Alaina Kowitz: Where do you live and what do you do?

Amanda Oborne: I live right here in Portland, Oregon, and am on a mission to fix our food system! I lead a team of passionate and creative individuals at Ecotrust who help Pacific Northwest schools, hospitals, colleges, and other institutions connect and buy from local farmers, ranchers, and fishers, and create the infrastructure networks to make those relationships work at scale.

AK: What are you most excited about for this year’s Living Future unConference?

AO: I’m on a panel with a couple of incredible women who are changing the world – Lane Selman in particular is literally influencing what’s in the ground and on menus at the hottest restaurants in Portland and Seattle. She works with chefs to translate the tastes and flavors on which they’re fascinated, and connects them with plant breeders and farmers to adapt seeds from cuisines of the world to grow right here in the Northwest. She’s taking local food to a whole new level.

AK: Can you give us a taste of what you’ll be talking about in your session at Living Future?

AO: My part of the conversation will probably focus on meat. Meat has by far the biggest economic footprint and the biggest ecological footprint of anything in our food system, so if we change the game in meat, we change the whole game. First meat game-changer is to eat less of it, so hurray for folks motivated to become vegan or vegetarian, or to simply shift toward more plant-based diets. When we do eat meat, ideally it would be from integrated farming systems that build soil, improve nutrition, and treat animals well.

AK: Where do you think we should be focusing as a sustainability community in 2018?

AO: I would like to see us think collaboratively about how to measure whole systems, rather than just component parts. It’s a simple idea in concept, but incredibly challenging in practice.

AK: If you’ve been to Living Future before, what’s your favorite thing about the conference?

AO: I am always blown away by the caliber of the keynote speakers. I’ve seen Raj Patel before and find him one of the most eloquent and entertaining speakers out there talking about food and economic systems, so I can’t wait to hear what he has to say.

AK: What’s the most exciting thing that has happened to you over the past couple of years?

AO: Last year we launched a new project in Portland called the Redd on Salmon Street. It is part food hub, part entrepreneurial incubator, and part living laboratory for growing the regional food system. Home to exciting start-ups like B-Line Sustainable Urban Delivery and New Foods Kitchen, and the national headquarters of the innovative nonprofit, FoodCorps, the Redd is ground zero for collaborative innovation and a model of regenerative design in its own right.

Attend Amanda’s panel and other inspiring sessions at Living Future this May:

Written By

Alaina Kowitz

Alaina serves as the Communications Design Manager at ILFI, upholding and guiding the Institute’s visual and written brand. She also works on the Trim Tab blog site and serves as editor for guest posts and other written projects. You can reach her at