September 1, 2010

Sustainable food is meat of debate

At first glance, with neither a rural campus nor an agriculture department, Emory would seem to be an unlikely host for a debate among candidates for state agriculture commissioner. So why then are the three candidates for this position debating one another this Thursday, Sept. 2 at Emory Law’s Tull Auditorium?

The focus of this debate, set for 7:30 p.m., is sustainable food issues. And on this topic, Emory is a leader both in Georgia and nationally. Emory’s Sustainable Food Initiative is among the most ambitious programs in higher education today.

“One pillar of our sustainable food initiative is education, so in that regard, Emory is an ideal host for this debate,” says anthropology professor Peggy Barlett, chair of Emory’s sustainable food committee. “This election will be very important in guiding Georgia toward the forefront in food and farming issues.  Sponsorship of this debate is a continuation of our goal to educate.”

Current commissioner Tommy Irvin is retiring after four decades of overseeing Georgia’s No. 1 industry. Some are hailing this year’s election as an historic opportunity to shape policies that advance sustainable foods and farms across the state.

The debate will include all of the candidates who qualified for election, including the Republican candidate, Gary Black; the Democratic candidate, J.B. Powell; and the Libertarian candidate, Kevin Cherry. The Office of Sustainability Initiatives, department of political science and the Emory School of Law are sponsoring the debate in conjunction with Georgia Organics, the University of Georgia College of Agriculture & Environmental Sciences, the Atlanta Community Food Bank, Georgia Citizens Coalition on Hunger, and Whole Foods Market.

Emory University and its co-sponsors for the debate do not endorse specific parties or candidates in this or any race. The purpose of this event is an educational voter service.

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