2012 Fall Symposium

HFHL Fourth Annual Symposium:
Minnesota Leaders in Food and Health

Presented by the University of Minnesota Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives Institute and the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Dates: October 1 & 2, 2012

Locations: TCF Bank Stadium (October 1) and The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum (October 2)

Time: 8 - 4:30 pm

October 1, research day at the TCF Stadium, Minneapolis: 2012_hfhl_symposium_photo V2

Conference Summary: The goal of this year's Healthy Foods, Healthy lives research symposium was to highlight and showcase award-winning research led and conducted by world-renowned, award-winning University of Minnesota faculty members in food, health, and agricultural sciences. The intended outcome was for attendees to be more informed about the impact and contributions that 'homegrown' research is having on improving the lives of not only Minnesotans but people around the globe. University scientists presented cutting-edge research and shared their findings and perspectives on various topics along the farm to fork continuum. At the end of the symposium, it is our hope that attendees were able to:

  • Understand how honey bees impact human health. (Marla Spivak, Ph.D. & Linda Halcón, Ph.D., MPH)
  • Understand current food safety and protection issues. (Michael Osterholm, Ph.D. & Francisco Diez-Gonzalez, Ph.D.)
  • Understand and discuss the neural regulation of food intake as well as the environment and their relation to obesity. (Allen Levine, Ph.D. & Simone French, Ph.D.)
  • Understand the role of food compounds in preventing cancer. (Stephen Hecht, Ph.D. & Vince Fritz, Ph.D.)

Sonny Ramaswamy

The keynote presentation was given by Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, director of the USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA), who discussed his vision for the future of food and health research and funding

The symposium's audience included representatives from multiple sectors such as public health, nutrition, medical science, environmental and natural resource sciences, production agriculture, business, public policy, school administration, the health care insurance industry, research, as well as concerned citizens and parents.

October 1, evening event at University Research and Outreach Center (UROC), Minneapolis

Bryant Terry"Good Food: An Everyday Right -- How Do We Make This Happen?" BRYANT TERRY, M.A., chef, food justice activist, and author of three books, including his latest The Inspired Vegan, and former fellow of the Food and Society Policy Fellows Program. From his website: "Bryant has worked to build a more just and sustainable food system, and cooking has been an important tool for illuminating the intersections of poverty, structural racism, and food insecurity. He uses the sensual pleasures of the table to shift people's attitudes, habits, and politics in effort to ensure that everyone in this country of abundance has access to healthful food."

October 2, a day of applications at the MN Landscape Arboretum, Chaska

From national food activist and acclaimed chef Bryant Terry to hometown youth bringing healthful food to their community and using it as a basis for a business, during the second day of the Healthy Food Summit, attendees encountered the people who are taking on food safety, justice and personal health challenges head-on.
Change agents come in all forms and formats - regardless, change happens one person at a time - the key is effective programs that instigate this change, and encourage people to carry it forward. This day was about celebrating these agents of change and finding ways for attendees to increase their own personal and professional potential for change through food. The goal of this day was to inspire participants to identify at least one thing they could apply immediately (in whatever their work and/or personal life) to take an action - become a change agent in any arena, from education, policy making, health care, farm production, food processing, to the kitchen.


Bryant Terry presented his clear view and keen insights into healthful food access and food justice issues. He made it clear how food access is a critical consideration as we create positive change in how we produce and process healthful food for everyone in our communities. Attendees entertained as well as informed about the urban agriculture movement as Terry demonstrated a simple, inexpensive, vegan dish while he told his story of becoming an acclaimed chef, cookbook author, and food justice advocate.

Case Studies

Attendees heard from leaders in Minnesota who are making changes in the food system and who responded to information and research presented by the previous day's speakers. Attendees also found out who is working on community programs that are bringing healthy foods to entire communities in new, more sustainable ways.

Speakers included:

Leaders of the "Kwanzaa Community's Body and Soul Project" who discussed their project using health coaches & support network to improve health in North Minneapolis.

Members of the Farmers' Legal Action Group's (FLAG), who discussed their "Harvesting Healthier Food Project," a project to empower Hmong farmers to produce safer and healthier food.

Leaders of the Minneapolis public school system food service, discussed how they are pulling out warming ovens and bringing stoves and cooking back into Minneapolis Public Schools in order to serve more nutritious, healthy, tasty food.

University of Minnesota apple breeders, who have created a number of award winning apples such as HoneyCrisp and Zestar. They discussed how climate change has influenced fruit production in Minnesota and the importance of a healthy bee population.

A number of brief youth presentations were very inspiring and hopeful, highlighting the role that young people play in leading change in their communities.

Click here for more details.

Videos of Day 1 Presentations


Video: WELCOME given by ROBERT J. JONES, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Academic Administration, University of Minnesota and MINDY S. KURZER, Ph.D., Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives Institute


Video: "Priorities and Challenges for Food and Health Research: Directions of the USDA Extramural Grant Programs" SONNY RAMASWAMY, Ph.D., Director, USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)


Video: SPEAKER INTRODUCTION given by GARY GARDNER, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Horticultural Science
Video: "Dietary Cancer Preventive Compounds" STEPHEN HECHT, Ph.D., Professor and Wallin Chair in Cancer Prevention, University of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Center and "Production Issues and Variability of Dietary Chemopreventive Compounds" VINCE FRITZ, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Horticultural Science, Southern Research and Outreach 


Video: "Current Issues in Food Safety: Bringing the Best Science to the Discussion" MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, Ph.D., M.P.H., Professor and Director, Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), University of Minnesota and "Is Organic Produce Unsafe? Where's the Evidence?" FRANCISCO DIEZ-GONZALEZ, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Food Science and Nutrition


Video: "Why We Can't Stop Eating: Biological Drivers of Food Intake" ALLEN S. LEVINE, Ph.D., Director of the Minnesota Obesity Center and Dean, College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences, University of Minnesota and "How the Food Environment Contributes to Obesity" SIMONE A. FRENCH, Ph.D., Professor and Director of the Obesity Prevention Center, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health


Video: Bee Health: Why Should We Care?" MARLA SPIVAK, Ph.D., McKnight Distinguished University Professor, Department of Entomology, University of Minnesota and "Bee Products for Improving Human Health" LINDA HALCÓN, Ph.D., M.P.H., Associate Professor and Chair, Population Health and Systems Cooperative, School of Nursing


View Day 2 presentations here.