Ethan Brown and Michael Roberts
UCLA's Tech + Innovation Initiative brought together two leaders in the world of food on May 24 for a wide-ranging discussion on food production and consumption, sustainability and law and policy. Michael Roberts, executive director of the Resnick Center for Food Law and Policy, and Ethan Brown, founder and CEO of the cutting-edge plant-based food producer Beyond Meat, presented a special UCLA Tech Talk on "The Future of Food." An audience of more than 800 took in the event live or via livestream.
Brown described his journey from being a young man who saw the workings of a family ranch to a student focused on addressing climate change. He eventually zeroed in on the energy-related concerns of agriculture as well as healthy eating, and said his goal now is to "build meat perfectly from plants." His company's product, the Beyond Burger, the first plant-based meat to be sold alongside beef, poultry, and pork in the meat section of the grocery store.
As Brown talked about the evolution of his company, the marketplace and issues such as legal resistance to the use of the word "meat" on his product, Roberts tied Brown's efforts to broader issues of food regulation. For example, he observed that in 2015, for the first time, an advisory council to the agencies that promulgate the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowances of food products proposed integrating the sustainability of dietary choices into the guidelines. The proposal proved controversial and has yet to be implemented in the U.S., Roberts said, though other countries have moved more swiftly to tie together the concepts of diet, health and sustainability.
View the full discussion.