The Food Effect Building Exterior At South By Southwest in Austin, Texas

Why Land O'Lakes showed up at SXSW. And stole the show

A partnership with National Geographic, Microsoft (and others) is telling the story of feeding human progress through food and technology

If you weren't in Austin, Texas this week, you missed one of the most provocative and eye-opening convergences of creativity and discovery known as South by Southwest (SXSW: we explain more about what that is here).

Land O’Lakes, Inc. was there -- and grabbed the attention of more than 8,000 attendees that came through the doors of The Food Effect. This effort, an interactive experience with panel discussions, aimed to spark an engaging and healthy dialogue around food, agriculture and technology. To bridge the gap between farm fields and family tables. To have a little fun, but to share with an influential audience the important intersection of food, ag and technology and what we -- and our farmers -- are doing to help feed the world.

We didn't just grab front-page attention with a giant head of interactive lettuce; we showed how technology is revolutionizing the farming landscape. People didn't just stop in their tracks when they saw half a car covered in dirt in the middle of our space; they learned how soil could be the key to fighting climate change. Visitors didn't just pick up a phone on a wall out of curiosity; they listened to heart-wrenching, personal stories about how food insecurity in America is one of the most profound and complicated problems our society faces.

Land O'Lakes, Inc.'s The Food Effect Panel At South By Southwest

And the list goes on. (And on.)

We’ve started this profound conversation about the convergence between food, modern agriculture and technology because our planet depends on it.

"Food is a basic human right. It’s essential to political stability. It’s essential to our future. This discussion is central to everything," Chris Policinski, President and CEO of Land O’Lakes, Inc. said.

[Also: Experience The Food Effect's interactive website. Producing the food we eat is as intertwined as the lives we live. And we’re each at the center of the solution.]

The challenges we face today are daunting, to be sure -- but you won’t find Land O’Lakes, Inc. and its unique farmer-owned cooperative structure waiting in the wings. Quite the opposite. Together we feed human progress every day by meeting these challenges head-on and changing perceptions about what the future of agriculture looks like (and what farmers need to be successful).

A Woman Approaching The Giant Head Of Lettuce At South By Southwest's The Food Effect

“If you know what we do and that we lean so heavily into technology, SXSW is really the perfect place to tell our story,” said Tim Scott, Land O’Lakes chief marketing officer told Adweek.

Dreamers and doers. Academics and activists. Scientists and farmers. We need all of these perspectives. By challenging our assumptions and working together, we believe we can change the way we all think about farming and, in doing so, solve some of the world’s most pressing problems.

We can’t wait to share more about our experience and the rich content and partners that helped bring it to life. Here's a quick rundown of our interactive exhibits:

Giant Head Of Lettuce At South By Southwest's The Food Effect

What’s in the Box: Virtual reality provides a front-row seat to experience innovative farming techniques in action — inside a giant head of lettuce.

Giant DNA Helix At The Food Effect At South By Southwest

Gene Editor: Is it okay to hack our food? A larger-than-life DNA strand illustrates the potential of science to feed more people — and even save industries and lives.

Carbon Capture Exhibit At South By Southwest's The Food Effect

(Car)bon Capture: A car being pulled into a corn field? What better way to illustrate how to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere, and the ways healthy soil contributes to cleaner air.

Insecure Lines Exhibit At The Food Effect

Insecure Lines: Pick up a phone receiver and listen to the voices of people who struggle with hunger. Each time a story is heard, a meal is donated, empowering attendees to provide an immediate response to a person in need.

Interactive Art Exhibit At The Food Effect By Land O'Lakes, Inc.

Precision Art: Ground Control to Farmer Tom? See how mapping farm fields with satellite imagery helps farmers grow crops more efficiently.