I had the pleasure of attending the True Cost of American Food conference organised by the Sustainable Food Trust back in April in San Francisco. I use the word “attending” lightly because while I was there, I really did not see much of the conference. You see, I was there to take portraits of the speakers for the Culinaria project as the speakers scheduled for the conference included many leading thinkers and voices of the food world.

The level of brain power in the Herbst Pavilion for the two days of the conference was astounding! Economists, policy makers, journalists, activists, a couple of MacArthur fellows. As often happens in these kinds of situations, it was fun to see the speakers interact with each other “in the hallways”. Most of them are friends. And if they don’t know each other, know and respect their work from afar. It’s this informal interaction that strengthens old connections and creates new networks that grow into things down the line that the organisers of the event can’t foresee.

It was great to hear the excitement in the voice of the subjects as they entered the studio to be photographed. “Man, she’s a firecracker!” someone said about Saru Jayaraman’s presentation. “Joel Salatin really got the crowd going” I heard from another. These people came to present, but they were equally eager to listen.

I knew going in that I would not be able to get all the speakers scheduled (I don’t know if it was logistically possible due to sheer number of them). But I did manage to get, I think, roughly half. It was also a pleasure to see friends and familiar faces from the food world as well meeting new people working in this field.

View a selection of portraits from the two conference days above or visit www.romancho.com to see the full gallery.

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