On “Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg,” Jacob Pechenik—a former Hollywood producer and co-founder of The Farm Project and Lettuce Grow—talks about the roles celebrities can play in creating a better food system for everyone. “We need to deliver a really important message in a bite-sized portion in a really entertaining way,” says Pechenik. “We can make [growing food] fun and accessible, not doom and gloom. People need to feel positive about what they’re doing.”
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Partnering with his wife Zooey Deschanel, Pechenik started The Farm Project which uses media and technology to educate people about where their food is grown—and empowers people to start asking questions about how food affects the world. “If consumers start asking questions about where their food comes from, all of a sudden our food is going to change for the better,” says Pechenik.
Pechenik and Deschanel also started Lettuce Grow, a start-up, subscription-based company that helps home-growers grow their own produce with modern, vertical stands; hydroponic technology; and bi-weekly seedlings grown on local farms—including Pachenik and Deschanel’s Agua Dulce farm in Austin, TX. “Behind the scenes, we’re really changing how food is grown and delivered. By growing seedlings for just two to three weeks, we can grow 100 times more plants per square foot in the same amount of time,” says Pechenik.
“By doing that, we’re taking real estate and transportation out of the equation. So we’re taking 95 percent of the transportation emissions out of the equation as well… it’s also virtually erasing [food chain related] waste,” says Pechenik. The Lettuce Grow structure—made out of plastic from the ocean—grows produce that would normally require 45 square feet to grow: in just nine square feet. To support home-growers, Lettuce Grow operates a hotline for people to call in and get advice about environmentally-friendly watering and pest control techniques. “I try to take the technology out of the food and instead build the technology around the food,” says Pechenik.
Photo courtesy of Laura Hajar/Lettuce Grow.