“I want to change your perception about every bite of food you bring to your lips.”
Kyle Cherek’s “We Eat What We Are” TEDxUW Milwaukee talk, highlighted how flavor plays a role in our memory and identity. His talk explored how flavors formed us and how our food choices affect our future.
Nearly 40 people attended the “I Am. We Are.” TEDxUWMilwaukee Talk Back event held in the UWM Alumni Fireside Lounge on the evening of Monday, Oct. 24.
The lively discussion panel highlighted three of the 10 presenters from the 3rd Annual TEDxUWMilwaukee Conference that took place on Saturday, Oct. 8. Co-President Kacee Ochalek facilitated the Q&A session that featured speakers Kyle Cherek, Rayna Andrews, and La’Ketta Caldwell, members of the Milwaukee community who have made an impact locally by bringing awareness to their individuals causes. The three speakers shared their inspiration behind their talks as as well as their future plans. This year’s theme “I Am. We Are.” focused on the identity of a person, their characteristics, and the impact of the identity on the community, culture, and self.
Cherek is a self –described culinary historian and a three-time Emmy nominee. He hosts “Wisconsin Foodie” on Wisconsin Public Television and “Chef Talk”, a video series of conversations with chefs.
“I believe in personal responsibility,” he told the audience. “I tell stories about food to raise people’s consciousness to heal the planet. I just want to make people aware.”
The discussion lasted about two hours, and the talks, which each lasted about 15 minutes, were shown one-by-one via projector as members of the audience asked questions between each speech.
The next speaker was Rayna Andrews, Senior Director of Feeding America of Eastern Wisconsin. Andrew’s topic “Food Insecurity is a Public Health Concern” brought to light the importance of food scarcity as a public health problem.
“There are 24 million Americans that suffer from not having enough food. That’s 1 in 7. In Milwaukee, it’s 1 in 4,” she said during her Tedx talk.
Andrews grew up in an environment where there was a lack of food. She was humiliated that people had to see her family paying with food stamps. Andrews admits that she has cut out many memories of her youth because of food scarcity.
Her talk focused on an approach to solving food insecurity as well as addressing the root of this problem. She speaks of four core pillars to household stability- food, housing, healthcare, employment- with each pillar relying on one another.
Andrews’ personal goal is to insure that the agenda for solving hunger is on the desk of every legislature.
“I have become a walking billboard for that which I am passionate about,” she told the audience.
The final speaker of the evening was La’Ketta Caldwell, founder of Keyta Life, and Senior Program Manager of the Arts Education Department at the Boys & Girls Club.
Stemming from journal entries created after her brother committed suicide due to issues with being bipolar, Caldwell’s talk titled “Say Something” stressed the importance of talking about mental illness.
“When you return to the real world after somebody close to you takes their life, nothing is the same,” Caldwell said during her Tedx talk.
“One. Two. Three. Four.,” she said as she pointed to four members of the audience, emphasizing that one in four people are touched by mental illness.
Caldwell asks that people treat physical and mental illness the same, asking those around her to not bury suicide within in families but rise up and a say something.
“What’s important is to live your true self and be honest,” she told the audience.
As the discussion came to a close, an audience member stood up and thanked the speakers for sharing their stories and vulnerability with the audience.
TedxUWMilwaukee is an independent, student-organized group that provides a platform for people around Milwaukee to share their story. They hold one large conference each year with several smaller talks dispersed throughout the year. For more information about TedxUWMilwaukee or any of the speakers from this year’s conference, visit tedxuwmilwaukee.com.