Did you know that in the next hour the population will increase by 15,000 people? And by 2050, it will swell to more than 9 billion! This will require a lot more food ―in fact, 70% more!

The most common question is – how on earth will we feed 9 billion people? What worries me is what’s missing in this question. We need to go beyond simply producing more food, and produce more higher-quality food.

Right now in every corner of the country, people are at the table discussing how to tackle food security and sustainability issues and even how to define a high-quality food. It’s no longer enough to simply be nutritious, food needs to be “good for all” – with “all” representing schools, communities, our planet and future generations.

So, the real question should be – how can we feed 9 billion people and feed them well? This is where science, Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) and farmers come into the conversation. Whether it’s helping to provide food that is healthier, sustainable and ethically sourced or tackling food security issues of a growing population, science-based guidance is an essential part of the equation for feeding the world.

There’s never been a greater need for dietitians and farmers to share their expertise, especially when it comes to the definition of sustainable foods and agriculture. And I have a dream of having the most talented RDNs and farmers at the table, sitting side by side with medical experts, environmental scientists and business leaders discussing the future of food.

To me, everything we do as RDNs matters more than ever for the challenges our country and world face. As people seek out information on where their food comes from, dietitians need to be at the center of these conversations to bring their unique knowledge and insights, skills and, most important, science-based expertise to help inform, inspire and, ultimately, reshape America’s appetite. It’s almost like Thanksgiving we need a seat at the adult table rather than being assigned to the kid’s table.

Just as dietitians provide advice grounded in science, farmers are committed to using science to help develop sustainable food systems to help support healthy people, communities and a healthy planet. I have to say I feel very fortunate to be a dietitian who is able to work for the 53,000 American dairy farm families. About 98% of today’s dairy farms regardless of size or region are owned by farm families who live and work on the land. So, protecting the environment is not just part of their livelihood, it’s part of their legacy because they want to pass their land on to next generation.

As people are asking more about where their food comes from, how are you helping to reshape the conversation?