Paula Daniels, on the Future of Food

Amy Clark
Amy Clark
Jul 12 · 3 min read

Hi, I’m Paula, co-creator & “chief of what’s next” of: Center for Good Food Purchasing. We transform the way public institutions source food.

Hometown: Los Angeles now (from Hawai’i — a registered Native Hawai’ian!)

10 years ago, I said: That the future of food is in the hands of all who consume it. That our planet depends on how we manage food production and distribution — and consumers have true agency in making change.

Today, I say: Same thing, only more so! If consumers in major urban areas followed a sustainable diet in healthy portion sizes, and avoided food waste, we could cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 60 percent.

Something surprising about food: Our global food system produces enough right now to feed everyone on the planet about 2,800 daily calories. The problem? It’s not distributed equitably. Plus, about a third of all food is wasted before it’s consumed.

Product/innovation/trend I can’t stop talking about: Circular economy innovations that take what might have been food waste and create products and processes from that, such as bioplastics other foodstuffs. Even: Growing bugs (on food waste) as animal feed! Better than corn or soy for all kinds of livestock, especially fish.

Early inspiration: At age 8, I wanted to be a doctor. By 12, I wanted to be in the Peace Corps which I realize now was my way of saying, “I want to contribute to improving the world.” (I didn’t know what public policy was at the time.) My mother inspired me to be a changemaker. Her lifelong motto was borrowed from an Amy Gerstler poem: “Self re-invention is everything.”

Advice I’d give to my 15-year old self: Believe this and live it: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” (Eleanor Roosevelt)

On my playlist: How I Built This With Guy Raz. I love the episodes on Warby Parker, WeWork, Spanx, and of course — Ben & Jerry’s. They all show the determination and commitment to vision of each of the founders, pushing ahead against all odds. And each has a story of failure that was not a setback but a learning experience.

Looking ahead, I’m excited to see what: Bren Smith does next — he’s a fellow Ashoka Fellow and founder of GreenWave. His approach to regenerative production in the ocean is a great new frontier.

Next up: Bren, I’m tagging you to tell us about the future of… our aquatic food economy!

You can read Paula’s Ashoka profile here. And/or follow her on Twitter: @PaulaADaniels @Center4GoodFood

A New Game

Ideas for a world in which everyone contributes

Amy Clark

Written by

Amy Clark

A New Game

Ideas for a world in which everyone contributes

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