The future of food? Discuss.

A large handful of the best minds in the sustainable food and agriculture world gathered at a conference in Washington DC today — Dan Barber, Wendell Berry, Will Allen, Marion Nestle, Fedele Bauccio, Gary Hirshberg, Tom Vilsack and more — all headlined by HRH The Prince of Wales. The day’s discussions took some deep dives, but the overall message was crystal clear. The world’s growing populations, finite land and water resources, and need for food are on a collision course.

This is not news to some. The statistics are daunting, the voices in the wilderness are louder but still relatively isolated. All enough to make one just sit on the stoop and cry.

There was, however, a bright thread of hope running through the day. Many at the conference have launched organizations that tackle pieces of the problem, both in the U.S. and abroad. Myriad tweeters spread the word(s) much farther than a set of rooms on the campus of Georgetown University. And — barring a lightness in the arena of mass food manufacturers and big retailers — a pretty broad spectrum of the food chain was present.

Washington Post Live hosted the event, under the rubric of “advancing the conversation.” This conversation is painfully slow, but that’s how we come up with solutions that work over the long run. Conversation ultimately leads to action — at the global, national, local or individual level. A strong future for food will require action at every single one of those levels.

Me? I was reminded yet again that eating locally is what I can do to keep local farmers in businesss and farmland in production, and strengthen the economy right around me. Tomorrow marks the seasonal re-opening of the FRESHFARM Market by the White House. The farmers will be selling from 3 to 7 pm. See you there.