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Bite-sized stories of food for your weekend

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On Saturday in New York, TEDx Manhattan: Changing the Way We Eat will host its fourth annual summit, drawing food-system pioneers and problem-solvers from across the country. Among them are world-famous chef and food justice advocate Tom Colicchio, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree of Maine, known for her advocacy for local food systems, Andrew Gunther of Animal Welfare Approved, and Boston local Michael Rozyne, cofounder of Equal Exchange and Massachusetts-based Red Tomato, leaders in fair trade abroad and at home respectively.

You don’t have to be in New York to attend. TEDx Manhattan will live-stream the Talks to give viewers around the world the chance to learn from these leaders. Between now and Saturday, you can find a local viewing party, a great way to share the experience and perhaps include a lunchtime discussion (while the TEDxers in New York are on their lunch break). Or just tune in from home.

Also this weekend, Real Food Media reaches the final days of its Top 10 “Short Films. Big Ideas” contest. In “Fixing Food in Four Minutes or Less,” Real Food Media leader Anna Lappé describes putting out the call for short stories of food on film, and receiving more than 150 film submissions from around the world.

Real Food Media voting closes Sunday. The top prize winner then receives $5,000 and a debut at the Food & Farm Film Fest in April in San Francisco. You can watch and vote for your favorite here.

Meanwhile, Lexicon of Sustainability, one of this Examiner's longtime favorites, in partnership with PBS is midstream on a five-month "Know Your Food" web series. Every Thursday, it will release a new short food film. Last week was Food Waste. This week its Wheat or White?

Are TEDx Manhattan, Real Food Media and "Know Your Food" signals that our food education is drifting into Twitter-tainment? Certainly, an expression like “fixing the food system in four minutes” is a web-worthy nugget, aimed at grab-their-attention-deficit-attention. It doesn’t capture what Real Food Media is doing – or ever could.

Do “bite-sized” lectures and food films distill down our food system dilemmas – such that all but the pith of the pith is lost? Perhaps. But let’s look back a few years: in 2009 when this Examiner first started studying food systems, and TEDx Manhattan was a twinkle in Diane Hatz’s eye, the food system conversation was teeming with long-form, exhaustively researched, expert sermons from the mount. The munching masses couldn’t digest, and struggled to translate these “global food crisis” messages into better buying and eating decisions.

There is typically a huge gap between knowing and doing. Hatz, Lappé and Lexicon are no doubt banking that the short stories they’re gleaning can actually change the way we eat. And if you believe in voting with your fork, if you believe that the food system is adaptive – that the more people understand, the more the system shifts – then, really, what else matters?

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