Global Awareness conference to debate food issues

By Steven Adamo

Food is the main topic of discussion at the Global Awareness In The 21st Century, a conference organized for students by ELAC faculty and staff.

This year’s conference will take place Nov. 16. The keynote speaker for this year’s conference is Sarah Portnoy, associate professor of Spanish at USC.

The focus of Portnoy’s research is Hispanic culinary culture in Los Angeles and how it relates to other topics like globalization, identity, immigration, community and political/social issues.

“I am particularly interested in food and health/policy issues. I have been researching about issues of diabetes and obesity in the Hispanic community and discussing the issue with experts in the field at USC in order to bring this knowledge to my class,” Portnoy said on the USC website.

The conference will feature speakers discussing multiple topics including access to nutritional food and clean water, food insecurity, farmer’s and worker’s rights, food waste, Global Consumerism and the Fishing Industry, food and etiquette across the globe, dietary lifestyles, and the fetishization of food.

Also featured will be the discussion of the effects of Climate Change and how the environment is affected by the production, distribution, consumption, and waste of food.

Popular misunderstandings about substances like Gluten will also be discussed.

“We personify an ingredient like gluten, and we say “evil gluten,” but it’s really the Monsantos– it’s the processing of our food where we have to wage the political battle,” said Norma Vega, professor of modern languages.
The conference began in 2015 by Vega and former dean at ELAC, Vi Ly.

The idea for the conference began as a way to bring more dialogue into academic topics among faculty.

“We knew that with the exception of the Honors Program, our students were not given the opportunity to cultivate an interest in academics outside the classes they take, so we came up with this idea of creating a space in which faculty and students could discuss the most pressing issues of our times,” Vega said. “Those particularly related to the social, political and environmental challenges we currently face.”

There will also be performance pieces plus discussions about artists like Andrea Chung who use sugar as a medium to bring attention to political and economical issues.

The conference takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

A free continental breakfast will be served and participating ELAC clubs will be selling food items for lunch.
Visit to reserve a spot.
The event is free to students.

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