Possibly. Over 100 people gathered at this month’s Food Startups meetup in San Francisco to contemplate this question and more as part of the founder’s panel. Wade Roush of Xconomy expertly moderated a panel of food startup founders including Zerocater’s Arram Sabeti, Love with Food’s Aihui Ong, Foodily’s Andrea Cutright, ShopWell’s Brian Witlin, GoodEggs’ Rob Spiro, and AgLocal’s Naithan Jones. While AgLocal and Shopwell immediately stood out as sustainably focused businesses that enable healthful and sustainable consumer food choices, the other startups are also working on pieces of the food sustainability puzzle.
For example, Love with Food makes an impact in social sustainability by helping startup food manufacturers reach their market, and donates a meal for every box of treats that they ship. When it comes to food, the sustainability equation is complex. Sustainable and humane production, fair and low carbon processing and transport, and conscious consumption all factor into the complex web between seed to farm to table. Technology is the glue that binds the pieces of the sustainable food puzzle.
The good news is that America is waking up to better, more healthful food, and that’s fueling a sustainable food market connected by technology. “Farmers markets are growing like mad in the mid-west and the south, with Michigan leading the pack,” said Spiro. With two-thirds of the population managing health related food conditions, manufacturers are also taking notice and creating gluten-free, organic, and whole grain food choices. “The Kashi’s of the world getting acquired by big brands. The new generation see their parents live with diabetes and do not want to choose that life. People are getting savvier about their choices. They ARE considering health,” said Shopwell’s Witlin. Since we spend $1 trillion on food every year, it’s important to get it right. And technology is certainly helping people learn about and get access to sustainable foods.
Connie Kwan is the CEO of RealMealz.com in Silicon Valley, CA. She holds an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School, and covers stories about triple bottom line businesses and projects. Follow her on Twitter @RealMealz, @conniemkwan.