LA Foodways Backplate

Ch 1: From Farm to Freeway

Los Angeles wasn’t always a sprawling city — it used to be largest farming county in the nation. Through interviews with historians, a 94-year-old farmer and a first-person narrative from a fifth-generation farming family in Lakewood, we are taken back in time and asked to reimagine a landscape that was based on farming the land and wide-open spaces.  In stark contrast today, we learn that over 1.5 million people in Los Angeles — the population of some states – are struggling with food scarcity, not knowing where their next meal will come from. Los Angeles, once the largest farming community in the country, is now home to the largest food insecure population in the nation. The irony is striking; we look at our history to try to understand how we got here.

We speak historians Rachel Surls and Judith B. Gerber, authors of “From Cows to Concrete: The Rise and Fall of Farming in Los Angeles,” David Boule, author of “The Orange and the Dream of California” and Wade L. Graham about the beginnings of Los Angeles County. Tim Alderson of Seeds of Hope and Roy C. Pursche, who both come from farming backgrounds, also give us a glimpse of life back when Los Angeles had a robust farming way of life.

Available until

Get the free PBS App

Full Episodes

Upcoming Airdates

LA Foodways

“Foodways” was first coined in 1942 by anthropologists, folklorists and food scholars to describe the study of why we eat what we eat, and what it means: “Food at the intersection of culture, tradition and history.” Our attitudes, practices and rituals around food are a window onto our most basic beliefs about the world and ourselves.

  • 2021-01-03T08:00:00-08:00