Food-LabelsOur friends at Consumer Reports are  inviting the public to join them at a special all-day event in San Francisco’s City Hall on September 19, 2014 from 9:30am – 4pm called America’s Most Wanted Labels. The event will explore the food labels and underlying practices that make for a truly meaningful marketplace and those labels that don’t, like “natural.” At the end of the day, we hope you come away knowing the difference among labels, so you can make a difference in the marketplace.  It is free, and open to the public, but we do ask that you RSVP here.

The day will feature many accomplished panelists, who have committed much of their lives to changing food production systems for the better. They will cover a range of issues including farm-worker rights, animal welfare, truly sustainable agricultural practices, and meaningful certification. By bringing the breadth and depth of these pioneering experts, we hope to crystallize what is really right and wrong – and help highlight how we can create a true market demand for better production practices and better labels. We hope to educate and empower the audience to make more informed food-purchasing decisions.

Informing the event are Consumer Reports surveys, which consistently show that a large percentage of consumers don’t know the difference between labels that are meaningful and those that aren’t, including “natural,” which leads consumers to pay more and get less than they expect. Our results also show that credible labels cannot effectively compete in the marketplace amongst all the “natural” noise.

The event will cap a three-month campaign to kill the very misleading natural label and spread awareness about the sustainable production practices like fair trade, animal welfare and organic – and the claims in those areas that truly meet consumer expectations and those that don’t. Unlike the natural label, credible labels are underwritten by meaningful agricultural practices and are verified. We are inviting you as an influencer in the food movement – and as a key stakeholder among the consumers, non-profits, foundations, media, chefs, and food companies that all share a common interest in setting a high bar for the marketplace.


The day will begin promptly at 10:00am with a brief introduction from Urvashi Rangan (Executive Director of Consumer Reports Food Safety and Sustainability Center) and Elisa Odabashian (Director, Consumers Union’s West Coast Office) followed by a short welcome video from Congresswoman Jackie Speier. Tara Duggan, reporter from the San Francisco Chronicle will then kickoff the day of panel discussions.  Panel sessions and timing for the day will include:


Farmworkers and Fair Conditions – moderated by Colette Cosner (Executive Director, Domestic Fair Trade Association) with Marty Mesh (Executive Director, Florida Organic Growers and Consumers, Inc.), Jim Cochran (Farmer/Owner Swanton Berry Farm, the first certified organic strawberry producer in California) and the distinguished guest, Dolores Huerta (labor leader and civil rights activist and President of The Dolores Huerta Foundation).


Raising Animals with True Welfare – moderated by Leslie Hatfield (Communications Director, GRACE) with Andrew Gunther (Program Director of Animal Welfare Approved), Carter Dillard (Director of Litigation for Animal Legal Defense Fund) and if his NFL schedule permits, Will Witherspoon (NFL linebacker for St Louis Rams and owner of Shire Gate Farm).

1pm – Box lunches provided. 


Consumer Reports National Research Center’s Donato Vaccaro and Olufemi Olu-Lafe will provide an overview of our recent national labeling polls and their significance.


Trailer screening of Food Chains, an upcoming documentary that explores critical human rights issues in American agriculture directed and produced by Sanjay Rawal.


Sustainable Food Production – Where we have come from and where we are headed moderated by Patty Lovera (Associate Director, Food and Water Watch) with Michael Sligh (Farmer, Founding Chair of the National OrganicStandards Board, Director of Just Food Program for RAFI-US), Paul Willis (Farmer, Co-founder, Owner, Niman Ranch) and Will Harris (Farmer, Founder, Owner, White Oak Pastures Farm).


America’s Most Wanted Labels: Creating True and Meaningful Demand – moderated by Clare Leschin-Hoar (award winning freelance journalist) with Urvashi Rangan (Executive Director, Consumer Reports’ Food Safety and Sustainability Center).


Closing remarks

We look forward to hearing from you and hope you can participate in our day-long conference.  The hashtag for the conference before and during will be #knowyourlabels.  And we encourage the audience to be as engaged as possible on social media.

In between now and then, we are teaming up with TakePart in a series of articles and information pieces called Know Your Labels, Know Your Food and we are asking supporters to sign our petition at Once you register, we will send you updates and be in touch as we get closer to the day. Hope to see you in September and please RSVP.


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