Big Ideas, Grand Challenges - The Future of Food Production

Big Ideas, Grand Challenges Future of Food Production Banner


Presented Virtually on Wednesday, January 26, 2022

6:00pm - 7:00pm

Discussion will be 6:00 - 6:45pm, followed by 15 minutes of Q&A

Topics to be discussed may include:

  • The effect of climate change on producing food at local and global levels
  • What food production will look like in 20-30 years
  • The role of technology in advancing food production
  • The best ways to deal with food waste in the future

RECORDING: The Future of Food Production



Headshot of Laurel Bellante, Ph.D.

Laurel Bellante, Ph.D.

Dr. Bellante is a human-environment geographer specializing in food justice, global environmental change, and sustainable food systems in both the United States and Mexico. She is an assistant professor of practice and director of Food Studies in the School of Geography, Development, and Environment, as well as the assistant director of the Center for Regional Food Studies at the University of Arizona. She uses a political ecology approach to connect what is happening in people’s kitchens, farms, and communities to larger political economic and environmental changes occurring regionally, nationally, and globally. She has researched farmer vulnerability and organizing in southern Mexico, alternative food networks throughout the Americas, poverty and climate change in the Southwestern U.S., carbon forestry programs in Latin America, and food security and food justice in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. Her ongoing research projects focus on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in the regional food system of southern Arizona, building resilience in local food systems, and the strengths and challenges of agro-ecological farming networks in Chiapas, Mexico.

headshot of Viraj Puri

Viraj Puri

Mr. Puri co-founded Gotham Greens in 2009 after leading start-up enterprises in the United States, India and Malawi focused on sustainable agriculture, green building, renewable energy and environmental design. He has been awarded fellowships from TED, Wild Gift and the Environmental Leadership Program and recognized as one of the “100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs of 2020” by Goldman Sachs and Crain’s NY Business “40 under 40” list. His work has been published in several books and journals, including “Innovation on Tap,” “100% Renewable: Energy Autonomy in Action” and the UN Academic Journal. Viraj is a LEED® Accredited Professional and earned a bachelor’s degree from Colgate University.

Dionne Washington, MBA

Ms. Washington co-founded Project Roots, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in Phoenix, AZ, in late 2019. An entrepreneur and WNBA agent, Ms. Washington and her co-founder started Project Roots with two rows of tomato plants, which were made into soup that fed over 1000 people within their first year. In the next year, Project Roots distributed 12,000 pounds of produce to those experiencing food insecurity. The organization focuses on ways to educate the community about growing their own food through various educational programs. They also support the homeless and those with food insecurities by feeding them from their local community gardens and mobile kitchen service, supplying hygiene items, clothing and shelter. Project Roots AZ offers seasonal produce bag delivery services in certain parts of the Phoenix area and can be found at the Farmers Markets throughout the valley. Project Roots nourishes and educates communities in need by promoting a healthier, natural, and more sustainable way of urban living.

Photo credit: Eric Elmore Photography