If you're looking for something to do this weekend beyond reading about the 232 tons of potatoes Olympic athletes are tossing back this year, there's a meaty symposium at the Fowler Museum at UCLA on Saturday: TEDx L.A. Miracle Mile: Food and Food Systems in the 21st Century.

According to the TED website, TEDx events are fully independent of TED in terms of organization and planning. But they are “designed to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level.” Judging by Saturday's lineup (after the jump), it's going to be quite a TED-like experience. If you're interested in attending, we recommend advance tickets, as the Fowler Museum auditorium is a tightly edited space.

Produce at the Santa Monica farmers market; Credit: JGarbee

Produce at the Santa Monica farmers market; Credit: JGarbee

As a press release summarizes, “'Food and Food Systems in the 21st Century' intends to suspend political and ideological platforms to examine what is becoming obsolete, what is current and what is possible on both a community and global scale.” As our global population continues to balloon, how farmers plant their potatoes and what they plant (organic? genetically modified? subsidized?) — and whose russets we decide to purchase — will have a very real impact on our dining tables in the coming years, both locally and globally.

It's a broad topic, and one we've heard before. But with California's extensive economic ties to agricultural and other food industries, as well as L.A.'s far-reaching public influence via television and other industries, it's one we hope to see covered more here.

Speakers include farmers and ranchers, environmentalists, biologists and local community-food advocates including Laura Avery of the Santa Monica Farmers' Market and Silver Lake Farm's Tara Kolla. But visiting London biologist John Marshall wins the award for the best lecture title teaser: “If Mother Teresa Was a Genetic Engineer…”


“Synthetic Urban Ecologies” by Jason Kelly Johnson and Nataly Gattegno of San Francisco's Future Cities Labs

“Using Applied Ecology to Manage Nutrients Locally” by John Todd of John Todd Ecological Design

“If Mother Teresa Was a Genetic Engineer…” by John Marshall, a mathematical biologist and journalist currently studying malaria and genetically modified mosquitoes at Imperial College, London

“Urban Farming in Los Angeles: How to Make it Work” by Silver Lake Farms' Tara Kolla

“The Cost of Quality” by Ken and Kathy Lindner, sustainable grass-fed bison ranchers

“How to Grow a Healthy Being” by Valerie Delahaye, owner of a visual effects studio, who founded snacksandlunch.com to help parents make better choices for their kids.

“Farmers Markets as Food Distribution Hubs” by Laura Avery, Santa Monica Farmers Market manager.

“Eating the Way We Farm (and Farming the Way We Eat)” by Nicolette Hahn Niman, a lawyer and wife of Niman Ranch founder Bill Niman.

TEDx L.A., Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Fowler Museum at UCLA Auditorium, North UCLA campus. $48 Fowler members, seniors and students; $60 general (advance tickets). $70 at the door. Tickets include access to a pre-event mixer, catered box lunch and post-event wine and cheese reception with the speakers.

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