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Food Futures

In partnership with KCETLink, the UCLA Laboratory for Environmental Narrative Strategies (LENS) launched a year-long collaboration (2017-2018) to experiment with different models and media for reporting environmental stories. The collaboration also involved extensive contributions from faculty and MFA students in UCLA’s documentary film program in the School of Theater, Film and Television.

The third series in this partnership is the multimedia storyline "Sustainable Food Futures,” which explores current innovations and visions for ecological, equitable food systems. Looking beyond both agribusiness and farm-to-table, the following stories cover diverse possibilities for the future of sustainable food in our region that also draw on long histories of cultivation and eating. They feature restaurants as both biodiversity labs and income equality advocates, staple crops and ancient proteins as resilient foods for the future, and culinary professions as important as farmers and other food producers to sustainable and just diets in an urban context like Los Angeles.

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Vegan Hooligans - Jose Mejia
Broken Bread

The Vegan Hooligans: Plant-Based Food for All

Punk is more than just an aesthetic for The Vegan Hooligans, it's in the DIY spirit of Mejia's work.
Participants of L.A. Kitchen's food culinary training program chop vegetables. Still from video by Chase Alexander

After Prison, Working Toward a Healthier Food Future

L.A. Kitchen teaches culinary skills to those whose memories of eating ‘on the inside’ remain fresh.
Dishwashers Esteban Soc, left, and Joselino Aguilar, right, at work in the kitchen of Mexican restaurant Caracol in Houston, Texas. | Scott Dalton for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Are Eaters the Key to Better Restaurant Wages and Working Conditions?

From paying healthcare surcharges on bills, to advocating for higher minimum wages, diners may tip the scales in favor of sustainable restaurant labor. 
Dessert at Baudar's wild food walk, made with dates, flavored with wild plants, and decorated with wild flowers I Camille Frazier

Wild Cuisines, Risky Futures: Reimagining What We Consider Edible Species

What does the future of the local food movement hold and what are the new sustainability blueprints being used by experimental chefs and eco-entrepreneurs?
Carlos managing the back of the house at RiceBar | Elaine Gan

Tinkering with Heirloom Futures: The Journey of a Few Grains of Rice

The heirloom rice cooked at RiceBar embodies complex issues about modernity, climate change and the Anthropocene.
Chapulines a la Mexicana at Guelaguetza | Yubo Wang

Edible Insects: Chili-Lime Crickets and Mexican Culinary Traditions

There is a growing appetite for alternative proteins in the U.S. and thanks to culinary pioneers, the United States is just beginning to catch up to what is already the present all over the globe.
Photo from a restaurant I Comfort Azubuko

Portable Cultures, Food futures: How to Make Injera in Los Angeles

Residents of cosmopolitan cities seeking a food future with multicultural food experiences face unique challenges when searching for the perfect balance between local and global influences and ingredients. 
During potato harvest season in the Potato Park in Cusco, Peru, the mountains are dotted with farmers cultivating potatoes in every hue found in the rainbow. | International Potato Center (CIP) / CC BY-NC 2.0

The Global Potato: Food Futures of the Past

The potato not only represented a hope for a different kind of food future in 1664 for England, but it also made so many more individual futures possible, providing food where there otherwise would have been none.
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