Attorney, rancher, and writer Nicolette Hahn Niman will be the featured keynote speaker at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association's (OEFFA) 34th annual conference, Growing Opportunities, Cultivating Change, on Sunday, February 17 in Granville, Ohio.
"Nicolette will explore the links between modern industrial agriculture and the public health and environmental problems we're facing today," said Renee Hunt, OEFFA's program director and the event's lead organizer. "She'll offer fixes for our diet and our food system."
Hahn Niman will speak as part of the state's largest sustainable food and farm conference, an event that draws more than 1,100 attendees from across Ohio and the Midwest, and has sold out in advance the past three years. In addition to Hahn Niman, this year's conference will feature keynote speaker George Siemon on Saturday, February 16; more than 90 educational workshops; two featured preconference events on Friday, February 15; a trade show; a fun and educational kids' conference and child care area; locally sourced and organic homemade meals, and Saturday evening entertainment.
Hahn Niman is an attorney, rancher, and author of Righteous Porkchop: Finding a Life and Good Food Beyond Factory Farms, which chronicles the problems with the concentration of livestock and poultry and her work to reform animal agriculture as the senior attorney at Waterkeeper Alliance. The book profiles successful farmers and ranchers using humane practices and gives consumers practical tips for choosing meat, while weaving in the story of her personal transition from being a big city lawyer to ranching in the west.
As she worked to reform factory farming, she found examples of farmers and ranchers throughout the country raising animals humanely and sustainably, including the 700 farmers and ranchers of Niman Ranch, a natural meat cooperative started in Bolinas, California. The company was founded by Bill Niman, whom she eventually married.
"Following the footsteps of Eva Gabor in Green Acres, I packed up my high heels and moved to Bill's northern California ranch," she wrote in Edible Manhattan in 2011. "After years chronicling industrial animal abuses, I reveled in the rightness of this kind of agriculture. Instead of being fed antibiotics and slaughterhouse wastes, these herbivores ate grass-the food their bodies were designed for; instead of a feedlot pen or metal crate, they roamed across the open range and took afternoon naps in the sun; instead of artificial insemination, they courted and mated naturally, gave birth and raised their young according to their instincts. They lived in a way that I was not only comfortable with, I was proud of," she continued.
Hahn Niman is also an accomplished author and speaker who has been featured in Time Magazine, The New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times. She is a regular blogger for The Atlantic, and has written for The San Francisco Chronicle, Huffington Post, Cowboys & Indians, and CHOW.
Her keynote address, presented by Chipotle Mexican Grill, is titled, "Eating as We Farm (And Farming as We Eat)" and takes place Sunday, February 17 at 2:45 p.m. Hahn Niman will explore how a shift from grass-fed, diversified, and small-scale farming to concentrated, industrial monoculture production methods have led to food overproduction, declining farm income, and fewer farms. While the industrialization of the food system, fueled by farm policy over the past half century, has resulted in cheap food, it has also caused an increase in diet-related diseases, overeating, and environmental pollution. She will offer a vision for a path forward that would improve both the American diet and our broken food system.
For more information about the conference, or to register, go to www.oeffa.org/2013