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TED Talks: Ideas Worth Spreading (About Food)


TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design), a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas through conferences and talks by remarkable people, have made them available free to the world in all possible mediums. Everyone should know about TED talks, and browse through their website or app. The organization is best summed up in its mandate:

We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world. So we’re building here a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world’s most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other.

TED talk topics address every conceivable subject, so it stands to reason there are hundreds of great discussions on the subject of food – sustainability, security, the nature of food habits and state of our food system. Jamie Oliver’s 2010 TED talk brought the series more mainstream; here are his and other food-related TED talks, from the minds of Malcom Gladwell, Mark Bittman, and other great thinkers, doers and eaters. If you eat, these are worth watching.


  • Malcolm Gladwell on Spaghetti Sauce 1 of 7
    Malcolm Gladwell on Spaghetti Sauce
    Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point, speaks on the food industry's pursuit of the perfect spaghetti sauce - and while doing so makes a larger argument about the nature of choice and happiness.
    Watch Malcolm's TED talk!
  • Mark Bittman: What’s Wrong With What We Eat 2 of 7
    Mark Bittman: What's Wrong With What We Eat
    New York Times food writer Mark Bittman weighs in on what's wrong with the way we eat now (to sum: too much meat, too few plants; too much fast food, too little home cooking), and why it's putting the entire planet at risk.
    Watch Mark's TED talk!
  • Jamie Oliver on Teaching Every Child About Food 3 of 7
    Jamie Oliver on Teaching Every Child About Food
    Jamie Oliver is transforming the way we feed ourselves, and our families; in his TED talk, which helped launch the organization further into the mainstream, he shares powerful stories from his anti-obesity project in Huntington, Va, and makes the case for an all-out assault on our ignorance of food.
    Watch Jamie's TED talk!
  • Cary Fowler: One Seed at a Time, Protecting the Future of Food 4 of 7
    Cary Fowler: One Seed at a Time, Protecting the Future of Food
    Cary Fowler takes us inside a vast global seed bank buried within a frozen mountain in Norway; he wants to save the world from agricultural collapse, one seed at a time. "I'm not talking about losing [agricultural] diversity in the same way that you lose your car keys. I'm talking about losing it in the same way that we lost the dinosaurs: actually losing it, never to be seen again." (Cary Fowler)
    Watch Cary's TED talk!
  • Carolyn Steel: How Food Shapes Our Cities 5 of 7
    Carolyn Steel: How Food Shapes Our Cities
    Every day, in a city the size of London, 30 million meals are served. But where does all the food come from? Architect Carolyn Steel discusses the daily miracle of feeding a city, and shows how ancient food routes shaped the modern world.
    Watch Carolyn's TED talk!
  • Ellen Gustafson: Obesity + Hunger = 1 Global Food Issue 6 of 7
    Ellen Gustafson: Obesity + Hunger = 1 Global Food Issue
    Co-founder of FEED and creator of The 30 Project, Ellen Gustafson is trying to change the way the world eats, arguing that hunger and obesity are two sides of the same coin.
    Watch Ellen's TED talk!
  • Ann Cooper on School Lunches 7 of 7
    Ann Cooper on School Lunches
    Much depends on lunch. Head of nutrition for Berkeley, California, schools, "renegade lunch lady" Ann Cooper talks about the coming revolution in the way we feed our kids at school - local, sustainable, seasonal - even educational food.
    Watch Ann's TED talk!

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