Broken Bread's Roy Choi Explains The Truth Behind Our Food Chain - Exclusive

The words "breaking bread" may conjure up warm images of friends gathered around the table, tearing apart a hearty loaf as they talk, laugh, and pour wine. What about "Broken Bread," which happens to be the name of a KCET/Tastemade series now in its second season? According to the documentary's producer and narrator Chef Roy Choi, "Broken Bread" is aptly named because our food chain, indeed, is broken. The intention of the show, Choi told Mashed in an exclusive interview, was, "Let's all gather around the table and let's eat and let's just talk about this stuff," he said, asking the question: 'Where did this food come from?'"

The answers to that question turn out to be surprising–and disturbing, Choi added. "The whole essence of agriculture and regenerative agriculture is disappearing," he said. "Kids in elementary schools can't even access any food that have any nutrients. Communities that have been forced and pushed through the history of American culture, especially communities of color, are continuously ... now being pushed again out of their home." One key goal of "Breaking Bread," he noted, is to shed light on how the conglomeration of the food chain is affecting not only the quality of the food, but the communities who fall through the cracks when all of our food comes from just a few sources. "There are no regulations or laws to protect them," Choi said. "They're literally being forced out. Immigrants' water is being cut off in order for them to flee from their homes, or their apartments, to make way for luxury condos."

Why we need to worry about seeds becoming extinct

As food consumers, we may have many concerns: pollution of our food supply, food "deserts," in which it's harder for communities to get access to fresh produce, and things like genetically modified ingredients. Want one more (perhaps even more distressing) worry to add to your list? According to Choi, the actual seeds used to grow our food are endangered. "[Farmers are] saying that seeds are disappearing, and if we don't start to do something about it, there may be no heirloom or wild or natural or dynamic seeds, it will be maybe five seeds that exist within the whole world controlled by one source," Choi explained. "That could happen within the next five to ten years, and because of that, we will have all these diseases and things that will happen that will be controlled again by only one conglomerate."

Of course, "Breaking Bread" isn't just about the scarcity of seeds and the social injustices of the food chain; Choi, after all, is the host, and we know from his work with Jon Favreau on "The Chef Show" that he can be playful and curious, which we see when he engages with the various cultures and communities featured in each episode. Above all else, said Choi, "Ultimately what 'Broken Bread' is:... a platform to find solutions for these really, really difficult and almost [incomprehensible] problems."

Watch episodes of "Broken Bread" Season 2 at 8 p.m. PT Tuesdays on KCET and Tastemade.