By Hannah Fortin
I recently spent a week traveling around California with a group of students from universities in California and Switzerland developing a knowledge of the challenges that face the food system on a state and global scale. We attended this trip with the intention of working towards innovative solutions.
I had no idea what to expect as I began this experience, but after having the chance to reflect, I know any expectations I could have had were met and exceeded. Not only were we exposed to some of the leaders for change regarding the way we think about food and the future, but we had the unique opportunity to have our ideas of what we saw augmented by the brilliant and diverse minds of students with an entirely different perspective on our processes and our nation.
It is difficult to choose a favorite portion of the tour, but for me, the most thought-provoking conversations stemmed from our experiences visiting startup incubators, particularly Indie Bio. We were all fascinated by the technological and scientific advancement ideas that the people there were working to develop. From improving drought-tolerant vegetation to creating a plant-based, flattening-resistant latte foam, we were able to analyze the huge differences these individuals’ work could make just by starting out with small challenges that they saw. After we heard from these innovators, we were asked to spend a few minutes working on our own solutions to the problems that we had seen in the food system during the week. In a small amount of time, we were able to come up with a large variety of technological or legislative methods to address challenges not only in the United States or Switzerland, but globally. It really gave me hope for the future of agriculture and humanity.
I am truly thankful for the people at ETH Global, UC Davis, the Mixing Bowl Hub, and other partnering organizations for enabling us to have our minds expanded and take steps toward change. I am grateful for their part in our academic and cultural education. To learn more about each place we visited, see the blog posts each of the attendees wrote on foodsystemstories.com.