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1/30/2009 —

The role of food in today’s society goes beyond that of mere nourishment. It has a powerful impact on the health, economics, national security, environment, ecosystems, and structure of the country’s diverse society. Food is a source of life and a source of conflict. It brings people together; it divides people by class, ethnicity, religion, geography, and even ideology.

Penn State Brandywine feels it’s time someone explained to everyday consumers just how deeply food affects their lives. The campus’ annual Clarence D. Bell Public Lecture Series, to begin on Feb. 19, will offer an intellectual feast throughout the spring to do just that.

A dynamic group of practitioners, scholars, and policymakers will take the community to the heart of debates about food technology, food policy/labeling, the dieting/obesity crisis, food engineering (including organic vs. genetically modified organisms (GMOs) vs. “healthy”), and agribusiness. The series offers a forum where students, faculty, staff, and the wider community can come together to learn and exchange ideas about one of the vital issues of its time.  

2009 Bell Lecture Series schedule at a glance:

February 19:  Packaged food labels that include nutrition symbols, production claims, health claims, and healthier choice symbols will be explained during “Fat Free to Free Range:  Better Food Choices or Tower of Babel? A Look at Consumer Use of the Food Label” by Nancy Childs, professor of food marketing at the Haub School of Business at Saint Joseph’s University.

March 3: Penn State University’s own Professor of Agricultural Engineering Paul Walker will address in laymen’s terms the concept of canning and processing foods that require no refrigeration. He will discuss the stability and safety of canned foods versus those in plastic packages—an issue any frequent canned-food aisle shopper should understand!

March 31: "Is a Sustainable Food System Possible and Might Food Citizens Take the Lead?" will be tackled by Iowa State University’s Professor of Religion and Philosophy Fred Kirschenmann. “In food circles sustainability is often characterized as ‘greening’ our present food system,” he said. “Citizens are becoming increasingly aware and interested in where their food comes from, how it is produced, and how it affects their lives, so we may be able to imagine a new generation of food citizens engaged in helping to reshape our food world.” Kirschenmann manages his family's 3,500-acre certified organic farm in south central North Dakota and is president of the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture.

April 14: To conclude the series, the campus will welcome Deanna M. Behring, former assistant director for International Affairs at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.  Behring worked directly on food policy for a number of years and will discuss the U.S.’s efforts to develop a strategic approach to countries regarding food aid—both direct aid and capacity-building. She is director of international programs for the College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State University.

The Clarence D. Bell Public Lecture Series was established in support of the estate of the late Senator Clarence D. Bell, the longest serving public official in Pennsylvania, who died July 26, 2002. The purpose of the series is to honor the senator’s memory and perpetuate his devotion to serving the population of Delaware County. 

The series is free and open to the public. Each of the four sessions will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Tomezsko Classroom Building, Room 103.

Penn State Brandywine is located at 25 Yearsley Mill Road in Media.

For more information on the series, please contact Risa Pitman at 610-892-1255, RLP29@psu.edu.

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