I went to Amazon before writing to you today. There, I discovered that there are 45,770 books available on the topic of networking. I explored the subject of networking because I went to a Sustainability Conference at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) yesterday – an event I almost didn’t attend. All too often, I think to myself that “NO, I won’t go. I’m too busy.” Or, “I can’t afford to go to an out-of-town meeting.” Yet when I do go, I am bowled over as I was yesterday. Not only was I dazzled by all the exciting and often challenging new information I gained, but also by the realization that much of the knowledge I gained only emerges during talks given by experts with an extraordinary range of data. Yesterday, for instance, I learned that there are regulations preventing wineries in California from reusing water sources for irrigation — even though these same water sources have been purified using the same processes as water for drinking. Surely, this fact has nothing to do with that miracle about turning water into wine?
I was shocked to hear from my brilliant friend and colleague, noted Wine Professor Steven Kolpan, (see his blog!), that a profound consequence of global warning “may shift the American center of wine from Mendocino or Napa, California to North Dakota (possibly over 1,500 miles!) in order to maintain the desired balance of acidity in the grapes.” Further, that “Warming temperatures will encourage infestations of pests as is already occurring in Germany. And nobody knows what to do about it.” (Will sustainable farmers be forced to spray or have to rethink the idea of releasing millions of ladybugs to gobble the newly emerging noxious pests?) By the end of this gathering, my little grey cells were electrified with new ideas and my emotions were further stimulated by meeting old friends and making new ones. I mention these things to remind myself that there is simply nothing to compare with maintaining what I once heard was described as a ‘mind alive’. I’m already on the look out for the next food conference. I hope to meet you there wherever it will be.