Building a Better Food System
"We don’t need more social media posts about the food we eat, says Ryan Amsel. “We need more people to take a stake in developing expertise in how to create great food – from soil awareness, growing, processing, distributing, storing, preparing and serving. We need a community that is actively producing as much as they are consuming.”
Amsel is director of the Better Food Movement conference, a one-day event on Feb. 21 that brings together entrepreneurs in the food industry, retailers, students and educators to tackle innovations and technology aimed at improving the food system. Morning sessions are designed for those interested in making healthier food a priority, whether for business ventures, personal health or better communities. The afternoon highlights the Better Food Innovator Awards for inspiring food entrepreneurs, and the Made in Miami networking event connects top tastemakers in the food industry and offers samples of new healthy food and beverages.
One of the focus is on food innovation. “The food system as we know it has been upended, says Amsel. “We are currently seeing entrepreneurs outpace big food companies with creating innovative products. Big Food companies need to use their capital and resources to invest in research and development to produce and distribute food more efficiently, with a bigger focus on nutrition and sustainable production.”
Price vs. Quality
“Big fast food companies have commoditized food to buy at the lowest price without regard to nutrition or environmental impact. Because of the low price, we as consumers have become accustomed to getting more for less,” he says. Still, he points to local successes in healthy fast-casual spots: Della Bowls, Grown, Bolay, Choices Cafe. “The goal is to get healthy food at a price point that we are accustomed to pay for traditional fast food, $5 being the sweet spot.” Another challenge in fast food is the matter of paying living wages. “This means we must look at each step from innovative eyes: how can you grow, transport, distribute, sell, and serve more efficiently, create a growing demand, generate more profit, and therein enable living wages?”
He believes our food system needs greater transparency and more efficient communication between stakeholders. “Blockchain technology will do this on the global level. We need networking events like this conference for entrepreneurs to connect, learn and share best practices,” says Amsel. “We need people to meet and talk to each other. Farmers need to meet restaurateurs, entrepreneurs need to meet retail buyers, investors to meet with startups.”
Better Food Movement Conference 2018
Miami-Dade College, Wolfson Campus, Feb. 21
This one-day conference includes sessions addressing food, beverage and culinary entrepreneurism; innovation, disruption and collaboration; sustainable food ecosystems; fast food; food and tech; and emerging brands.Highlights include:
• Keynote speaker Einav Gefen, corporate executive chef at Unilever Food Solutions North America, on The Future of Food
• Real Food for Fast People, featuring Shannon Allen, founder of Grown, and chef Allen Campbell, founder of AVAIL and former chef to the NFL’s Tom Brady
• The Future of Food in Florida, including Marty Mesh, founder of Florida Organic Growers; Christine Rico, co-chair of SlowMoneyNYC & CFO on Speedial; Kubs Lalchandani, entrepreneurship lawyer, restaurateur, candidate for State House District 113; and Miami-Dade agriculture manager Charles LaPradd
• Innovation Beyond Borders, with Matthias Kiehm, managing director of La Centrale Food Hall at Brickell City Centre; Leticia Pollock, co-founder, Panther Coffee; and Telemundo personality chef James
• Founders Talk – The Real Stories of Food Entrepreneurs, featuring Roger Duarte & Samuel Gorenstein, founders of My Ceviche and Zuuk Kitchen; Carlos Ramirez, founder of Powerful Yogurt; Otto Othman, co-founder, Pincho Factory
In the afternoon, the Better Food Movement High School Culinary Competition and the Better Food Innovator Awards will be held.