I have a question for you

Hi everyone. Long time seeing you all here, eh?

I’ve been focused on producing a branded podcast for Glassdoor, and a secret tech podcast that I can’t talk about yet, and gigs like moderating the opening panel at last week’s Podcast Forum at Digital Hollywood.

All good. A bit hectic. Looking forward to December, when my USC teaching semester will slow down and I can launch new writing and podcasting projects.

Toward that end, I have a question for you.

I have sitting on my laptop a finished book about how the world would be better if food innovators and activists could tell their stories to more people. After I wrote the final chapter, the book went to sleep and wouldn’t wake up. I realized that somehow I had written a book that nobody had to read right now, a dose of philosophy lacking enough action steps or sense of urgency.

Then it hit me that the best parts of the book were about climate change. Specifically, how we need to change our eating habits to address climate change. Changing our eating habits will change supply chains, change how energy is used to produce what we eat, change the energy system that accelerated climate change.

I realized that eating, which everybody will do for the rest of their lives, is a way to frame what we need address for the rest of our lives — climate change. It was a simple way into a complicated problem.

If you knew that changing your diet might help the planet, even a little, what would you do?

I’m opening up the comments on this blog, so please share your opinions about that question.

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To get things started, here’s a brief manifesto I wrote about the re-launch of the Future of Food podcast, coming next year.

A New Manifesto

It’s time to launch Season Two of the Future of Food podcast. We are going into production on ten new episodes.

Here’s what’s changing. Future of Food will become a podcast about eating better for ourselves and for the planet. We’ll be interviewing activists and change-makers, visiting innovative restaurants, sampling food trucks and community kitchens. We will explore how climate change is changing what we eat.

Eating less meat is part of how we must change. A plant-based diet would be better for ourselves and the planet. Producing meat on an industrial scale uses plenty of machinery and fuel. But Americans love meat, consuming more than 200 pounds of red meat and poultry each year. For many of us, eliminating meat is not something that we’d consider. But can we cut back? Seek alternatives? Try something new? I see this as a point of entry for the podcast: How can the Future of Food get you to eat something different? I wonder if an innovative chef, whether she is working in a kitchen or out of a food truck, can convince you.

And to complicate matters (because food supply chains can be complicated) eating fruits and vegetables that are grown industrially or shipped from far away can use almost as much fuel as producing meat and poultry. So cutting back on meat is just part of the story. The answer is to patronize smaller farms with shorter supply chains. The change we need is systemic and also personal. Which should come first? That’s what the podcast will get into. 

Here’s an early look at some of the themes we’ll cover in Season Two:

  • How food heals

  • Innovators in the kitchen

  • Read the Label – food labeling and what it doesn’t reveal

  • Food authors and activists on the actions you can take

  • How to eat better step by step

  • OG Foodies – the LA Locals who started it all

We have huge appetites for fuel, a taste for industrially-produced and processed food, and a system of consumption that outstrips our resources. But there are also larger forces at play: Our appetites support an energy system that is historically intertwined with capitalism and the patriarchy. To address climate change we must also address the system that got us here.

For decades, the bad practices of car manufacturers, energy companies, and our government, of urban planners and architects, have depleted the planet, pulled resources from the Earth, and spewed waste and pollution into the air and sea. Energy companies are still working hard and spending millions to confuse us about climate change or distract us from how it is happening. (See the work of journalist Amy Westervelt and especially her podcast Drilled for a deep look at this.)

As powerful as the disinformation distributed by energy companies can be, as hypnotic as the marketing messages we consume about industrialized and processed food are, our individual choices will light the way.

We have to start somewhere. Why not in the kitchen?

(If you’re a subscriber to this blog, just hit “Reply All” to comment.)

If you believe that changing your diet might help the planet, even a little, what would you do?