Koa Halpern, a 12-year-old vegetarian, is taking on fast food and he may just be young enough to really make a difference. As I listened to his presentation with my natural products industry colleagues, Koa managed to land a few fast-food punches that surprised even us. During one portion, he showed two packages of fries—one from McDonald's the others made from organic potatoes. After a year, the organic potatoes, as they should, had decomposed to a brownish, sludgy mess. The McDonald's potatoes? A little shriveled but certainly still edible looking—can we even call this stuff food?
Beyond Koa's message, what really struck me was his approach. To describe CAFO's he used words like pee, poop and fart—which may not inspire the Michael Pollan, Eric Schlosser crowd but terminology that certainly goes the distance with wriggling elementary schoolers. If change is what we're all hoping for, inciting this next generation is what really matters, and Koa's doing it. Thus far, more than 1,000 people have signed on to go fast-food free on his website. While his message has primarily been heard in Colorado's schools (and a visit to Reno, he likes to mention), Koa hopes to take the campaign nationally—when he's stashed enough allowance money to do so. His voice may be small, but I suspect potentially very powerful.