SF Bay Area 2016: Role of Foodie+Tech Culture in an Era of Systemic Racism and Neoliberal Capitalism


This is an update of what I had written a few days ago about the new conference for 2016. 

In May of 2015 I wrote an article that interrogated the role of Foodie+Tech culture within an era of neoliberal capitalism and a racist food system. A surprisingly high number of you privately emailed me to express enthusiasm and appreciation for me having written this article. In addition, having attended quite a few food+tech (or similar) events in the SF Bay area over the last few years, the assumption during most of these events is that we live in a ‘post-racial’ USAmerican [food] system.

For 2016, I have decided that the theme for my next conference will be From Seed to Table[t]: Foodie+Tech Culture in an Era of Systemic Racism and Neoliberal Capitalism (Challenges and Possibilities). I could not be more thrilled! I have also decided to make the big move and host the conference through my consulting company Critical Diversity Solutions(CDS) with the Sistah Vegan Project being a co-organizer and one of the sponsors. Because of the focus of CDS, I think this makes strategic sense; it also opens up the event to my existing Sistah Vegan fan base and new people who have more interest in the basic foundation of CDS. If you missed this year’s April 24-25 2015 conference, learn about how we interrogated the meaning of Black Lives Matter Within Ethical Consumption.

First of all, the date of event will most likely be spring of 2016. I am hoping that I can host the event in an actual physical space. I have my eyes set on Impact Hub Oakland. I envision that the event would be live streamed and recorded; in addition, those who cannot show up in person to give a talk can participate via video-conference. Audience members who cannot show up physically can participate from a tablet, smartphone, computer or dial in via phone.

To get an idea about what the conference will be about, I encourage you to read my article: “FROM SEED TO TABLE[T]: CAN FOODIE-TECH STARTUPS CHANGE A NEOLIBERAL, RACIST, AND CAPITALIST [FOOD] SYSTEM?

What the We Need From You to Make this Conference Possible


If you want to participate as a speaker or have a speaker in mind, please let me know ASAP. Send me an abstract of what you’d like to talk about  if you yourself want to speak. (email: sistahveganconference at gmail dot com)

A Space To Host the Event. 

I would love to have this event take place in Oakland at the Impact Hub Location. I think it would be perfect. If you have ever visited this space, you would probably agree that it’s an amazing co-working space that is very conscious around racial power dynamics, diversity, ethical consumption, and technology challenges+innovations. I have never organized a conference for a physical location and am seeking a volunteer to help me with this.

Poster Design.

I would like to work with a designer to create a captivating poster design for this event. Would anyone be willing to do this pro-bono?


I am seeking sponsorship and have been told to start early. I need help with finding sponsors. Those that come to mind are

  1. Food+Tech Connect
  2. Food First
  3. Impossible Foods
  4. Civil Eats
  5. Facing Race
  6. Google
  7. Twitter
  8. Pinterest
  9. WordPress
  10. LinkedIn
  11. Hack the Hood
  12. Black Girls Code
  13. Race Forward
  14. Ella Baker Center
  15. People’s Grocery

I am curious to know if organizations or companies that have never publicly spoken about the role of foodie+tech within an era of systemic racism, would support this conference. Who wants to volunteer to get sponsors? 

Is Your Chocolate Slavery-Sourced? This Smartphone App Can Help You Find Out

FEP The Food Empowerment Project (F.E.P.) has been doing groundbreaking food justice work for nearly ten years, addressing environmental justice, human rights, farmworker exploitation, poverty, animal compassion, and racial injustice. Recently, they released an app to guide people towards more ethical chocolate brands. This is what simple app technology fused with social impact for a just food system can look like. Below, F.E.P. explains the current state of chocolate production:

Chocolate is a product of the cacao bean, which grows primarily in the tropical climates of Western Africa, Asia, and Latin America.[1] The cacao bean is more commonly referred to as cocoa, so that is the term that will be used throughout this article. Western African countries, mostly Ghana and the Ivory Coast,[2] supply more than 70% of the world’s cocoa.[1] The cocoa they grow and harvest is sold to a majority of chocolate companies, including the largest in the world.[3]

In recent years, a handful of organizations and journalists have exposed the widespread use of child labor, and in some cases slavery, on cocoa farms in Western Africa.[4][5] Since then, the industry has become increasingly secretive, making it difficult for reporters to not only access farms where human rights violations still occur, but to then disseminate this information to the public. In 2004, the Ivorian First Lady’s entourage allegedly kidnapped and killed a journalist reporting on government corruption in its profitable cocoa industry.[6] In 2010, Ivorian government authorities detained three newspaper journalists after they published an article exposing government corruption in the cocoa sector.[7] The farms of Western Africa supply cocoa to international giants such as Hershey’s, Mars, and Nestlé—revealing the industry’s direct connection to the worst forms of child labor, human trafficking, and slavery.[8]

chocolate_content1The Worst Forms of Child Labor 

In Western Africa, cocoa is a commodity crop grown primarily for export; 60% of the Ivory Coast’s export revenue comes from its cocoa.[9] As the chocolate industry has grown over the years, so has the demand for cheap cocoa. On average, cocoa farmers earn less than $2 per day, an income below the poverty line.[10] As a result, they often resort to the use of child labor to keep their prices competitive.[11]

(Source: Child Labor and Slavery in the Chocolate Industry by Food Empowerment Project.)

Download F.E.P.’s Chocolate List App for iOS or Android below.


CDS Social Impact Techniques and Tools

As part of CDS’s commitment to using social media for social impact around issues of food, diversity, and technology, we have created a weekly series. Our weekly blog series is called CDS Social Impact Techniques and Tools. We designed this to give you tips and resources on how to leverage diversity challenges to create a more just world, as well as opportunities for growth and success. The series will commence by Summer 2015.

CDS is dedicated to serving technology, food, and wellness sectors.  Our professional teammates are experts in strategizing how the social dynamics of gender, sexuality, ability, race, age, ethnicity, and socioeconomic class affect one’s relationship to food, health, wellness, and technology. Our headquarters are based in the San Francisco Bay Area, the capital of the USA’s most revolutionary practices and innovations around food, technology, and wellness. Go here to learn about what we do at CDS.