I walked into the LA+Acumen and Net Impact LA sustainable food dinner at Casamor Farm a week ago feeling like I had just stepped into Narnia through the back of a wardrobe. Where was I?! Is this still LA?! Lofty sunflowers towered in the front yard and around back, behind a sprawling house, bright green plants shot up toward the sun. No vibe of “LA: the second biggest city in the country” here.
This event was a joint offering from the local chapters of two national social impact organizations. The first, Acumen, raises money to invest in individuals ending poverty around the world. The second, Net Impact, is a community of students and professionals dedicated to positive social change. When my local chapters announced a dinner and discussion on sustainable food, I knew I had to go.
Casamor Farm, the event location, is a new urban farm on a residential property near Culver City (in Mar Vista). The farm was created a few months ago and between then and now the main gardeners planted, tended, and harvested tons of vegetables and herbs. The gardeners live in the house on the property and rent the remaining rooms in the house as short-term vacation rentals.
The farm has become a popular locale for dinners because of the three large tables and mismatched chairs set up under the branches of a towering tree adorned with soft white lights. A beautiful spot. AND, we drank wine out of mason jars. Does this sound like LA? No!
Our talented chef for the evening was Loghan Call of Planted Cuisine. Loghan specializes in delicious vegetarian dishes that highlight the flavor and uniqueness of local farms as a means to connect eaters back to their dinner. Much of the produce we ate was from Casamor Farm and was picked earlier that day!
Prior to attending this dinner, the organizers sent out articles on sustainable food as a starting point for discussion. Wow! Homework for a dinner? As someone who reads a plethora of articles on the food system anyway, I loved it.
This assignment, it turns out, really set the stage for an intellectual discussion. Once everyone sat down with heaping plates of food, the event organizer at each table facilitated the discussion.
My tablemates and I shared our observations, questions, viewpoints, and experiences of food.
I deeply appreciated everyone’s openness and honesty as we wrestled with questions of how to integrate eating “right” (and what that means) into our current lives in a balanced way.
No easy answers here.
Of course we didn’t solve any of the food system’s major problems this night. Realistically, can we say we changed the world? Probably not. But we created a community of support and trust around this topic while sharing a meal. And it felt really good.
So thanks, LA+Acumen, Net Impact, Casamor Farm, and Planted Cuisine. Events like this matter because promoting awareness and initiating conversations are a crucial early step toward mainstream change. Let’s find ways to transport ourselves to settings like this and have these conversations more often.