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Future of Food at SXSW: Questlove, Moby, Temple Grandin to speak at four-day event

Addie Broyles
Austin 360
Questlove is among the speakers at a four-day virtual food conference during South by Southwest that is free to watch.

You need a badge to access much of it of this year's digital South by Southwest.

A four-day conference focused on food, however, is open and free to everyone, one silver lining of the pandemic, says organizer Robert Nathan Allen. 

Allen, founder of the food access and entomophagy non profit Little Herds, organized this conference, which originally was going to be in person during SXSW 2020.

After last year's cancellation, Allen and his team decided to postpone the four-day event until this year. He says the delay allowed them to include speakers who might not have been able to travel to Austin for the conference, including several high-profile musicians and speakers, including Questlove, Kari Byron and Moby, and to offer free tickets to anyone who wants to attend. 

Temple Grandin is one of the speakers scheduled for a four-day food conference that is free during South by Southwest. Her session is live; many of the others have been prerecorded.

The Future of Food at SXSW, sponsored by Kroger Co.'s Zero Hunger Zero Waste Foundation, will take place from Thursday to Saturday with more than 75 speakers and 900 minutes of programming. (You can find a full schedule of events and RSVP at futureoffood.idealseat.com/events/FutureFoodSXSW.)

Many of the panels have been pre-recorded, but several sessions, including a keynote from animal husbandry expert (and subject of a 2010 biopic) Temple Grandin, will be presented live.

Panel topics on the schedule include plant-based eating and alternative proteins, upcycling, traceability, diversity in agriculture and CPG. The panelists include the musician Moby, who is an animal rights activist, Kari Byron, host of Crash Test World and formerly of MythBusters, Danielle Nierenberg of the Food Tank and local folks, including Joi Chevalier of the Cook’s Nook, Mohammed Ashour of Aspire Food Group, Kirstin Ross of SKU, and Edwin Marty with the City of Austin's sustainability office.

To complement the online experience, Little Herds has teamed up with food delivery service the Green Pantry to create a Future of Food CPG box ($100) that includes 25 Austin consumer packaged goods brands, including Fairseed, HiFi Mycology, Neo Bites, Perennial Pecan, Richard's Rainwater, The Sourdough Company and Stroop Club. 

Anyone can order the box throughout the week, and those orders will be shipped as they are received. (You had to order by Monday to receive on Thursday.)

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Event organizers have teamed up with Sour Duck to offer a Future of Food Family Feast ($100), a takeout meal for four people that includes a whole roasted chicken from Austin's Westfold Farm that was raised mostly on the insects raised by Enviroflight, one of the companies featured at the digital conference. Side dishes include seaweed from Atlantic Sea Farms and chapulines from Merci Mercado.

A portion of the proceeds from both the Future of Food CPG box and the feast from Sour Duck will go to emergency food access initiatives that support people in Central Texas, Allen says. 

Our full coverage of SXSW is only possible thanks to Statesman subscribers. If you're not already a subscriber, become one today at statesman.com/subscribenow. New subscribers get a year of digital access at an introductory rate of $39 through March 18.