FoodCon is an annual conference hosted by graduate students from local business schools. The business schools of UNC, NC State University, and Duke University co-sponsor this one-day conference each year. The goal of FoodCon is to bring together a diverse audience of students, community members, and business professionals who have a shared interest in the sustainable food industry. The purpose of the meeting is to increase the awareness and understanding of the sustainable food industry as well as support and grow the industry in North Carolina and throughout the country.
This year’s keynote speakers presented unique views on agriculture both in North Carolina and across the globe.
Michelle Grainger, managing director of the Executive Farm Management Program, shared statistics curated from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and NC State Extension that show the importance of agriculture to North Carolina’s economy. She also explained that farmers need business knowledge and the tools to run a successful operation. The Executive Farm Management program provides these resources to farmers across the Southeast so that they can create a sustainable business. Michelle referenced her recent Tedx Talk that connects the viability of farming operations to national security.
The next keynote speaker, Yorm Ackuaku, shared wisdom she has gathered throughout her travels and studies. She encourages everyone to look for the answers to today’s problems in unexpected places. An example of this includes Africa’s historic cultivation of high protein, gluten-free ancient grains like fonio. Fonio thrives in dry climates and provides an alternate source of energy than traditional meat sources. Adopting a traditionally African grain into the global agriculture scene could increase yields in hard-to-farm areas as well as provide a climate-friendly protein to the growing world population.