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What has your food been eating? | Laurent Adamowicz | TEDxBeaconStreet

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    What's my food been eating?
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    Have you ever asked yourself
    this question?
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    I ask myself.
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    But I'll tell you why.
    I will take you through a journey,
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    starting with this question:
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    "Tell me what you eat,
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    I'll tell you what you are."
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    You've all heard this, right?
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    I'm the little frog.
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    I'm Laurent, I was born in Paris,
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    and always passionate
    about food,
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    a "born foodie", as they say.
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    And to me food is this
    environment of richness,
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    of where I would go down
    the street, every day
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    to get the veggies,
    or the bread.
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    And every weekend,
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    Saturday after class,
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    I would be sent to my grandma
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    and she would cook
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    the entire weekend,
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    preparing for her
    13 brothers and sisters
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    to come for lunch on Sunday.
    It was a big gathering.
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    And, we would go out
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    to the market and pick a fish like this,
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    generally this one.
    That was her favorite fish.
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    And her favorite dish
    is Trout Amandine.
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    So, this is the way you make it.
    It is so simple, right?
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    Pan roast some almonds,
    you start to get the flavor
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    and the smell of the almonds
    in the room.
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    Set them aside.
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    Put your trout down.
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    Pan roast it.
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    Put the almonds back on top.
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    Et voilà !
    Bon appétit.
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    So simple, right?
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    I was a foodie,
    and really involved with food;
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    I started writing guides
    when I was in college.
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    Many of them.
    And I did the food review.
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    I wrote reviews on
    700 restaurants of Paris.
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    Always going twice.
    Always anonymous.
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    And then I'm going back
    to this man,
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    his name is Brillat-Savarin,
    he was my mentor.
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    Not just because he said that,
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    but also because he wrote
    "Physiologie du Goût"
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    200 years ago.
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    And that's a reference for chefs
    around the world.
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    It means "Physiology of Taste".
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    Gastronomical meditation,
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    transcendental meditations,
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    dedicated to the
    "gastronome Parisien".
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    And what he really meant is,
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    it's what you put in
    your stomach, of course.
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    But also,
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    use your six senses
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    when you start thinking
    about food.
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    First of all, look at it.
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    Second, take the time,
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    and smell the food.
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    And that starts whetting
    your appetite, right?
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    The third thing is
    you are going to touch it.
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    And that is very experiential.
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    And now, listen.
    Listen to the journey,
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    what this food is telling you
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    --where it's been,
    where it's coming from.
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    And then you can go, "Humph!"
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    or, you can take the time.
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    And taste it.
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    And enjoy it.
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    And you say,
    "But, hold on--
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    what is this 'transcendental' about?"
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    Well, that's what he means.
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    The food has to be fun, too.
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    I studied food, and
    I studied [the] marketing of food,
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    at a large company called Beatrice Foods
    that had great, great brands.
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    And then years later,
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    I ran this company based in Paris.
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    This is a company that's
    over 100 years old.
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    It's been creating foods
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    with 200 chefs
    when I was there.
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    I ran it for six years.
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    We created thousands
    of different products
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    in every category
    you can think of,
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    from "haricot verts" to "foie gras".
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    And then, the best part,
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    every week we had tastings.
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    And I would never miss them.
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    So, the tasting goes like that,
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    it is a blind tasting,
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    and you try to understand
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    really, what's in that food,
    but where it's coming from.
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    And when I ask the chef,
    for example,
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    we were tasting olive oil.
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    Not dipping bread,
    but just enjoying the olive oil itself,
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    by the glass, smelling it.
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    And they said,
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    "You know the difference
    between all these olive oils?"
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    It's the 'terroir'--the soil,
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    that's the difference.
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    They have the same sun."
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    So, I asked them, I said:
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    "Well, tell me about the veal.
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    Where is it [coming] from?
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    And what has the veal been eating?"
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    They said: "Well, the veal is
    'veau élevé sous la mère.'"
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    That means, "under the mother".
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    It was raised that way,
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    and drank the milk of its mother.
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    And the mother ate the grass
    and the flowers.
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    It sounds pretty normal, right?
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    But then I said:
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    "And this particular veal
    you say is the best?
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    Where is that one?"
    They said:
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    Well, it's about 3
    hours from Paris, we can go..."
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    I said, "I want to visit.
    I want to see the place."
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    So we went there.
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    It's a slaughterhouse.
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    And I said, "You know, it's ok.
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    I want to see, I want to understand
    and see what's special about the place.
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    Now what was really special
    about the place is at the end of the visit
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    I asked the manager,
    "What do you do with the carcasses
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    and all the leftovers?"
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    He said,
    "Oh, we make fish pellets."
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    "Fish what?"
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    "Fish pellets."
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    Have you ever heard of fish pellets?
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    I didn't.
    I said, "Well, where are these made?"
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    "Two miles down there's a farm,
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    that's where they make
    them, there's a factory."
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    I said, "Fish pellets, huh?
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    Can I go? I would like to see this place."
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    So we went,
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    and it was a trout farm.
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    A what?
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    Yes. It was a trout farm.
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    I was kind of shocked
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    to see, you know,
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    all these trouts in basins.
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    And there were thousands of them.
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    And guess what?
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    That's all they ate.
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    The system is very simple:
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    They have hundreds of basins,
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    millions of trouts,
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    and they're fed automatically,
    those fish pellets.
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    But what really got to me,
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    and got me really angry,
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    is, you know, the smell of the place.
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    It was terrible.
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    It was not just the carcasses,
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    it was the inside,
    and everything else
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    used to make these pellets.
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    So, guess what?
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    If you are what you eat,
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    you also are what your food
    has been eating, right?
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    Think of it for a second.
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    I mean, the result for me is,
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    again, I was really angry,
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    and disgusted.
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    And the result of it is,
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    I cannot eat trout anymore.
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    There are several reasons why
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    sometimes you cannot eat
    something, of course.
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    I would argue
    in some ways, you're not
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    just what you eat, you're
    what you don't eat.
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    For all kinds of reasons--
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    maybe because
    you can't afford the food,
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    maybe you are a celiac,
    you have allergies.
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    Sometimes you would love
    to get your hands on the food,
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    but unfortunately,
    you live in a food desert.
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    And what you have to do then,
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    is get processed food instead.
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    So, another reason could be
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    your religion says:
    "Thou shall not eat that."
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    Or: "This is not food--hold on,
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    it's a pet."
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    Or, the same culture would argue
    that maybe this is food,
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    where another says,
    "No, no, no, no--
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    this is an endangered species,
    it's not food, right?"
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    In any case, I started wondering and said:
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    "Ok, what can I do about this?
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    What can we do collectively
    about this?"
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    And that's when magic happens.
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    Three years ago,
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    I get this phone call from an old
    friend from business school, who said:
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    "You know, we have
    this new program at Harvard,
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    five schools are getting together
    and building this new facility,
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    the Advanced Leadership,
    where fellows like you can build projects,
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    bringing in the knowledge,
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    bringing in the technology,
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    and all the resources
    of our schools at Harvard.
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    So I said: "I can try that,
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    let me speak to some of the faculty."
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    This man changed my journey.
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    And my life.
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    Because what he did
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    --this is Barry Bloom;
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    he was the dean of the
    Harvard School Of Public Health--
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    and when I told him over lunch
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    my story about the trout,
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    he said: "You're damn right,
    they're not the same,
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    between the farmed trout
    and the wild trout.
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    Incidentally, it's the other way."
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    He said: "You know,
    this is the wild trout, the smaller one.
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    The farm--they make them bigger, faster."
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    "But not only this," he said,
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    "They look the same,
    but the reality is
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    there's more good stuff
    like omega 3 in the wild,
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    and there's more bad stuff,
    like antibiotics and toxins
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    in the farmed one."
    And he said:
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    "You know, think about it;
    you're going to be here
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    for a couple of years' study:
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    Does obesity have anything
    to do with this?
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    Or tweaking our food like that?"
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    So, that's what I did, I started looking.
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    And this is what it looked like in 1985,
    per the CDC.
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    We already had these blue dots,
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    10% obesity, 10% of the population.
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    Just 5 years later,
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    it spread out--10% across the country
    going to 15%.
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    So just ten years, right?
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    1995, 15% is the dark blue.
    And guess what?
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    Five years later, they had to introduce
    a new color, yellow,
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    for 20% of the population
    is obese; that's in 2000.
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    5 years later, introducing red.
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    Now it's 25% in those states,
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    and just 5 years later again,
    a new color, darker red,
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    30%, that's in 2010.
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    Wait, it's not over.
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    Just one year later,
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    35%, they had to introduce
    a new color again.
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    Guess what?
    It's black.
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    Now, it's pretty dramatic,
    because when you look
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    at the consequences,
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    it's diabetes,
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    cardiovascular disease,
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    many kinds of cancers,
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    it's everything we eat,
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    everything we do with our food.
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    And it goes on and on and on.
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    And it's not just the list
    of diseases that are directly
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    associated to what we eat,
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    it's also the cost:
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    $147 billion today.
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    So, again, what can we do about it?
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    There is massive confusion.
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    How would I know
    when I look at a burger like this,
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    what's in it?
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    Will a nutrition label tell me?
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    I don't know how to read these.
    Do you?
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    I don't.
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    Our kids don't.
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    So, where is the good fat
    and the bad fat?
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    Any guess?
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    There is one good fat on this picture,
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    it happens to be unsaturated fatty acid.
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    But how would you know this?
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    I wish sat. fat and trans
    fat were just called 'bad fat'.
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    That's what we should call them, right?
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    So, let's look at the burger
    a little closer
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    because I want to take you
    through the journey.
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    How would you build a burger, right?
    Beef, lettuce, some onion,
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    maybe pickles, cheese, some sauce,
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    you put a bun on top, here's a burger.
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    Et voilà.
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    Now, a little salt and pepper, right?
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    That's how you make it at home.
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    I do, too.
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    Except that processed burger,
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    the one in the picture?
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    Well, it looks more like this:
    A sprinkle of this
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    with high fructose syrup
    on top,
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    and a sprinkle of that,
    and more sugar
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    and more seasoning
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    and more [preservatives]
    and more coloring
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    and more flavoring
    and a sprinkle of this
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    and this and that and this and more color.
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    All the way down to monoglycerides.
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    That burger, the chain burger,
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    has 78 ingredients.
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    I kid you not.
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    So, what do we do about it?
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    How do we tell our kids?
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    How do we educate them about food?
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    This is really hard, you know?
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    I'll tell you what I did
    with our kids,
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    David and William,
    on this picture.
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    As soon as they could read,
    I said: "Well, now you're big guys,
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    you're going to come with us
    to the supermarket; you can fill the cart
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    with any kind of food you want,
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    with one condition:
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    You understand what the ingredients
    say on the label on the back.
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    So, that was the cart they filled.
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    (laughter)
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    I know, it was easy.
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    It was kind of cruel.
    My wife said: "No, you can't do that!"
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    So they'd come, of course.
    They're smart enough, right?
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    They'd come and say:
    "Hey dad, what does 'monoglyceride' mean?"
  • 11:53 - 11:53
    So now we know.
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    "What is 'xanthan gum,'
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    can you tell us?
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    What is this 'emulsifier'?"
    Ok, ok we'll change the rule, hold on.
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    New rule:
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    If it has more than 5 ingredients,
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    probably not worth putting
    in the cart.
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    And I introduced a new, new rule:
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    If it says 'modified'
    on the package,
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    'modified' anything,
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    I don't want to hear about it.
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    Because this is really bad stuff.
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    Not modified food in our house, right?
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    So that's what we did.
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    Now, I'm coming back to the burger.
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    but, my original question was:
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    What has it been eating?
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    What's that beef been eating?
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    Has it been, like you would hope,
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    the beef that you crave for,
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    that good meat, where,
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    it grazes on grass and flowers?
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    Not quite, right?
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    That's what the beef
    is eating these days.
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    And I am not kidding,
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    it's eating corn because
    there is no grass there.
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    There is no way for the beef
    to eat anything else but corn,
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    or soy sometimes.
    And is that normal?
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    Well, let's look at the bun for a second.
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    Now, you'd think the bun
    is an easy one, right?
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    It's bread.
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    As a piece of bread,
    we know that,
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    4 ingredients, that's a winner.
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    Ok: flour, yeast, salt and water.
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    That's all you need, right?
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    Except the bun from processed food,
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    the one you buy at the supermarket,
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    well, that's that kind of bun.
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    Again, it has high fructose
    corn syrup, more sugar,
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    more glucose and fructose,
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    and all kinds of oils and [things]
    that I don't even know.
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    So, all the way down
    to monoglycerides again,
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    32 ingredients typically in the bun.
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    This is a real bun, from a chain.
  • 13:28 - 13:29
    And again, it's the corn.
  • 13:29 - 13:31
    Why does it have so much sugar?
  • 13:31 - 13:34
    What are we doing
    with all this corn?
  • 13:34 - 13:36
    I want to finish with the lettuce
  • 13:36 - 13:38
    and take you again before
    we talk about technology,
  • 13:38 - 13:42
    about the lettuce--what has it
    been eating, that lettuce?
  • 13:42 - 13:46
    See, my kind of lettuce
    --the kind I was raised with--is this one.
  • 13:46 - 13:48
    That is Rue Mouffetard,
    where I lived in Paris,
  • 13:48 - 13:50
    and it has all kinds of lettuces,
  • 13:50 - 13:52
    all kinds of flavors, right?
  • 13:52 - 13:54
    And that's what the stand looks like.
  • 13:54 - 13:58
    They all have different names:
    from arugula to Romaine or Frisée.
  • 13:58 - 14:00
    But this lettuce?
  • 14:00 - 14:02
    Well, first of all it's very cold
  • 14:02 - 14:04
    and then it's tasteless.
  • 14:04 - 14:06
    That's why they call it
    "Iceberg," right?
  • 14:06 - 14:07
    (laughter)
  • 14:07 - 14:09
    But seriously, what has it been eating?
  • 14:09 - 14:11
    Is my question here.
  • 14:11 - 14:12
    The soil.
  • 14:12 - 14:14
    You think, "My salad eats soil,"
  • 14:14 - 14:15
    just like my olive oil.
  • 14:15 - 14:17
    It all comes back to the soil.
  • 14:17 - 14:18
    And that's an easy one, right?
  • 14:18 - 14:21
    Good soil, good water
    --easy.
  • 14:21 - 14:23
    Except--in our case,
  • 14:23 - 14:25
    it has some of this and some of that,
  • 14:25 - 14:27
    and a little bit of this and that.
  • 14:27 - 14:28
    All these pollutants.
  • 14:29 - 14:31
    So you kind of wonder again:
  • 14:31 - 14:32
    What should we do?
  • 14:32 - 14:35
    I went back to the 5
    schools working together.
  • 14:35 - 14:39
    I was in the program for two years.
    I got 11 students from those schools
  • 14:39 - 14:40
    around a table,
  • 14:40 - 14:42
    and said:
    "What can we do?"
  • 14:42 - 14:46
    Imagine, if we could set a new standard
  • 14:46 - 14:49
    for nutritional information
  • 14:50 - 14:52
    in a place where,
  • 14:52 - 14:55
    instead of having to read those labels,
  • 14:55 - 14:58
    that our kids can't
    understand-but we can't either-
  • 14:58 - 15:00
    we would have information
    that is simple
  • 15:00 - 15:02
    about the nutrients in the box,
  • 15:02 - 15:04
    so that we would know
  • 15:04 - 15:07
    how much sugar, how much salt,
    how much bad fat
  • 15:07 - 15:09
    there is in that box,
  • 15:09 - 15:10
    whatever the kind of food it is.
  • 15:10 - 15:13
    And the same would apply
    to any burger, any food,
  • 15:13 - 15:17
    any pizza on the road,
    so I know what's in it.
  • 15:17 - 15:19
    Again, the nutrients.
  • 15:19 - 15:22
    Imagine if you could know
    that from your TV show,
  • 15:22 - 15:24
    or the recipe from your grandma,
  • 15:24 - 15:25
    that apple pie,
  • 15:26 - 15:29
    and know by entering
    the ingredients of the show
  • 15:29 - 15:30
    or the recipe;
  • 15:30 - 15:33
    well, how much bad fat,
    how much sugar is in that.
  • 15:33 - 15:35
    "Well, we can do it," they said,
    "That's easy.
  • 15:35 - 15:38
    There's an app for that, we'll create it."
    So that's what we did.
  • 15:38 - 15:40
    We created an app, a new solution,
  • 15:40 - 15:44
    a new standard to introduce nutrition
  • 15:44 - 15:45
    in a simple way;
  • 15:45 - 15:46
    in a way that's voiced-powered
  • 15:46 - 15:49
    so now you can talk to your
    phone and say "chicken breast"
  • 15:49 - 15:50
    and you can read on it,
  • 15:50 - 15:53
    the calories, the sugar, the salt,
    the bad fat in that item,
  • 15:53 - 15:56
    in a simple language,
  • 15:56 - 15:58
    with a simple graphic,
    a little battery.
  • 15:58 - 16:02
    It is so simple;
    it's first a very deep database,
  • 16:02 - 16:04
    so it has every kind of
    food you can think of,
  • 16:04 - 16:06
    from any kind of chain.
    We had the help
  • 16:06 - 16:09
    of 65 students help us work
    on this from all the schools
  • 16:09 - 16:10
    in the area.
  • 16:10 - 16:12
    And then, we created this solution
  • 16:12 - 16:14
    that is so simple
  • 16:14 - 16:16
    that because it's voice-powered
  • 16:16 - 16:17
    and fun to use,
  • 16:17 - 16:20
    you don't have to worry
    about a Nutrition Facts label anymore.
  • 16:21 - 16:24
    I got an email from a
    young woman in Baton Rouge
  • 16:24 - 16:27
    where I made a presentation
    on this just a few days ago
  • 16:27 - 16:29
    and she said: "You know what?
  • 16:29 - 16:32
    My little girl--here she is--Lydia.
  • 16:32 - 16:34
    She first got very excited
    about the app
  • 16:34 - 16:35
    because of the mike,
  • 16:35 - 16:38
    and you could talk and get
    the information,
  • 16:38 - 16:42
    but now she's using it seriously.
    She says: 'Mom, look!
  • 16:42 - 16:45
    There's so much bad fat
    in your granola bar.'"
  • 16:45 - 16:47
    (laughter)
  • 16:47 - 16:48
    So my dream,
  • 16:48 - 16:50
    is that we take this
    to the next generation,
  • 16:50 - 16:52
    because our kids understand this
  • 16:52 - 16:54
    and they have the power
  • 16:54 - 16:56
    and they know how to use the technology.
  • 16:56 - 17:00
    We take it to the level where
    we could even identify,
  • 17:00 - 17:02
    one day, from a smelling phone
  • 17:02 - 17:06
    that will talk to you,
    what is in my trout.
  • 17:06 - 17:07
    The peptides, the molecules.
  • 17:07 - 17:10
    We could identify
    which one is the good one,
  • 17:10 - 17:12
    versus the bad one.
  • 17:12 - 17:15
    What is in that trout?
    What has it been eating?
  • 17:15 - 17:16
    I want to know.
  • 17:16 - 17:19
    So:
    What's my food been eating?
  • 17:19 - 17:21
    Ask yourself again, and remember:
  • 17:21 - 17:23
    We need to empower our kids
  • 17:23 - 17:25
    to set this new standard
  • 17:25 - 17:27
    so that we stand a chance
  • 17:27 - 17:29
    to eradicate obesity.
  • 17:29 - 17:31
    Together, we can do this.
  • 17:31 - 17:32
    Thank you.
  • 17:32 - 17:35
    (applause)
Title:
What has your food been eating? | Laurent Adamowicz | TEDxBeaconStreet
Description:

Having seen the very best, the worst, and the ugliest of the food industry, Laurent Adamowicz gives a poignant account of how our food system has dramatically changed over the last two decades. Could the obesity epidemic be directly linked to what our food has been eating?

Senior Fellow 2011 in the Advanced Leadership Initiative at Harvard University, Laurent Adamowicz is a former food industry executive and serial entrepreneur. He is the founder & CEO of Bon'App, a simple nutrition guidance mobile application that tells you what's in your food.

This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences.

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Video Language:
English
Team:
TED
Project:
TEDxTalks
Duration:
17:38
  • HI Tatiana, This is fantastic! Thanks. I'll be happy to help with it if I can.
    Kind regards,
    Laurent

English subtitles

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