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Mother Jones magazine and Food Tank brought an evening of appetizing conversation on access, affordability, and equity in the food system to Dynasty Typewriter last week, with discussions on everything from figs and burritos to actress and cancer survivor Fran Drescher’s crusade to detoxify our lives.

“Food For Thought” in the historic Hayworth Theater started out with a moving musical performance of “Shine Your Light” by Ghanaian singer and United Nations Goodwill Ambassador to Africa Rocky Dawuni that got the sold-out, standing room-only crowd swaying and singing along.

Rocky Dawuni (Melissa Gonzalez)

That was followed by the always entertaining and enlightening, L.A. Times features writer Gustavo Arellano discussing a variety of topics including “gente-fication”, which he says is a “cute term” to describe the  process of change a Latino neighborhood like Boyle Heights undergoes when young, upwardly mobile, often college-educated Latinos come back from school or a stint in the suburbs and open up businesses.

His lively conversation with Maddie Oatman of Mother Jones continued with the evolution of burritos in America and Arellano praising Sonoratown’s “best flour tortillas in Southern California.”

“Sadly, when Americans think of a burrito, they think of a Chipotle burrito,” Arellano told the crowd. “Now, this idea is eradicating burrito culture across the country. Chipotle really is the ‘tech bro’ company of Mexican food,” resulting in the disappearance of the old taquerias. “It all boils down to money.”

(Melissa Gonzalez)

Actress and uterine cancer survivor Drescher, who started the Cancer Schmancer Movement and Detox Your Home program dedicated to removing toxins from our lives and using food as medicine, came down just as hard on corporate America.

“There are manufacturers out there that really don’t care that they’re poisoning masses of poor people, the former Nanny star said from the cozy stage during a conversation moderated by this writer (L.A. Weekly food editor Michele Stueven). “And it sickens me.”

“We have to become mindful consumers and identify the things in our lives that cause disease and get rid of it,” said Drescher, who has been cancer free for almost 20 years.

“We have power as consumers,” she said. “For way too long, big business has numbed us down and dumbed us down.  Greed is the systemic malignancy that is the cause of all of our woes.  It all comes back to some sociopath making money, and we are the ones enabling these negative beings and we’re the ones who can change it.”

She wants to see industrial farms put out of business and only eats organic, avoiding any foods that cause inflammation which ultimately leads to disease.  And a healthy sense of self goes along with that.

“I’m doing the eight hours on, 16 hours off which helps me stay trim as possible and eat what I want,” Drescher said.

“I’m much heavier than I was on The Nanny, but I’m accepting and happy with myself.  This is the weight my body likes to be at, and I think I’m in a better place.  I’m loving myself and and don’t put myself down anymore.”

Chris Sayer of the 57-acre Petty Ranch in Ventura discussed the current celery craze, his family’s famous figs and soil health.

Artist and self-described gangsta gardener Ron Finley talked with Food Tank president Danielle Nierenberg about his project, which teaches people how to grow and share food by taking advantage of unused spaces to create urban gardens that nourish communities and create opportunity.

The mission of the nonprofit Food Tank organization is to highlight stories of hope and success in the food system creating affordability and accessibility and connecting with movers and shakers in the food community.

Click here to view the Food For Thought conversation.