Future Thought Leaders panel discussions

Free and open to the public, this thought-provoking series of multidisciplinary panels present varying viewpoints on sustainable food-related topics, such as the climate benefits of creating carbon-rich soil, the impact of meat production and consumption, strategies for combatting food waste and ways to build a more sustainable seafood system. UCTV videotapes the panel discussions, distributing the broadcast through its networks, with 15 million views and counting!

We are pleased to announce that in 2020 Berry Good Food took 1st place for “High Hopes: Navigating the Crossroads” in the category of Television/Online Video: Service Program at the San Diego Press Club’s “Excellence in Journalism” Awards. In 2019 BGF won 1st and 2nd place for “Using Science + Agriculture + Food + Technology to Build Better Food Systems” (Food Tank summit) and “Climate Change.” In 2018 BGF won 1st place for “Let Food Be Thy Medicine.” In 2017 BGF won 1st place for “Safe Harbor”; and 2nd places for “Food Justice,” “Reimagining Food Waste,” and “Meaty Issues.” BGF also received two San Diego Press Club awards for its podcast “Growing a Food Movement with Jessica Waite” in 2020 and two awards for radio podcasts in collaboration with Joe Vecchio of KFMB – 760AM in 2017 for a total of 12 San Diego Press Club awards to date.

Generation Regeneration

For its 12th Future Thought Leaders panel discussion, “Generation Regeneration: Women Forging Change,” Berry Good Food hosted an all-female panel of leaders in the regenerative agriculture movement working on both sides of the U.S./Mexico border at University of California San Diego.

Read our recap for highlights of the discussion such as the significance of redefining the term regenerative, promoting equitable food systems, embracing traditional sustainable methods, and fostering a mindset focused on the strength of community support. 

“Generation Regeneration” panelists:

At The Water's Edge

For its 11th Future Thought Leaders panel discussion, “At the Water’s Edge: Capturing and Conserving Our Most Precious Resource,” and BGF’s first panel held in Baja, Berry Good Food invited a diverse group of esteemed experts to delve into solutions for water scarcity, climate challenges, and sustainable resource management.

Read our recap for highlights of the discussion such as tilling the earth is not the proper technique to encourage soil health as it releases carbon and compacts the soil which results in the loss of water – on average, we lose 60% of our water due to poor soil treatment. Special thanks to our partner Comitè Provino Baja California, Yolanda Selene Walther-Meade, and Solar Rain Bottled Water Co.

“At The Water’s Edge” panelists:

The Magic of Mushrooms

For its 10th Future Thought Leaders panel discussion, “The Magic of Mushrooms: Revolutionizing the Future of Food, Farming and Medicine,” Berry Good Food led expert panelists in a discussion about the versatility of mushrooms, their scientific applications, their use in plant-based cuisine, and the emerging use of psilocybin in health and trauma care at Coastal Roots Farm in Encinitas, California.

Read our recap for highlights of the discussion such as the mushroom’s absolutely essential function in our ecosystem, its ability to clean toxins from our environment, and its healing properties in a multitude of ways. Special thanks to our panel sponsors Organifi, Om Mushrooms, and The Medicin podcast.

“The Magic of Mushrooms” panelists:

  • Matthew Alvarado: Spiritual healer
  • Ivo Fedak: Owner, Mindful Mushrooms
  • Jan Hall: CEO, M2 Ingredients, Inc.
  • Dr. Mark Kalina: Perlman Clinic
  • Dr. Gordon Saxe: UCSD Center for Integrative Nutrition
  • Danielle Stevenson: Environmental scientist and applied mycologist
  • Chef Davin Waite: The Plot restaurant
  • Michelle Ciccarelli Lerach: Moderator and Founder of Berry Good Food

High Hopes

For its ninth Future Thought Leaders panel discussion, “High Hopes: Navigating the Crossroads,” Berry Good Food hosted eight experts at the University of California San Diego to discuss the increasing use of hemp, both as an agricultural crop and as a medical and recreational tool through its applications as THC and CBD.

Hemp is the strongest natural fiber in the world and can produce crucial resources such as food, rope, clothing, paper, and housing material. The U.S. sales value of hemp-based products is more than $600 million annually and growing.

Read our recap for highlights of the discussion such as navigating the legislative and regulatory minefield, revolutionary medical treatments on the horizon, removing stigma, and other benefits and drawbacks.

“High Hopes” panelists:

Climate Change

For its eighth Future Thought Leaders panel discussion, “Climate Change: What it Means for Our Agriculture and Our Health,” five experts tackled the crisis of climate change and its effects on our agriculture and our health at United Portuguese Hall in Point Loma, San Diego.

Read our recap for highlights of the discussion such as our diet emerging as a major contributor to climate change and how we can fix it, solutions for heading off the heavy use of chemical fertilizers and insecticides, communicating the urgency of curbing climate change to policy makers, and what you can do in your everyday life to create positive and sustainable change.

“Climate Change” panelists:

Let Food Be Thy Medicine

For its seventh Future Thought Leaders panel discussion, “Let Food Be Thy Medicine,” the Berry Good Food Foundation invited six experts from various disciplines to discuss the benefits of alternative medicine and nutritional healing to treat chronic disease and maintain well-being.

Read our recap for highlights of the discussion such as the healing approach of the therapeutic order, tips from an Ayurvedic doctor, the effect of food on our gene expression, and the importance of digestion.

“Let Food Be Thy Medicine” panelists:

Behind "Farm to Table"

For its sixth Future Thought Leaders panel discussion, “Behind ‘Farm to Table’: The Labor of Farming,” nine panelists joined us at Kitchens for Good to discuss the challenges of farming, including access to land and capital, regulatory changes, technological advances, and attracting a younger generation.

Read our recap to hear the highlights of the discussion and learn what you can do to support the farming community in San Diego. Go wine tasting, attend a farm dinner, find your local farmers’ market, give a farmer free marketing, and more.

“Behind ‘Farm to Table'” panelists:

Food Justice

The Future Thought Leaders panel discussions of 2017 kicked off on April 21st at Oceanside’s Star Theatre. Labor leader Dolores Huerta and Food Democracy Now! founder Dave Murphy were among the distinguished panelists who weighed in on access to affordable and nutritious food at all economic levels.

Read our recap to learn about how you can help the food-insecure community in San Diego. People in need of an adequate supply of food are not just the homeless, but single mothers, children, military personnel, and the elderly.

“Food Justice” panelists:

Safe Harbor

The fourth and final multidisciplinary panel discussion presented in 2016 by the BGFF, Safe Harbor (Sustainable Seafood: Myths, Truths & Misinformation) took place on November 16th at United Portuguese Hall on Point Loma. In collaboration with the San Diego Bay Wine + Food Festival, the panel of scientists and fishmongers included celebrity chef Rick Moonen, an early pioneer of sustainable seafood. Local chefs Davin Waite and Isabel Cruz prepared several dishes using a giant opah from Catalina Offshore Products alongside some delicious vegan options for the crowd.

Read our recap to learn about the state of our oceans and how we can make the best choices both at the market and in restaurants.

Read about the scholarships we presented to three local fishermen in collaboration with the San Diego Bay Wine + Food Festival.

“Safe Harbor” panelists:

Reimagining Food Waste

The third of four multidisciplinary panel discussions presented in 2016 by the BGFF, Reimagining Food Waste took place on August 23rd at the Joe and Vi Jacobs Center. Cooks-in-training at Kitchens for Good teamed up with local restaurant chefs to prepare a delicious feast for attendees made from ingredients that are often thrown out, like carrot tops and day-old bread.

Read our recap to learn several tips on how you can help reduce food waste in your own home and community.

“Reimagining Food Waste” panelists:

  • Sarah Boltwala-Mesina: Founder & Director of Inika Small Earth, whose latest project includes Food2Soil, a co-operative effort between local restaurants and community gardens to manage food waste responsibly and resourcefully
  • Heather Dane: Health coach, co-author with Louise Hay of The Bone Broth Secret and Radio Show Host on Hay House Radio
  • Kevin G. Davis: Clean tech investor and pioneer; principal in San Diego-based GreenCore Capital and Advisor to
  • Jennifer Gilmore: Executive Director at, former Executive Director of and 2013 recipient of the Tribute to Women in Industry (TWIN) Visionary Award for her contribution to hunger relief in San Diego
  • Maria Hesse: Personal chef, food waste educator, freelance writer, and author of The Intentionalist Cooks!
  • Ylfa Muindi: Educational Program Manager at 1to1 Movement, whose programming includes Achieving Waste Awareness with Youth (AWAY) and the Stacked mobile classroom
  • Anita Raj, PhD: Professor of Medicine & Global Health and Founding Director of the Center on Gender Equity and Health at UC San Diego
  • Noel Stehly: Organic Farmer, rancher and co-owner of Stehly Farms Organics, Stehly Ranch and Stehly Farms Market
  • Allie Tarantino: Dispatcher at Specialty Produce; creator of Waste Not SD, a collaborative effort between Specialty Produce, its restaurant partners, and the San Diego Food Bank
  • Chris Young: Founder of Closing the Loop, which recently acquired Recon Recycling, a zero-waste recycling solution for homes and businesses from which animal feed, energy and raw materials for business manufacturing is produced
  • Michelle Ciccarelli Lerach: Moderator and Founder of the Berry Good Food Foundation

Meaty Issues

The second of four multidisciplinary panel discussions presented in 2016 by the BGFF, Meaty Issues, Meat Friend or Foe? took place on May 17th at the Scripps Research Institute Auditorium. Panelists (listed in detail below) included vegans, omnivores, researchers, a cardiologist, a nutritionist, and a rancher. The discussion was divided into four sections: environment, animal welfare, human health, and technology.

Major takeaways of the discussion: Americans consume more meat on a daily basis than is healthy for them or the environment, understanding the dangers of having high levels of antibiotics in our meat, the environmental repercussions of meat production that require immediate action, and suggestions for what we as consumers can do to improve the situation.

Click the links on the right to watch video of the panel discussion on YouTube, listen to it on SoundCloud, or read the re-cap on the BGFF blog.

“Meaty Issues” panelists:

Soil Matters

The first of four multidisciplinary panel discussions presented in 2016 by the BGFF, “Soil Matters: Climate Change’s Hottest Topic” took place on February 2nd at the University of California, San Diego. The video is currently ranked in the top 20 most-watched UCTV uploads with more than 87,000 views, and trended as a “top tweet” for UCTV on Twitter. The discussion is also highlighted on its new UC Climate Solutions Channel.

Panelists included organic farmers, scientists, food advocates, and a sustainable retailer. The major takeaway? Creating carbon-rich soil can have a big impact on climate change. We need to embrace “carbon farming” or “regenerative agriculture,” which absorbs carbon from the atmosphere and puts it back in the ground where it belongs. This was the natural balance of the ecosystem before conventional agriculture distorted it with invasive practices.

Click the links on the right to watch video of the panel discussion on YouTube, listen to it on SoundCloud, or read the re-cap on the BGFF blog.

“Soil Matters” panelists:

  • David Bronner: CEO of Dr. Bronner’s organic personal care products
  • Ryland Engelhart: Co-founder of Kiss the Ground
  • Scott Murray: Organic farmer and board president of the Mission Resource Conservation District
  • Calla Rose Ostrander: Climate change advisor, the Jena and Michael King Foundation
  • Dr. Justine Owen: Soil scientist at University of California, Berkeley
  • Dr. Keith Pezzoli: Director of Urban Studies and Planning, UC San Diego
  • Pablo Rojas: Rancher and livestock manager at Rancho el Mogor in Baja, Mexico
  • Kara Wentworth: Doctoral candidate in Communication and Science Studies at UC San Diego
  • Michelle Ciccarelli Lerach: Moderator and Founder of the Berry Good Food Foundation