SXSW 2019: These Panels on the Future of Food Are the Festival's Most Appetizing

Some of the most interesting panels this year examine food and its future.

future salsa

If you’re headed to Austin, Texas for the South by Southwest conference and festival, allow Inverse to make one prediction before before the event kicks off on Friday: Food is going to be big. At the very least, it will be interesting, which is better, anyway.

Some of the most interesting panels this year examine food and its future; how technology is changing everything about it (agriculture to supply chains to Uber Eats); and how food quality is increasingly becoming a barometer for socioeconomics and global warming.

Here’s the short list of every food panel worth attending. Click on the link to read the full description. Click the link to see the date and time of the panel.

You’ll see two Inverse panels amongst them, too.


Food and the Economy:

Solving the Food Desert Dilemma — By now, we’re all familiar with the concept of a food desert; you might live in one. But “social entrepreneurs are finding ways to combat the food-desert dilemma through creative pricing strategies and educational programs that empower residents of these communities to make more wholesome food decisions.” Here’s hoping there is practical advice being offered for community organizers visiting Austin that they can take home, too.

The Future of Food Delivery — It’s a $13 billion industry, and the CEO of By Chloe, the New York-based vegan fast casual chain, and the global head of marketing at for Uber Eats, will talk about how they can “ensure that delivery doesn’t mean poor choices.”

An ad for Fiverr, a gig-economy business.
An ad for Fiverr, a gig-economy business.

PANELISTS WANTED: A Gig Economy-Sourced Panel — An Inverse panel, this panel looks to be a disruptive force amongst the curated panels of SXSW, as we’ll hire Austin members of the gig economy to talk about their jobs. It’s also set to be an interesting pairing with the panel above (“The Future of Food Delivery”) the description of which focuses on the point of view of the customer and business owner and not the person delivering the food.

The Evolving Business of Food

Launching a Food Company to Change the World — “Top plant-based future food companies on how this industry is evolving, along with top lessons when building a food product.” If you’re curious about how a lab-grown burger could ever break through to the mainstream, this is your panel.

Food+City Startup Showcase — With “pitches from 11 innovative startups within the food supply chain.”

The Future of Big Food: What’s at Stake? — How committed is “Big Food” to sustainability, really? This panel promises debate over the topic that one could chew on for days. Also: The rare all-woman SXSW panel.

The Future of Making Food

"Food of the Dystopia" brings together three scientists and food innovators who firmly believe we won't starve.  Moderated by Inverse's Yasmin Tayag.
"Food of the Dystopia" brings together three scientists and food innovators who firmly believe we won't starve.  Moderated by Inverse's Yasmin Tayag.

Food of the Dystopia: Beyond Bugs and Beans — Another Inverse panel, “Food of the Dystopia” brings together three scientists and food innovators who firmly believe we won’t starve. It’s moderated by Yasmin Tayag, senior science editor at Inverse.

Tomorrow’s Perfect Food Narrative — We know that “to win on Instagram, consider the tabletop,” but what’s the bigger story of the food we’re eating, and how does social media influence that narrative?

Broadly, “Food and Society”

How Transparency Will Shape the Food Industry — A literally meaty panel that that asks, “How do we create a future that involves transparent relationships with our food and its producers?”

Cultivating the Next Generation of Food Leaders — Young food activists, unite: “Young farmers lack access to land, young entrepreneurs face massive debt, and young leaders need more support, more research, and more investment.” The future is uncertain but these panel promises hope and inspiration from the next generation.

Revolutionizing Food Safety with Blockchain Tech — When the CDC alerts the public to yet another food recall related to romaine lettuce, it can take weeks to trace the source of the outbreak. But if food was tracked on the blockchain, we could trace the source immediately. Food industry leaders will “discuss how blockchain technology will revolutionize traceability in our global food chain and change the future of food.”

The Future of Food: Aquaculture — 🚨 Food TV celebrity alert:🚨 Andrew Zimmern. The topic? Aquaculture and the controlled growth of food from the water.