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The Future of Food in New England Focus of Citizens Panel at UNH June 19-21

Contact Sharon Keeler
UNH News Bureau
(603) 862-1566

June 10, 2003


DURHAM, N.H. -- When it comes to food people need to be more than simply consumers. So says a panel of 15 citizens meeting to discuss the "Future of Food in New England," June 19-21 at the University of New Hampshire.

"We tend to take food for granted giving little thought to where or how our food was grown or how government policy, advertising or business consolidation influences the items we put in our grocery carts each week," says Tom Kelly, director of the UNH Office of Sustainability Programs and one of the panel organizers. "Citizens have a responsibility to get involved in shaping their food and agriculture system."

Comprised of people from all over New England, the citizen panel will examine how the current food system affects farmers in the region, what foods are found in stores and restaurants, public health, the environment and local communities.

Following two months of study, panelists will seek answers to such questions as: How are New England farmers, consumers and communities affected by trends to larger, fewer, more concentrated food production and retailing systems? Does the loss of local farms and farm land result from our food choices? Should we maintain a critical mass of food production in the region as a matter of public policy?

Experts in agriculture, food economics, nutrition, food marketing, consumer behavior and food policy will confer with the citizen panel Thursday, June 19, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday, June 20, from 9 a.m. to noon in the Community Room of The Gables.

After deliberating on expert testimony, the citizen panel will report their findings and make recommendations to other citizens, policy makers, regulators and the food and agriculture industry Saturday, June 21, from 10 a.m. to noon.

The public is invited and encouraged to attend all sessions.

Experts include: Richard Rogers, professor of resource economics (food marketing and managerial economics) and provost, University of Massachusetts, Amherst; Jane Kolodinsky, professor and chair of community development and applied economics, University of Vermont, Burlington; James Putnam, senior VP for financial services, First Pioneer Farm Credit, Enfield Conn.; David Salmonsen, congressional relations/ legislative counsel, American Farm Bureau Federation, Washington, DC; Kathy Ruhf, director, the New England Small Farm Institute, and coordinator, Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, Belchertown, Mass.

Directions to UNH are at the Web site www.admissionscd.unh.edu/visit/directions.html. Gables parking passes are available at the Visitor Information Center.

For more information contact: Citizen Panel, UNH Office of Sustainability Programs, 206 Nesmith Hall, 131 Main Street, Durham, NH 03824-3597, (603) 862-4088.

The Citizen Panel on the Future of Food in New England is a joint program of UNH's Office of Sustainability Programs and Cooperative Extension, with support from The Nathan Cummings Foundation. It is modeled on a method developed in Denmark to engage ordinary people in a process of study and deliberation about difficult and controversial social issues.

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