Alan Gilbertson. *Photo by Sarah Lagan
Alan Gilbertson. *Photo by Sarah Lagan
Creative and intellectual thought was abuzz at this weekend’s TEDxBermuda conference. Professors, lawyers, scientists and activists mixed with artists, musicians and poets in the first conference of its kind on the island. Ted is a non-profit organization that began in 1984 dedicated to “ideas worth spreading”. Ted stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design and experts in each field make presentations and answer questions from a live audience which are then broadcast for free on the Internet. Organizer John Narraway told us that he planned to organize a second conference in October and hinted that they could become a regular fixture on the island’s community calendar. Sarah Lagan and Amanda Dale attended the conference and reported on the numerous speakers.

Alan Gilbertson, managing director of FoodBank South Africa, spoke of how there are 11 million ‘food insecure’ people in South Africa, despite there being enough food in the country to feed them.

Mr. Gilbertson is part of a project which collects surplus “rescued food” from bakeries, supermarkets and companies such as Unilever and Nestlé.

The items are taken to warehouses where the labels are removed and the food is redistributed to schools and community groups.

Reaping rewards

The theme of Mr. Gilbertson’s speech was ‘Lifting the World With a Lever’, and it focused on how partnering and coordination can reap rewards for those in need.

“The point is all about leverage,” he said.

“Find your passion, use your leverage and lift your world.”

Mr. Gilbertson, a retired former executive with Orbis Investments in Bermuda, said that in South Africa, “food is the new gold”.

“But there is enough food grown in South Africa to feed everybody. It’s just not in the right place at the right time, and having the economics to buy it,” he said.

He spoke of how FoodBank South Africa has grown and its vision of “a South Africa without hunger or malnutrition”.

The network aims to create a food bank in every city and town in the country.

“We find food from every source we can,” said Mr. Gilbertson.

FoodBank South Africa also recycles surplus crops from farmers.

In return for perishable goods, farmers are given non-perishable food items.

At the rural food banks, it also encourages people to grow food and become independent.

TEDxBermuda 2011