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Roy Choi Talks Food Justice At MAD Symposium
There's no doubt that the issue of hunger is one that really hits home here in America. Whereas a few years ago, people may have thought this was a problem that only impacted developing countries, it's increasingly become a homegrown concern. Food activists and entrepreneurs are trying to concoct ideas to attack the problem from all corners, from guerilla gardeners planting parkway gardens to former Trader Joe's execs starting up expired food markets.
At this year's MAD Food Symposium in Denmark, which is basically like the G20 Summit of the food world, L.A. street chef Roy Choi attempted to inspire chefs with a TED-like talk on food access.
Choi pointed out that in South Los Angeles there are literally no chef driven restaurants or farmers markets, but lots of liquor stores and fast food joints. He wants to inspire chefs to grow some balls, go into these areas, and bring affordable food to the less fortunate.
His hopes are that his efforts, like this 3 World Cafe in South L.A., might help some of the 5 million people in California that go hungry.
Says Choi, "Aren't we still feeding the same people? The privileged? There's nothing wrong with the fact that we can afford it, but aren't we just feeding the people who can afford it?"
What if chefs insisted that every time an investor proposed a project, they insisted that there was a restaurant built in lower income neighborhoods or food deserts.
He continues, "In the ghettos of America, we feed our children corrosive, chemical waste. And I don't know, as chefs, how do you feel about that? I've made my decisions, but I'm just one dude."
He helped kids at Jefferson High create their own little juice and smoothie stand in the middle of one of the worst food deserts in the country. And the hope is that after his moment in front of some of the world's most influential chefs, perhaps someone else will be inspired to do the same, and food deserts will soon be a distant memory, just like the idea of the "roach coach."