LIVE: Cassie Parsons

Emcee Mike Watson asked the audience, “If it’s simple, it can’t be right. Right?” But in reality, the simplest of things are the right things to do, and the solutions are often right in front of us.

Cassie started her talk with a promise to “zip right through” because she knew we were all hungry. Hungry to eat the lunch provided by her restaurant, Harvest Moon Grille, to the attendees of TEDxCharlotte. (It was worth the wait, read about the menu.)

She started out by saying that she was nervous but not because she was afraid, because of the energy and synergy she felt in the room. Magical things are happening.

The main point of her talk was that we can change the world. We can all make a difference. She knows that she can’t make the change on her own and that the 450+ attendees of TEDxCharlotte, the Charlotte community, and outside our city walls can make the difference. Make the change in how the food industry does business.

She told about her first job at the age of 16 where she was asked to take cheese out of a can. Cheese to be served to customers of the establishment where she worked. She questioned this practice and was fired within the first hour. These types of events did not stop occurring.

There were the times she worked in restaurants where her creativity was squashed. She was cooking food that was pre-fabricated and frozen. She was nothing short of a factory worker, assembling food.

Our food industry is broken. We tell our farmers that they need to pump their livestock with steroids to make them grow faster, then pump the meat with antibiotics so that we don’t get sick, and do this over and over again. These farms are subsidized by the same powers that control how our meat is raised. This meat that we buy in grocery stores is 90% meat and 10% saline. We’re not even getting the 100% for our money.

There are 1,800 restaurants in Charlotte, and they’re all feeding us the same food from the same place. It all comes through the back door from all over the place. Why is it not coming from Charlotte or Concord or Lincolnton? The food comes in from everywhere but Charlotte, and the money leaves Charlotte. We’re starving ourselves.

At the end of her talk, Cassie asked us to do four things:

1) Go to the farmers market.  Find out what the farmers’ names are, what they grow, their stories. Support them. Get to know your community.

2) Start cooking at home.

3) Repeat: I will not buy meat I don’t know.

4) Have a conversation about food. Ask questions, get engaged. Knowledge is power.

Her big idea is to change the way the food industry is doing business. In Charlotte first and then move it to another city. We need to work together as a team. The money stays with us. It creates a team of people that are all working in the same direction. Magic is happening.

Cassie Parsons will change the way the industry is doing business.

Cassie Parsons

Chef Cassie Parsons is a restaurateur and owner of Harvest Moon Grille and Grateful Growers Farms where she practices craftsmanship agriculture in Lincoln, North Carolina. Her passion is for making local food available to the Charlotte area. In 2011, Chef Cassie was named both Restaurateur of the Year and Global Green USA Citizen Entrepreneur by Charlotte Magazine. Follow Harvest Moon Grille on Twitter or Facebook to stay up-to-date with their work.

Live blog post by Kseniya Martin.