In her February 11 keynote address, “Building the 21st Century Food System: Capitalizing on the New Food Economy,” presented by Horizon Organic, O’Brien will describe her journey from Wall Street to the farmers’ market aisle and call for change in the food industry to protect the health of our families.
After her youngest child was diagnosed with a life-threatening food allergy, O’Brien created an allergic reaction in the food industry when she asked “Are we allergic to food or to what’s been done to it?” and exposed the skyrocketing rate of food allergies and other diet-related and environmental health issues.
“This generation of kids has earned the reputation of “Generation Rx” because of the rates of food allergies,” O’Brien said at the 2016 Environmental Media Association Awards, where she was honored. “Those kids have done nothing to deserve that and we have every opportunity to fix it.”
A former financial and food industry analyst, O’Brien has been called “food’s Erin Brockovich.”
O’Brien analyzed the impact that our food system has on the health of our families, companies, and our economy in her bestselling book, The Unhealthy Truth, and became recognized around the world after her TEDx talk in 2011, which has been viewed by millions.
Her work has drawn the connection between the rising rate of food allergies and cancer, ballooning U.S. health care costs, and the introduction of genetically engineered (GE) ingredients—now found in 80 percent of U.S. processed foods—into the American food supply.
“Governments around the world said we’re going to exercise precaution and we’re not going to allow [GE technology] into our food supply because it hasn’t yet been proven safe, and yet here we said, it hasn’t yet been proven dangerous, and we allowed it,” O’Brien said in her TEDx talk. “[Companies] need to place the same value on the lives of American eaters that they’ve already placed on the lives of eaters in other countries,” she continued.
O’Brien has been featured on CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg, the Today Show, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, CBS, and countless media outlets, and she wrote a popular column for Prevention while serving as the Executive Director of the AllergyKids Foundation, which she founded, and doing strategic advisory work for companies making changes in the food industry. O’Brien also produces a weekly podcast, Take Out with Ashley and Robyn.
She has been named by SHAPE Magazine as a “Women to Shape the World,” by Forbes Woman as one of “20 Inspiring Women to Follow on Twitter,” and by The Discovery Channel as one of its 15 Top Visionaries.
“Robyn has made the personal political. She is giving voice to other mothers and to the children and families who are burdened with health problems as a result of the corporate manipulation of our food,” said OEFFA Program Director Renee Hunt.
O’Brien will speak as part of Ohio’s largest sustainable food and farm conference, which will run Thursday, February 9 through Saturday, February 11 at the Dayton Convention Center.
In addition to O’Brien, this year’s conference will feature keynote speaker Jim Riddle on February 10; nearly 80 educational workshops; four pre-conference intensive workshops on February 9; a three-day trade show; networking events; activities for children and teens; locally-sourced meals; a raffle; book sales and signings, and more.
For more information about the conference, or to register, go to www.oeffa.org/conference2017.
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