IFIC Foundation Joins Presidential Delegation to Discuss “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”

Printed words and pictures of Expo Milano 2015 came alive as I traveled to Italy July 1 as a member of the U.S. Presidential Delegation to attend the “U.S. National Day” activities July 2-4. It was truly an incredible opportunity for which I am most humbled and honored to have represented the IFIC Foundation.

The eight-member delegation was led by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack. The diversity and size of the delegation allowed for lively conversations about food, sustainability and global insights as we traveled by train to Milan, by car through the busy streets of Rome and Milan, on foot through the 95-degree weather at Expo Milano, or dined on the seven-course meal at the James Beard American Restaurant, prepared by the Italian sensation Chef Massimo Bottura (whose Osteria Francescana in 2015 was voted No. 2 in a noted annual ranking of “World’s 50 Best Restaurants.”)

Through the three event-packed days, it was evident the world has a keen interest in how we eat, farm and innovate for future generations. As of July 1, more than 1 million visitors had visited the USA Pavilion, “American Food 2.0.” Through the interactive exhibits, programming and videos, visitors have a firsthand opportunity to see how Americans are engaged in a wide range of efforts to feed the planet sustainability and nutritiously.

presidential delegationFrom the “food to table” movement and urban rooftop gardens, to university research and biotechnology, the Pavilion addresses all the tools available to increase yields, quality, quantity and nutrition while promoting sustainable growth and water reduction.

During our visit, Secretary Vilsack provided the keynote speech at a sustainability conference at the USA Pavilion. He assured the audience (and the world) that the United States takes sustainability seriously, as the USDA has a long history of conservation and research. He emphasized the importance of looking at sustainability through the three lenses of environment, economics and culture.

Secretary Vilsack pledged that all USDA research would be available globally as we work together to feed the world.

“Today it’s cool to be involved in food,” he told the audience. “Farmers successfully engaged in food production allow the rest of us to pursue other opportunities. Today is a tremendous opportunity for agriculture.”

From the 42-foot vertical gardens of the USA Pavilion, to the celebration of food and culture of the Italian Pavilion, to the focus on food waste in the UN Pavilion, creating a more food-secure, nourished world able to feed all inhabitants is highlighted uniquely throughout the 140 participating nations’ exhibitions.

On July 4, Expo Milano (along with the Italian media) turned its attention to the USA as we celebrated our freedom and our commitment to “feeding the world.” Spending the Fourth of July in another country celebrating along with fellow Americans and the Italian delegation made me incredibly patriotic—and convinced that we can provide the “energy for life” through embracing our diversity of opinions and expertise.

The IFIC Foundation has a “seat at the table.”

The delegates were:

  • The Honorable John R. Phillips, U.S. Ambassador to the Italian Republic and the Republic of San Marino, Department of State
  • The Honorable Betty McCollum, Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
  • The Honorable Douglas T. Hickey, Commissioner General of the USA Pavilion at Milan Expo 2015, Department of State
  • Mr. Eric Goldstein, CEO, Office of School Support Services, NYC Department of Education
  • Mr. Samuel Kass, Food Entrepreneur, Policy Expert and Chef
  • Ms. Marianne Smith Edge, Senior Vice President, Nutrition & Food Safety, International Food Information Council Foundation
  • Ms. Angela Tagtow, Executive Director, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, United States Department of Agriculture
By Marianne Smith Edge, M.S,R.D, L.D., FADA