Our food system needs to be reshaped

Recently at Collaborative, we have been thinking a lot about food. How do we feed an ever expanding population? How do we transform the way that food is delivered to us? How do we nourish and support ourselves? How do we pioneer new ways of finding balance in nature and in our bodies? How do we unite the natural universality of food with the modern technological world?

Our investment strategy focuses on companies that address these questions. Specifically, startups that work to ensure that our global food system evolves in a way that nourishes us, provides us access to affordable food options that form an alternative to today’s dominant factory farmed, mass-distributed industrialized food system.

We like to break things up into three categories:

How will food be made?

We recently invested in eXo, a company that makes protein bars using cricket flour, a common ingredient used in developing countries that is both cost efficient, high in nutrition and provides a viable answer to our first question. Finding energy efficient and sustainable ways to make healthy food is important in an era where food-production is characterized by industrial operations that lack transparency. For more on the problems associated with the way food is made today, check out Chipotle’s entertaining cartoon primer.

How will food get to us?

Sweetgreen, another company we invested in, is working on the second question. They are addressing a middle gap in distribution by broadening the opportunity for local farmers to get their products into cities – in a way that is fast, affordable, and healthy. Good Eggs, one of our earliest portfolio investments, has been diligently working to address what CEO Rob Spiro calls the “constant negotiation between man and nature” to create a farm-to-fridge grocery experience. It is very hard, and critically important, work.

Is it healthy?

All of our food investments are in some way rooted in the third question—is it healthy? Our investment in companies such as Simply Gum, Din, Hampton Creek, LivBlends, and Gobble, all of whom provide new pathways to nourishment, are an alternative to the salt, sugar and fat-based path we have taken so far.

Each of these three questions leads us to discovering new sets of problems within our global food system and to finding hosts of new entrepreneurs and companies trying to solve them. As our population increases and human habitats are transformed into urban environments, the way we grow, deliver and consume food is being forced to evolve.

If you are building a company that is working on a creative answer to our three food questions we would love to hear from you. We are in this together and we need all the help we can get.