Addressing LA's Food Desert at Digital Hollywood 2018

Perspectives from Larta’s Ag Practice

by Elizabeth Ul

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Larta was well represented at this year’s 2018 Digital Hollywood conference at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. Our CEO Rohit Shukla, who was part of the “Food Innovators, Disruptors and Influencers” panel, shared with us the consumer driven value chain in the Ag industry that we’ve fondly come to name as the movement from Farm to Plate. With other phenomenal panelists, we were able to engage in dialogue that captured the move from sustainable farming and food practices to that of a transparent one, all thanks to the consumers desire to access knowledge of how their food made it to their local grocery stores or farmer’s market.

Our CEO, Rohit Shukla, on the “Food Innovators, Disruptors, and Influencers” Panel

Our CEO, Rohit Shukla, on the “Food Innovators, Disruptors, and Influencers” Panel

All of the panels on stage were provocative. In the opening morning plenary, featured keynote speaker Fran Drescher, actress-turned-wellness champion, gave a compelling plea for consumers to harness their power within food industry. Currently on a US tour to discuss her ‘Cancer Shmancer Movement’, her declaration of consumer purchase power to dictate to food & Ag companies what we want to be sold on our shelves was appreciated, but I was left wanting more. Fran did not address the economic and regional barriers to the healthy options that she was promoting. It is a very real problem that most low-income communities and communities of color have very little options when it comes to access to fresh foods or non-toxic products. Fortunately, the program later in the day expanded to include more panelists that spoke to racial and economic disparities of the wage/income gap and the very real existence of food deserts in Los Angeles.

The conference eventually closed the conversation loop on a more holistic perspective by providing the audience about ways to actively engage in movements around the access to healthy food and wellness right her in Los Angeles. I left the event feeling ‘hungry’ for more information around the food and wellness movement, so below are links to some of the companies highlighted at the conference that are doing compelling work in Los Angeles.

Fran Drescher’s Cancer Schmancer Movement

LA Food Policy Council

LA American Heart Association

Eat seafood more sustainably with Trashfish

Hungry for Mexican Cuisine with a Vegan Emphasis?

Elizabeth Ul is Larta’s Senior Program Associate with the Agriculture Practice Department, Elizabeth is excited to make a global impact by supporting entrepreneurs and innovators in commercializing socially responsible Agriculture technology.