Last Friday, September 30, I had an opportunity to speak at the Future of Urban Food Systems Summit held at the University of Houston Downtown campus. This was not my usual audience and really not my normal program topic, but it was really interesting, engaging and informative. What a wonderful group of people and many if not most, were young – much younger than me!
My topic was organic agriculture, but the title was Certified Organic: What is it and what is its value? I talked a lot about the Texas organic program including a lot of the information contained in the blogs you can read on this website. I think most of the audience were surprised at how easy it is to be certified and how many myths they had heard and believed about the organic program. The City of Houston has very few certified organic farmers and has the least organic handlers of all Texas major cities. Maybe they are about to turn that around!
On the program with me was Dr. Joe Novak, Faculty Lecturer at Rice University and before that of Texas A&M University. Joe is well known and well respected for his horticulture knowledge but more importantly for his use of gardening to improve human health. He did a fantastic job showing us all the important roles gardening and plants play in helping us all live and live better.
Also on the program was Dr. Patrick Stover, Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics and Director of the Institute for Advancing Health through Agriculture. I have known Dr. Stover for several years and his passion for using agriculture to solve health issues in humans is fascinating. I believe he had the audience on the edge of their seats!
The day included breakout sessions and lots of discussions. To say the least it is just a start to what will be coming over the next few months and years in Houston!