Rachel Laudan Announced as 2018 Paradigm Award Winner

Food Historian and Award-Winning Writer to Accept Award at the Breakthrough Dialogue


January 3, 2018 |

The Breakthrough Institute has named Rachel Laudan as the recipient of the 2018 Breakthrough Paradigm Award. Dr. Laudan will accept the award on stage at the annual Breakthrough Dialogue  taking place this June in Sausalito, California.  

The Paradigm Award recognizes accomplishment and leadership in the effort to make the future secure, free, prosperous, and fulfilling for all the world’s inhabitants on an ecologically vibrant planet. Past recipients of the award include Mark Lynas, Emma Marris, Jesse Ausubel, Ruth DeFries, David MacKay, and Calestous Juma.

Dr. Laudan is a widely published author on food and farming, most prominently her 2013 book Cuisine and Empire and 2015 essay “A Plea for Culinary Modernism: Why We Should Love Fast, New, Processed Food.” She has had faculty appointments at the University of Hawaii, Virginia Tech, and Carnegie Mellon, and is currently a Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin. Her writing has been published by the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, Smithsonian Journeys, and other major outlets. She describes herself as "an unabashed, though not uncritical enthusiast about modern food.”

Laudan was chosen as a Paradigm Award recipient in recognition of the progressive story she tells about food and farming. In a subject understandably fraught with concerns over safety, justice, identity, and competing scientific perspectives, Lauden celebrates technological, industrial, “artificial” food.

So it is with great anticipation that we welcome Dr. Laudan to share her perspective on food, culture, and modernity at this year’s Breakthrough Dialogue.  The theme of the 2018 Dialogue is Rising Tides. Like so much else in the 21st century, a dietary transition is sweeping through the global population, bringing improved health, nutrition, and food security but also increasing pressures on the environment and new health problems. That shift is inseparable from the broader agrarian transition, which has brought rising prosperity, social mobility, and opportunity for women and children along with new forms of economic inequality and social dislocation. At a moment when discussions of food and agriculture have been overwhelmingly focused on the problems with modern food systems, Laudan reminds us of all that has been gained in the transition to modern diets. To read more of her work, visit her website.

For media inquiries contact: Alex Trembath at alex@thebreakthrough.org


The Breakthrough Paradigm Award is presented annually at the Breakthrough Dialogue. The award honors those individuals whose work is accelerating the transition to a future where all the world's inhabitants can enjoy secure, free, prosperous, and fulfilling lives on an ecologically vibrant planet.


Past Winners

Calestous Juma, 2017


David MacKay, 2016


Ruth DeFries, 2015


Jesse Ausubel, 2014


Emma Marris, 2013


Mark Lynas, 2012