Best known as the host of NPR’s “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me,” Peter Sagal is no newcomer to the world of food. “My grandfather ran a small grocery store in Cambridge, Mass., that was in my family from 1949 to 1999, and I grew up working there as a kid,” Sagal said during Saturday morning’s keynote address. “Because of this, I’ve always had a curiosity about food. Although if my grandfather were here, bless his memory, I don’t think he’d have any clue what any of you were talking about.”
Sagal moderated a panel that included a distributor, Melody Meyer of Albert’s Organics; a manufacturer, Keegan Sheridan, N.D., of Kashi Co.; and a retailer, the legendary Jimbo Someck of Jimbo’s…Naturally!
Sagal asked the questions of an articulate outsider, looking at the issues of industry growth, the local foods movement, marketing approaches and the impact of the current economic climate on shoppers’ choices. At one point, Sagal asked how the organic foods industry can point out the differences between organic and conventional products without resorting to fear-mongering.
“Our industry offers hope,” Meyer answered, which prompted Someck to shout, “Yes we can!,” to the delight of the crowd. For the most part, though, the panel played straight man to Sagal’s humorous asides.
“You’re a great audience, and I see you’re all mainly to my left, which is very comfortable to me,” Sagal said. “I am an outsider to your industry, and yet, like everybody else, I eat. I envy you that you sell a product without which everybody would die.”
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