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How LA's Restaurant Industry Would Change the World Through Food

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How would you change the world through food? Local experts weigh in.

Matthew Kang is the Lead Editor of Eater LA. He has covered dining, restaurants, food culture, and nightlife in Los Angeles since 2008. He's the host of K-Town, a YouTube series covering Korean food in America, and has been featured in Netflix's Street Food show.

To mark the relaunch of Eater today, the Features team compiled a collection of seventy-two of the best ideas for how people around the world are or how they plan to or how they want to change the world through food. A lot of the ideas are incredibly earnest. Some are ambitious beyond reason. But what they all have in common is a belief that, with hard work and good food, the world is headed in the right direction.

As a local component to this feature, we asked the Los Angeles community to chime in. So check out the national responses over here and scroll below to see what local thinkers and doers would like to do to change the world through food. Have a suggestion? Add it to the comments.

Jason Kessler, food writer and creator of Fly & Dine: I'd turn sugar into the villain that it is. If we could somehow reverse our dependence on sugar in almost everything we eat, we could eliminate or reduce an astounding amount of health problems not only here in America but around the world. Less sugar in our food means a healthier world for everyone

Farley Elliott, Eater LA contributor: I think positive change in the world's food system will come from equality, at all levels. That means equality of pay (no more tomato-picking wage slavery in Florida), equality of access, equality of price, equality of culture and equality of quality itself. Let's treat animal protein like the luxury it is, not the daily decadence we allow it to be. Let's let the hardest working among us earn a livable wage, and provide avenues to quality ingredients for those less fortunate. That all comes from being more conscientious, voting with your dollar and caring about agricultural legislation -- heady stuff, but certainly not impossible.

Tony Yanow at Mohawk Bend. [Photo: Elizabeth Daniels]

Tony Yanow, owner of Golden Road Brewing, Tony's Darts Away, and Mohawk Bend: At Tony's Darts Away, Golden Road Pub, and Mohawk Bend we have very similar philosophies on the food we buy and the food we serve.  Basically we think about three things, where each affects our patrons, our team and our community at large: Nourishment. Comfort. Excitement.  

Matthew Kaner, of Bar Covell: Food is community, so I'd like to challenge everyone around the world to look past cultural, religion, or racial differences and focus at the common act of eating as a tie that binds. Facts not judgements will get us there!

Simon Majumdar, Food Network personality: I'd pass an edict that all peace negotiations have to take place during a multi dish family style meal to be prepared by grandmothers from the relevant nations.

Not only is it hard to argue with someone when you have a mouthful of food, the dear old ladies would probably keep slapping some sense into the A-hole politicians until they came to an agreement.

Komodo Venice. [Photo: Elizabeth Daniels]

Erwin Tjahyadi, chef of Komodo Food: There should be a mandatory requirement for proficiency in food preparation, background and cooking within the standard high school curriculum. 

If every high school student graduates with a sufficient understanding of cooking and food education, the world would be a much more delicious place to live.

Additionally, placing food education at the same level of importance as Math or Science may be the first step to correcting the constant issues of undervalued culinary professions.

Elina Shatkin, Senior Editor at Los Angeles Magazine: Access. Make sure that all people have access to nourishing, clean, healthy food and the means to keep growing or purchasing it. We can argue about where to find the best xiao long bao or paella or pulled pork but unless and until we can feed people, all of that is kind of meaningless. Also, I would eliminate flavored coffee; it's the work of the devil.

Krista Simmons, Food Editor at Laist: I feel that the future of food is in independence, education, and equity. I would rip out all of the life-sucking lawns and golf courses, then seed bomb the heck out of them, especially the giant patches of useless grass in front of official public buildings. City hall and courthouse facades would be covered with Woolly Pockets. Sidewalks and street medians would be a place for fruit trees and vining veg. All of that food would be grown and maintained by the public - empowered by master gardeners and community educators - providing good, clean, fair produce for everyone. Then I'd covert swimming pools into fully sustainable ecosystems, complete with tilapia ponds and chicken coops. Sayonara, draught. Adios, food deserts. Say hello to the food system of the future!

H.C. So, Blogger at HC's Foodventures: I don't know about the entire world, but for people in developed nations (and especially those who have resorted to dine-outs, take-outs, and cooking out of a box), I would like to teach "kitchen confidence." By enabling people with a few basic food prep and cooking skills, they can easily prepare meals that are quick, easy, economical, nutritious, and delicious; it's also a great stepping stone for them to learn more advanced techniques and sophisticated recipes. And by encouraging folks to cook, they also get more engaged with the foods they eat and when they do eat out, they'll have a better understanding and appreciation for what they're ordering.

Josh Lurie, Founder of FoodGPS: Of course making high-quality, nutritious ingredients available and affordable is obvious, but to make the world a better place, let's start with a more realistic goal: doing away with competitive eating. Glorifying gluttony makes a mockery of our global food system. Eating competitions cause people who have food to take it for granted. They also flaunt food in the faces of people who are struggling. Beyond that, these "battles" are absolutely horrific to witness and inevitably shave years off the lives of competitors, "win" or "lose."

Stacey Sun, Director of DineLA: I grew up having dinner with my family every night. Sometimes it was forced family fun, but it was mostly the one time each day when we were able to catch up. Whether a member of the family cooks or not, it's important for every family, however you define that, to take time and have a quality meal together, which encourages dialogue and helps equate food with community.

Jeff Miller, Senior Editor of Thrillist LA: If I could change the world through food, I'd pool together enough money so that scientists could recreate every single kind of meat as synthetic, plant-based proteins that taste exactly perfect, because there's no way I'm giving up bacon unless the fake stuff tastes perfect, even if I feel bad every time I see a cute pig video on the internet.

Zach Brooks, Founder of Midtown Lunch and Food is the New Rock: I would develop a way for all the best San Gabriel Valley dim sum places to serve all their food from carts, but still maintain whatever quality and financial benefits they seem to think they get from forcing you to order off a menu.  IT SHOULDN'T BE THAT HARD!

David A. Bernahl, founder of Coastal Luxury Management: I would start every diplomatic summit with a meal consisting of Thomas Keller's pearls and oysters, Richard Reddington's pork buns, Jason Neroni's carbonara, Grant Achatz's supreme de pigeonneaux, Charles Phan's shaking beef, Michael Laiskonis's "egg," and Nancy Silverton's butterscotch budino... This would solve many of the world's problems.

Nguyen Tran. [Photo: Elizabeth Daniels]

Nguyen Tran, Founder of Starry Kitchen: A friend once told me he thought world peace could happen through fried chicken... and I happen to agree with that.  I'd love to travel dressed up as the Asian "Colonel" with an entourage of fried chicken "bucket babes", an ice cold black cherry soda (Dublin Dr. Pepper anyone?) and an awesome piece of cake for everyone to enjoy— and hopefully peace, hilarity, and food comas would ensue. After that, I'd probably take hilarious Instragram picturess of people during their food comas in some amazing fried chicken poses to further spread the love throughout the world— is that the wrong answer?

Max Sharpiro, founder and chef of Oxalis: In the grand scheme of things, I can't change much with what I am doing. What I can do is cook responsibly, honestly, let nature do the teaching and at the end of a meal make sure that my food was light enough for the diners to still wanna make sexy time.

Cathy Chaplin, founder of Gastronomy Blog: Food has the power to bring people of different cultures together and increase their understanding of one another, which ultimately leads to a better, brighter world.

Stephane Bombet, Founder of Bombet Hospitality Group: I would make it illegal to feed kids processed food at school. Education is the key. Less kids would get sick and obese and more kids would live a happy life.  It would change their world