Larissa Zimberoff and Matt Seeley Give a Glance at Upcoming OPS Keynote
MONTEREY, CA - Larissa Zimberoff, whose voice has contributed to noteworthy periodicals—such as Time magazine, Bloomberg/Businessweek, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and more—and who has recently published a novel lifting the veil on how technology’s rapid advancements are sweeping the food sector up with it—will take the stage at the 2021 Organic Produce Summit (OPS).
“Everyone wants to talk about how the climate is in danger; our planet is in danger; these are valid points and worthy causes. But pivoting a complete 180 degrees to technologically driven food is not the only answer,” Larissa shared with me as we discussed the inspiration behind her book Technically Food: Inside Silicon Valley’s Mission to Change What We Eat. “I want to make sure that we see other answers rather than just buy into the technology solution as the only option.”
In agreement is Matt Seeley, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Organic Produce Network, who was recommended Larissa’s book when discussing possible keynote speakers with active OPS participant Frances Dillard of Driscoll’s.
“I wound up downloading Technically Food and read it that weekend, immediately seeing how it would be a win for our audience to hear from an investigative journalist where the future of our food industry is going,” Matt said. “One of the things we pride ourselves on at OPS is our education program and its coverage of topical subject matters with strong speakers. This was the perfect fit on new foods being heavily funded by highly capitalized companies. Larissa provides great information on possible new food and technology impacts on our segment of the industry.”
Technology, Larissa shared, offers ways to do things better, something we have certainly seen and discussed deeply amid labor shortages and more intuitive logistics. Clean water, repetitive tasks, soil health—these are the areas Larissa shares are a great fit for technology, but each venture needs a balance with the natural world. Organic produce, she said with interest, continues to hold its own, and she is excited to learn more about how these two spheres are overlapping.
“Already the technology world has grown rapidly, and then the pandemic sped several things up. It will be nice to talk to the organic community to see what changed or accelerated for them. We know how it shifted the supermarkets, how it shifted online grocery shopping, delivery, food delivery, restaurant take out, so how did it impact the organic sector?” she mused.
Larissa observed how the food tech world hit a phenomenal fast track of growth, with a bombardment of startups and funding raising 250 and 350 million dollars apiece. She pointed out that organic should translate into a similar success story for its good business and good impact on the planet and people.
“There are things that organics can do, and be the first to do so, that could be really interesting. I think they have a chance to think horizontally where many are thinking vertically, and it would be great to see technology used to make that happen without competing against it,” Larissa said. “Technology can aid the organic community, if only the investors saw organics as the place to put their money.”
I, for one, cannot wait to hear from her when OPS takes place next month. If you are not yet registered, click here and begin counting down with us to the show’s return to Monterey, California, September 15–16.