How To Make The Food Supply More Transparent And Healthier – Forbes

Posted: November 11, 2019 at 7:46 pm


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Eggs, pixaby

With all the discussions about GMOs/non-GMOs (genetically-modified foods), organic food, natural food and farm to table, we can all be rather confused about what to eat.

Its all about the food supply, according to a fascinating woman I spoke with recently who, in the search for resolutions to her own health challenges, discovered how opaque our food supply chain really is and why thats not good for us, the economy or the planet.

I personally have medical allergies, and have had a lot of medical issues, Gabrielle (Ellie) Rubenstein told me, so that, when I was able to figure out the difference between one egg and a Vital Farms egg, I dont have an egg allergy! It turns out that I have a feed and a hormone allergy, which got me excited. Wait a second, this is great knowledge! What (else)do I not have allergies to?

Ellie Rubenstein, CEO & Co-Founder, Manna Parrtners

Rubenstein discovered that how exactly our food gets from its source to our plates no matter if its plant-based, fish, or meat needs some serious sunlight shed on it, literally and figuratively. She says wed all be healthier and eating much more nutritious food, if the food supply was transparent, enabling us to make better informed choices.

Nonprofit health advocate? Not. Ellie Rubenstein is an entrepreneur and investor like her famous father, David Rubenstein, and a self-described outdoorswoman who hunts and fishes in Alaska for her own food like her mother. She is the founder and CEO of Manna Partners, who decided to put her formidable energy, resources and intellect into forming Manna as an asset management firm committed to providing consumers with a more transparent food supply chain from production to plate.

Not your typical investor, Rubenstein is focused solely on the food supply and wanted to thoroughly understand it, so she earned a Master of Science in agricultural economics at Purdue University, and talks enthusiastically about being out in the farm fields or with fishermen in her waders.

Here are insights on our food supply from our conversation:

Showing Produce, Manna Partners website

What is the food supply chain? Rubenstein broke it into four buckets: (a) The source: The land, or fishermen and their boats; (b) Processing: Theres nothing bad about processing, Rubenstein insisted, its where they bring the materials, so that they are able to go out to the distributor; (c) The distribution: That is, the food manufacturer or commercial food supplier; and (d) the consumer brand: the entity that creates and packages their version of it and gets it into stores or restaurants.

Whats wrong with our food supply now?: In addition to too the food being farmed-raised with too many hormones and chemicals, the process lacks transparency and traceability, she said, and therefore, we dont know nor can trust what were really eating.She said that transparency and traceability will provide visibility into the foods path from source to plate and will build consumer trust. For example, one of their portfolio companies, Vital Farms, she said provides a scanning code for each egg, so you can see which farm it came from, how the chicken was raised, what they were fed, and what kind of processing the egg went through.

Are genetically-modified foods, GMOs, good or bad?: I think that how to feed the world in developing countries versus how do you improve the health of the food supply chain in developed countries needs to be separated, Rubenstein emphasized. She said people have been developing more nutritious seeds for generations, so thats nothing new, and that all options for how to get more nutrients to people in each region should be explored. In emerging markets today, they used to all want phones; now they want to be healthier.

Salmon photo, downtoearth.org

Whats the impact of climate change on the food supply?: The problem isnt that were running out of food, in Rubensteins opinion; the problem is theres a mismatch of the production and where the population is.She stressed the importance of checking the source of the knowledge and making sure that farmers and fishermen are among those sources to get the best information.

What are the latest food supply chain trends to watch?: There are three trends to keep an eye on, according to Rubenstein: (a) Aquaculture, or farmed fish and seafood, which she said is a sustainable way to raise more fish especially for areas that do not have easy access to this vital protein. Disneyworld has an aquaculture demonstration in its Living with Land exhibit, which I experienced earlier this year. (b) Regenerative agriculture, which focuses on maintaining the soil health and mineral content, thereby growing healthier crops, reducing the need for chemical fertilizers and which offers increased yields, resilience to climate instability, and higher health and vitality for farming and ranching communities. And, (c) Blockchain, which she thinks enables greater traceability from the foods source to your plate.

One key takeaway for me from my conversation with Ellie Rubenstein is that current food labeling does not adequately tell us where the food came from, and that we need to focus on finding that out to fully understand what to eat and buy for our families.

You can listen to my full interview with Ellie Rubenstein on my podcast, Green Connections Radio. For more information on building a more sustainable food supply, listen to my interview with Dr. Robin Currey of Prescott College, or read highlights from it in my Forbes blog here.

See the rest here:

How To Make The Food Supply More Transparent And Healthier - Forbes

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November 11th, 2019 at 7:46 pm

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