The Larta Institute Offers Good News in Hard Times

The Larta Institute Offers Good News in Hard Times

August 20, 2020 Michael R. Dimock

There are fires in all directions of the nine Bay Area counties of northern California and over 370 statewide. All of this in the midst of serious level of Covid-19 infections in our state. This is the scenario I feared as COVID took hold in March and April. The climate crisis exhibits a horrifying growth curve as measured by intensity, frequency and impact of disasters. The earth is calling every person, neighborhood, public jurisdiction and business to awaken and mobilize in support of resilience.

One could become fatalistic and resigned to a continuous decline in our quality of life. I do not. I choose to remain forward thinking and focused on mobilizing action. One way I stay positive is by engaging in dialogue with those thinkers, activists, and entrepreneurs leading compelling work to work to fix our woes.

That is why I joined my friend Rodger Wasson, host of the podcast Farm to Table Talk, to host a series of special podcasts sponsored by the Larta Institute. Larta is a unique nonprofit. Headquartered in Los Angeles, it works to transform ideas into enterprises that feed, fuel and heal the world. The Larta team guides the transition of publicly funded R&D into commercial businesses. They also hold an annual Ag Innovation Showcase that features talks and seminars by cutting-edge entrepreneurs solving food system challenges. The Showcase allows very smart people to attract investment that unleashes needed technologies.

What I really like about Larta is that they support holistic thinking and bring philanthropy, non-profits and government into dialogue with entrepreneurs. The coming showcase, with its theme of “A Call to Action,” will be looking at ways technology can help with three critical issues: climate smart agriculture and the importance of soil health to water and fertilizer use efficiency; the reestablishment of nutrient density in foods, which has been diminished in the last 50 years; and importantly, farm and farmer health.

Technology is extremely important. Yet, how we think about agriculture and its relationship to the natural world is even more important. How we think shapes what technologies will be invented, funded and honed. I will be watching the showcase to identify those folks who reveal deep respect for natural systems and offer methods to work with nature rather than against her. I have already heard this in people we have interviewed.

I will also be listening for references to worker health and safety and how technology can improve the lives of nonindustrial-scale farmers and farmworkers. I was encouraged by Larta’s founder and CEO, Rohit Shukla, who said in our first podcast that the American consumer, what he called “the most pampered in the world,” must come to terms with the fact that we will need to pay more for our food in order to more equitably distribute the wealth.

In 25-minute episodes, Rodger and I have interviewed the Showcase’s featured speakers hailing from several nations. I have been impressed by the creative problem solving, commitment to environmental and social values, to rural communities and the firm belief that even our largest challenges can and will be addressed. This is important to hear when living through a global pandemic and an outbreak of fires that threaten all of California. The world needs good news.

To hear a series of positive stories, you can go to Larta’s podcast page, or click on the podcast icons below. To join Rodger and me at the Ag Innovation Showcase, online August 27 and 28, go to https://www.agshowcase.com.


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