Dining to Make a Difference
And Profound Impact from Everyday Acts

Musings from Vergant founder Wendy Dubit

For all of my adult life, I have been eating and drinking to make a difference -- cognizant of the power that each act, every purchase and all of us have to change the world in simple but profound ways.

It was not enough for me, in college, to find a legitimate way around the drinking age by writing about wine and food: I had to experience my subjects first-hand. And so I trawled for crayfish in the bayou; fished for baby eels under a full Basque moon; made Calvados and Cognac; pulled on barnyard boots and learned butter-making from the inside. It was less about food and wine and travel than about sharing culture and breaking bread with growers, makers, bakers and friends.

When I ran Friends of Wine/Les Amis du Vin and later started Wine Enthusiast magazine, I was often treated to six-million-calorie tours of the world. My favorite saying from that era: "It's not what's on the table, but what's on the chairs…." I tried to make sure that the tasting society and publications were not just news and reviews, but that they elevated our senses and celebrated people and place.

FarmHands-CityHands was the earthy org sprung straight from those days. I had been lucky enough to force-feed geese in Périgueux. Some children had been too deprived to see farm animals even in books. So I started a series of FarmDay field trips that had city folk from all walks of life tending animals, planting seeds, harvesting food and flowers -- learning, literally, what does and does not grow on trees. For farmers, we made direct connections to consumers, markets and restaurateurs…taking deep and personal part in a best-of-local movement that helped bring more kinds of apples to market and meant a whole lot of exchange between PEOPLE. My realizations from that experience: In truth, we feed each other.

I founded WorldWise marketing and events in part as a response to FarmHands' popularity at home and abroad. I was able to help the Greek Trade Commission remake the image of Mediterranean wine and food in the U.S., and later started Foods and Wines of Israel -- encouraging foreign investment in that country, and planning for peace feasts in which a mile-long table would bridge the borders between Israel and neighboring lands. I traveled the former Soviet Union sharing food and farming experiences and skills, as well as talk of free markets and lots of local wine.

When I taught math and reading to so-called “learning disabled” children, I took my love of food and PEOPLE along -- learning that a little interest can go a long way. A child who might hate math could nonetheless love and learn from pizza (itself an artful instructor of measurements and multiplication). A child who resisted English could usually be lured to “run a magazine” about their favorite subject, and, in that capacity, to assign, edit, interview and write. I knew I had taught them well when they realized they were teaching me.

These experiences were followed by great adventures and serial start-ups in the entertainment, education and new media fields, and by the founding of Vergant as a vehicle for creating pro-social programs, products and marketing campaigns imbued with vibrancy, impact and meaning.

Dining to Make a Difference is one such project -- pulled from so much I have cared about and loved over the years, and made even more urgent and relevant in the aftermath of 9.11.

Dining to Make a Difference marked a return to my first and favorite industry at what I strongly felt was its finest hour. It represented my vow not to return "business as usual." Despite...or perhaps because of...unprecedented tragedy on our own soil, communities had drawn closer, our inter-relatedness was clear, and I knew that my work would reflect these things in inspired and ongoing ways.

So I was delighted when all these factors and more came together in the form of The Senses Bureau -- dedicated to the celebration, education and cross-pollination of our senses, and designed to bring more joy and meaning to our learning, work, health, loves and lives.

For every good reason and in every sense, I hope you will join me.

Warmly and looking forward,

wendy@vergant.com

    

 

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  WENDY@VERGANT.COM 301.530.0684
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