Sacramento Bee
By Anne Gonzales

While Michael Dimock called on America to "rise up" and demand food that's healthier for people and the planet, Eric Benson explained that his family business will spend $30 million to make roomier pens for egg-laying hens.

And thousands of eyes nationwide watched the debate from their computer screens, tweeting and posting reactions on Facebook.

The two men were part of a panel at UC Davis in Thursday's first-ever national town hall-style virtual forum where the public could participate by webcast, asking farmers and other experts about how food is grown and raised.

"Food Dialogues," organized by U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance and moderated by ABC news correspondent Claire Shipman, gathered news broadcasters, agency officials, chefs, researchers, sustainable farming advocates, farmers and consumers from far-flung reaches of the nation for a four-hour discussion.