading.

1. Dan Barber: A foie gras parable
At the Taste3 conference in 2008, chef Dan Barber tells the story of a small farm in Spain that has found a humane way to produce foie gras. Raising his geese in a natural environment, farmer Eduardo Sousa embodies the kind of food production Barber believes in.

2. Peter Reinhart: The art and craft of bread
Batch to batch, crust to crust … In tribute to the beloved staple food, baking master Peter Reinhart reflects on the cordial couplings (wheat and yeast, starch and heat) that give us our daily bread. Try not to eat a slice.

3. Pamela Ronald: The case for engineering our food
Pamela Ronald studies the genes that make plants more resistant to disease and stress. In an eye-opening talk, she describes her decade-long quest to isolate a gene that allows rice to survive prolonged flooding. She shows how the genetic improvement of seeds saved the Hawaiian papaya crop in the 1990s — and makes the case that modern genetics is sometimes the most effective method to advance sustainable agriculture and enhance food security for our planet’s growing population.

4. The four fish we’re overeating–and what to eat instead

The way we fish for popular seafood such as salmon, tuna and shrimp is threatening to ruin our oceans. Paul Greenberg explores the sheer size and irrationality of the seafood economy, and suggests a few specific ways we can change it, to benefit both the natural world and the people who depend on fishing for their livelihoods.

5. The global food waste scandal
Western countries throw out nearly half of their food, not because it’s inedible — but because it doesn’t look appealing. Tristram Stuart delves into the shocking data of wasted food, calling for a more responsible use of global resources.


And a little bonus…for what happens after we eat.
Molly Winter: The taboo secret to better health
Our poop and pee have superpowers, but for the most part we don’t harness them. Molly Winter faces down our squeamishness and asks us to see what goes down the toilet as a resource, one that can help fight climate change, spur innovation and even save us money.