Off the Charts

unchartedNow in its third year, Uncharted is a dynamic festival that features cutting-edge speakers, interactive labs, and pop-up performances. About 40 writers, innovators, and pioneers from across disciplines explore key topics in culture, food, education, public policy, the environment, activism, technology, and the arts. Speakers include Anna Lappé, Alice Medrich, Joshua Johnson, Sandra Gilbert, W. Kamau Bell, and many others. At the opening night party, guests enjoy live music, fresh food grilled outdoors, signature cocktails, and fine wine and beer. Cost: two-day early bird ticket $230; one-day early bird ticket $145; student tickets available. Info and tickets: here

Featured speaker and author Anna Lappé co-founded the Small Planet Institute and Small Planet Fund with her mother Frances Moore Lappé. Since 2002, the fund has raised and given away more than $1 million to grassroots food movement organizations. Lappé’s most recent book, Diet for a Hot Planet, looks at the connection between food and the climate crisis. Lappé recently shared an update with Edible East Bay on her current work, the food movement, and her upcoming talk at Uncharted.

Author and Small Planet Institute co-founder Anna Lappé is among the many innovative thinkers featured at Uncharted. Photo: Clark Patrick

Author and Small Planet Institute co-founder Anna Lappé is among the many innovative thinkers featured at Uncharted. Photo: Clark Patrick

Edible East Bay: Can you describe your current work with Real Food Media?

Anna Lappé: For more than a decade, I’ve been tracking how the food industry markets itself—from fast food giants pushing junk food on our kids to Big Pharma promoting animal agriculture to chemical companies hooking farmers on toxic inputs. I’ve seen how this industry has worked to influence the narrative about food—what’s healthy and what’s sustainable. I’ve watched how companies and trade groups have developed carefully coordinated media campaigns, spending billions of dollars every year.

In my David vs. Goliath way, I wanted to bring together a team of organizations and communicators to fight back against this misinformation, to expose myths pushed by Big Food, and raise up the stories of on-the-ground changemakers from farm fields to community garden plots. Real Food Media was born. Current projects include an international short films competition, a food mythbusting action center, grantmaking through the Small Planet Fund, ongoing writing and public engagement, and special partnerships like one with the Food Chain Workers Alliance.

EEB: What are your thoughts on living on the East vs West Coast in terms of the food movement?

AL: I know I’ve gotten a particular view of food activism in this country: I grew up in the decidedly left-of-center Bay Area, attended Brown (the Ivy League’s most liberal child), decamped to Brooklyn, and now call Berkeley home base. But I also know what I’ve seen across the country: I’ve visited nearly 100 cities across the nation and everywhere I’ve discovered amazing, passionate people trying to fix our broken food system. It’s not just Brooklyn or Berkeley—it’s happening everywhere. Also, while Berkeley may have the most kombucha mothers per capita of any town, this small city has a demographic makeup that’s totally representative of the nation: Our community suffers similar rates of totally preventable diet-related disease. That’s why I was so thrilled to be part of the Berkeley vs. Big Soda campaign, helping bring more than $1 million into our community every year as a result of the soda tax. There is no shortage of work to be done to reverse diet-related illnesses and expose the real impacts of chemical agriculture—on our bodies and our planet.

EEB: What will you be discussing at Uncharted?

AL: I’m thrilled to be attending Uncharted for the first time and to share exciting, underreported stories of what’s happening to food in this country:
-What does the soda tax mean for addressing the obesity epidemic?
-How is the food industry spinning the story of sustainability with millions of dollars in philanthropy every year?
-What’s the connection between the climate crisis and the food on our plate, and what can we do about it?
-What’s the scariest thing facing us in terms of the future of food? What’s the most hopeful?