Sustainability next on ‘Talk About Food’ museum menu

By Michael Prager
Globe Correspondent / May 18, 2011

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Since food sustains humankind, how well humankind sustains food would be a great topic for public discussion. Hence, “Food and Sustainability,’’ the next event in the Museum of Science’s two-year “Let’s Talk About Food’’ series.

John E. Carroll, a professor of environmental conservation at the University of New Hampshire, who will be a panelist, finds faults along several lines, beginning with the price of food and its inextricable link to petroleum. His sustainability solution is food independence, in which each locale gets its meat, grains, vegetables, and dairy nearby. But he is not an absolutist. “There’s no problem with people enjoying exotic or tropical foods,’’ Carroll says.

Sustainability is only the latest topic in the series, whose first year concludes June 25 on the Charles River Greenway, kitty-corner to the museum behind the Royal Sonesta Hotel. The Let’s Talk About Food Festival will feature food, fun, and an “endless table’’ of food-issue discussions conceived by Louisa Kasdon, a writer and editor who has guided the series throughout.

Nutrition was a previous subject, and the region’s fisheries was to be another. But David Rabkin, the museum’s director for current science and technology, said they found the subject so broad that they will instead approach it from several directions next year.

That’s how the whole series developed. When a weekday afternoon showing of the documentary “Food, Inc.’’ proved a sellout attraction, “We realized that we needed not just a few programs about food but a full and discrete program,’’ says David Sittenfeld, who manages the museum’s forums.

“Food and Sustainability’’ on May 26, 7 p.m., at the Museum of Science, 1 Science Park, Boston. Free. For more information on the June 25 festival, go to