John de la Parra

Director, Global Food PortfolioFood, The Rockefeller Foundation

John de la Parra, PhD is Director of the Global Food Portfolio at The Rockefeller Foundation where he works to advance a more nourishing and sustainable food system. He drives programming, grantmaking, performance, and partnership within The Global Food Portfolio, including two core programs – the Food System Vision Prize and the Periodic Table of Food.

John is an ethnobotanist and plant chemist with expertise in food crops and medicinal plants. His research has focused on new techniques for the optimization of valuable chemical attributes of plants in field and controlled environment agriculture, as well as the promotion of a sustainable food system that includes the knowledge held by indigenous populations.

As an Associate at the Harvard University Herbaria John has regularly delivered lectures and short courses on ethnobotany, food system innovation, agriculture, and medicinal plants. He has held additional appointments as a Research Scientist at MIT, a Lecturer of Environmental Studies at Tufts University, and a Lecturer of Biotechnology at Northeastern University.

John grew up on a farm in rural Alabama, with his family originating in México and South America. His grandmother’s early teachings on plants inspired him to become an ethnobotanist working with indigenous populations to understand how phenotypic selection influences plant-based drug discovery and food choice.

Authored Content

  • Jan 27 2023
    Perspective Access to Food Data Must Be Equitable and Open The Periodic Table of Food Initiative is an effort to create comprehensive and standardized food composition data, and methods to collect it, that are shared openly and equitably as a global resource. John de la Parra, PhD
  • Aug 03 2020
    Perspective Visions of Food System Justice Across the United States The launch of the Food System Vision Prize in October 2019 was a call for visionaries to imagine “regenerative and nourishing” food systems. The Prize subsequently spurred the creation of more than 1300 community-led visions that seek to equitably and resiliently address many historic and current challenges—including the Covid-19 pandemic and the most recent reckoning […] John de la Parra, PhD

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