The Organic Dynamic: Defining the Challenges & Opportunities

Today's population is subject to worldwide effects from growing threats of peak oil, global warming, population overload and destruction of the natural environment. Such threats exist independent of our will. 'How we deal with these changes' will be the topic of Dr. Wayne Roberts' keynote address, at the upcoming Organic Conference at the University of Guelph, January 22-25.

In response to these impending problems, there will need to be a physical reconstruction of our global food system. What Roberts refers to as "Hardware" changes - the retooling of industries to transition toward a society based on sustainable energy, food production and delivery systems.

Unilaterally, Roberts suggests that consumers will look upon food in a different light. The result of addressing the "hardware" changes will be a rise of consciousness and connectedness. Food will become more than another commodity.

Can a new awareness of the 'value of food' be born in terms of 'calories per dollar', the 'social connections' that result from more localized food supplies, and the understanding of the link between quality of life and the vitality of the soil? These 'software' changes, as Roberts refers to them, will result in an enriched global society where we strive to provide each other with the ability to grow and eat healthy food regardless of class, political or geographical terms.

Roberts suggests that new opportunities can be created as a result of the shifts of these hard and soft ware trends. Opportunities for organically produced food can open up. And so with these emerging opportunities there can be change in the face of organics. From a niche market catering to the demand of ethically conscious consumers, the ideals and practices that are the backbone of organics, may be the foundation of the rebirth of a planet-wide solution that is able to meet the needs of all of it's inhabitants.

Wayne Roberts has worked throughout his life to link social justice, public health, job creation and environmental protection. With a Ph.D in history from the University of Toronto, Roberts taught McMaster University's Labour Studies Programme, hosted CBC radio's "Rank and File", pens articles for a number of newspapers and periodicals. His name is synonymous with a long list of social causes including OPSEU, the Coalition for a Green Economic Recovery, Toronto Department of Public Health, Toronto Food Policy Council, Food and Hunger Action Committee, Toronto's Food Charter, Eaters Digest,, Food Secure Canada, and is the recipient of the Planet in Focus Eco-Hero Award for 2008. Roberts has also written and produced numerous publications on social and employment equality and is the author of three books, Get A Life!, Real Food For A Change, and his most recent, The No Nonsense Guide to World Food.

The internationally acclaimed speaker will be delivering the keynote presentation at the 2009 Guelph Organic Conference, on January 24, 9:00 a.m., at University of Guelph's Rozanski Hall. Admission is $15. Register by mail or on-line at

Celebrating its 28th year, the four day event includes international speakers, seminars and introductory workshops on frontline topics including GMOs, organic production and certification, food in a changing climate, eco-villages, earth buildings, farmland protection and food security. From producer to eater, the workshops offer something for everyone. PLUS an Organic Expo and Tasting Fair with 160+ exhibitors on Saturday and Sunday, free to the public. This is your opportunity to sample and purchase a plethora of organic, fair trade products and meet the makers, movers and shakers.

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