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The Copernicus Project by Land O'Lakes will challenge perceptions about food at SXSW

We're exploring the intersection of technology, health and food security

The Copernicus Project by Land O'Lakes will challenge perceptions about food at SXSW


AUSTIN, TEXAS (March 8, 2019) — Convening a conversation about the modern food system, Land O’Lakes, Inc. has created The Copernicus Project -- an immersive, interactive experience that is part of South by Southwest (SXSW) and runs March 8-10 at 311 E. Fifth Street (at Trinity Street), adjacent to the Austin Convention Center. Named in honor of Nicolaus Copernicus, who cracked the foundations of contemporary science with a helio-centric model of the solar system, The Copernicus Project continues that legacy by challenging long-held beliefs about humans as the center of the modern food system.

Land O’Lakes is hosting a dynamic roster of innovators in academia, media, technology, food, NGOs, and public health to participate in The Copernicus Project, including representatives from Bayer, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Climate Corporation, The Crop Trust, Driscoll’s, Ernst & Young, Food Tank, GENYOUth, The George Washington University, Mayo Clinic, Verizon/Nokia, Orig3n, THRIVE AgTech, The Washington Post and Whole Kids Foundation.

“The future of food is an issue that affects every human being on the planet and is increasingly defined by the intersection of health, technology and food security. Land O’Lakes is committed to convening conversations around these topics to ask tough questions and challenge established preconceptions about our food system,” said Beth Ford, president and chief executive officer, Land O’Lakes. “The Copernicus Project brings consumers and industry stakeholders together to have an open, honest conversation about the future of food and to reexamine our roles and responsibilities in shaping its future.”

Productive, honest, engaging panels
The Copernicus Project hosts three days of conversations and sessions whose participants have diverse viewpoints, including technology gurus, scientists, climate experts, entrepreneurs and nonprofit stakeholders. Here is a rundown of central dialogues and program synopses for each day:

DAY 1: Friday, March 8

Land O’Lakes President and CEO Beth Ford will kick off the three-day slate of programming, in conversation with the head of WP Brandstudio at The Washington Post, Annie Granatstein. Beth and Annie will discuss the responsibility leaders have to drive change and convene thought leaders from varied viewpoints, with a look ahead to three days of programming.

The Future of Society Is On Our Children’s Dinner Plates
Children are our greatest asset, yet the lack of proper nutrition is causing dramatic increases in disease, hampering cognitive function and taxing our health care system. Alexis Glick, CEO of GENYOUth, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving school wellness, will moderate a discussion between health, wellness and youth experts to discuss how to build a healthy, strong society by nurturing children not only through the food they eat but also through the systems that bring food to the table.

DAY 2: Saturday, March 9

Does Artificial Intelligence Belong in Agriculture?
Emmy-award-winning journalist and former CNN host Frank Sesno will moderate a panel of experts to discuss how machine learning, computer vision and AI have made agriculture one of the most tech-forward industries. These experts will examine how this power can be harnessed to feed the world and what the long-term impact of these technologies on our food system is.

Food for Thought
The Washington Post Live will host Food for Thought, a multi-segment program on the future of food, featuring local chefs, restaurant owners, entrepreneurs and food thought leaders -- featuring Top Chef Executive Producer, Padma Lakshmi. The program includes a sponsored segment called “Fact-Checking Food” where Danielle Nierenberg, co-founder of Food Tank, will moderate a panel of participants who will each debunk a different food myth, and will offer opportunities for the audience to interact.

DAY 3: Sunday, March 10

Saving Our Food: A Modern Take on an Ancient Practice
Moderated by Daniel Stone, author of The Food Explorer, this panel will explore the similarities and differences among and between ancient grains and today’s common foods. Audiences will learn about the evolution of food practices, the way food culture has shifted, and the various scientific components that have had impacts on our diet on both macro and micro levels.

THRIVE X Future of Food Innovation Challenge
Entrepreneurs working on solutions in the agrifood sector will share their ideas with esteemed judges, including THRIVE AgTech CEO John Hartnett. A $100,000 grand prize will be awarded to the entrepreneur considered to be making the most significant contribution to the advancement of the future of food and agriculture.

An experiential, interconnected experience
In addition to panel discussions, The Copernicus Project will offer a variety of exhibits that provide unique, unexpected ways for consumers to understand the future of food. The goal of the experience is to challenge long-held beliefs, foster big thinking, and create open, honest dialogue and engagement between consumers and industry stakeholders that lead to new solutions and innovations for the future food system. Here is a sampling of the exhibits at The Copernicus Project:

    • A Measure of Now: An interactive art installation lets guests provide their opinion on different agriculture, health and food issues.
    • The Beautiful Food Web: A sculpture illustrates the interconnectedness of our food system and its effect on human health.
    • The Truth About Biodiversity: An immersive, mesmerizing infographic experience reveals shocking and        empowering facts about biodiversity, agriculture, scarcity and our diets.
    • Us to Dust: Guests take on the role of a nanobot to explore larger-than-life food items and understand how technology is improving their everyday viability to overcome disease, adapt to environmental changes and help farmers do more than ever before.

The Copernicus Project is open starting at noon daily, from Friday, March 8, through Sunday, March 10. For more information, including times of marquee events, visit

Media Contact:Abigail Shilling 651.242.1503

About Land O'Lakes, Inc.
Land O'Lakes, Inc., one of America's premier agribusiness and food companies, is a member-owned cooperative with industry-leading operations that span the spectrum from agricultural production to consumer foods. With 2018 annual sales of $15 billion, Land O'Lakes is one of the nation's largest cooperatives, ranking 216 on the Fortune 500. Building on a legacy of more than 97 years of operation, Land O'Lakes today operates some of the most respected brands in agribusiness and food production including LAND O LAKES® Dairy Foods, Purina Animal Nutrition, WinField® United and Land O’Lakes SUSTAINTM. The company does business in all 50 states and more than 60 countries. Land O'Lakes, Inc. corporate headquarters are located in Arden Hills, Minn.

4001 Lexington Avenue North Arden Hills, MN 55126 | Mailing: P.O. Box 64101 St. Paul, MN 55164-0101 | 651.375.2222