Breakfast: What’s in your morning bowl?
Along with fresh orange slices and Kukitcha tea we had Oatmeal with Apples and Dried Apricots. I find this simple dish simply delicious.
Lunch: Gary and I took off on the subway. He was off to a rehearsal and I was invited to attend the FoodBytes! Summit in Brooklyn. I had no idea what it was or what was going to happen but I am glad I went! I learned from their website that Rabobank, the world’s premier bank to the food, beverage and agribusiness industry, and SF New Tech, San Francisco’s largest and longest-running tech showcase event, created FoodBytes! in 2015 to bring together new ideas in food, innovation, and technology, with capital Rabobank has been investing in the food and agriculture sector for over 100 years, but with new challenges are arising from increased demand for food, changing consumer preferences and the need for sustainable food production and they wanted to help spur the leaders and technology solutions that will help address the world’s food challenges.
That’s a mouthful! Now when the concepts “sustainable food production” and “increased demand for food” come together the best solution, and only solution, in my opinion is growing organic plant foods. Unfortunately most people passionate about these concepts don’t want to give up their taste for flesh so they are looking for ways to support the cruel and UNSUSTAINABLE practice of raising nonhuman animals and their byproducts (meat, foul, fish, dairy, eggs) for food. At events like this one, you’ll find companies producing vegan products along side nonhuman animal products with trending vocabulary to satisfy investors that want to feel good about the future while capitalizing on it and consumers that think they are getting something healthy for their families. In other words, some of the products are really good and others, not so much.
The price of admission went from $179-$349, so this event was not for everyone. There were bankers, investors, start-up entrepreneurs, established business owners and employees, marketing professionals and the people (like me) from the press. Here’s a shot of the crowd.
I was hungry and I knew there would be food. Here is a shot of the menu. I appreciated the effort to let us know what food was available, what was vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free. There was plenty of everything for everyone including meats and cheeses and an open bar.
It was finger food, since there weren’t any plates available until the official dinnertime after the speaker portion of the event was over. I found myself going for the radishes and stringbeans…
… along with the tomatoes and broccoli.
My favorite food table contained the Dolmas…
…and the vegan Smoked Salmon! This got me very excited.
Sophie’s Kitchen has been around for a few years but I have not had a chance to sample their offerings. The Smoked Salmon was amazing. The flavor was as close as I could remember it (not having any in over 30 years) and the texture was pretty good. On a bagel with vegan vegetable cream cheese, you would never know the difference.
Then I went straight over to the Sophie’s Kitchen table to see what else they had.
I tried the crab cakes. Mmmm.
Masienda, a company founded in 2014 to source, import and purvey the highest quality Latin ingredients and value-added products while creating a fair market that promotes agricultural biodiversity, sustainability and supports smallholder farmers in Mexico offered corn cakes made with beans and heirloom, non GMO corn. They were tasty, with a hint of fennel in the mix.
Moving to the other hall for the presentation I stopped by the Gotham Greens table to sample their salad with some noodles tossed with Momo Dressing (which actually contained basil grown at Gotham Farms). Gotham Greens is a worldwide pioneer in the field of urban agriculture and a leading regional producer of hyper-local, premium-quality, greenhouse grown vegetables and herbs. They grow greens in greenhouses on top of buildings in urban environments. It’s genius!
Here is FoodBytes! Founder Manuel Gonzalez. I’ll be interviewing Manuel on my IT’S ALL ABOUT FOOD program this Tuesday.
The room was packed.
Before the feature presentations we heard from a panel. I listened, heard a lot of cool vocabulary and business terms but most of what I heard was disappointing. “Local” and “Artisanal” ring false when peddling slaughtered nonhuman animals (Blue Hills Farms); Certified Humane is an oxymoran when talking about nonhuman animal products like free-range eggs (Sir Kensington); nothing is environmentally-friendly or sustainable about Genetically-Modified seeds, Herbicides and Fungicides (Syngenta). Only Daniel Giusti had my attention. He’s world-renowned, formerly Chef de Cuisine of one of the world’s top restaurants, Noma in Copenhagen. He recently founded Brigaid, an organization created to improve the food children eat in schools. Brigaid wants to get real chefs cooking in the schools along with providing a kitchen model that is efficient, durable, cost effective and does not take up too much space. He spoke about how little the people made who prepared school meals and how that needed to change. There is a lot involved when it comes to providing healthy school food, not stuff in a box with all kinds of artificial ingredients, with lots of sugar and salt, that is mixed with water, heated in a microwave and served. In addition to the cost, politics, personnel and student eating habits play significant roles. I support serving children real food in schools, and to me, that means plant-based. I am sure Chef Giusti will want to include nonhuman animals on his school lunch menus, which may be healthier than current options but not good as a plant-based menu. But Rome wasn’t built in a day, was it?
I was very happy to listen to Eugene Wang’s story about Sophie’s Vegan Seafood.
Only ten businesses were selected to present at this summit out of over 200 submissions. Below is a list with descriptions provided by FoodBytes!:
True Made Foods – uses fresh vegetables to naturally sweeten their products (such as True Ketchup, True BBQ Sauce and Veracha Hot Sauce) whilst drastically cutting back on added sugar, providing you with a tasty healthy alternative.
The Chaat Co – recently launched a line of savory yogurt snacks inspired by the unique flavors and ingredients of Indian street snacks commonly known as “chaat”. The company intends to extend the $8B American yogurt market, consisting primarily of a sweet product for breakfast, into a savory snack with no-added sugar and crunchy lentil puffs as toppings.
Sophie’s Kitchen Vegan Seafood – produces ready to eat vegan/vegetarian plant-based food products by using a patent-pending process out of pea protein and the superfood konjac root.
DouxMatok Ltd – has developed sugars with enhanced sweetness allowing for a considerable reduction in the consumption of sugars in foods and beverages whilst retaining the same “full sugar experience”. DouxMatok sugars have been successfully tested by leading global companies in baked products, morning cereals, dairy products, chocolates & other confectionery and in a number of beverages.
NOA Potions – produce a beverage (NOA Relaxation) with natural herbs that lessens stress and increases focus. They have combined cutting-edge scientific research with ancient traditions and is made from natural ingredients and inspired by the purity of the Scandinavian nature.
LoveTheWild – pairs sustainable fish with bold flavors and easy cooking instructions for an all-in-one solution to cooking great, healthy meals at home. Increasing seafood consumptions will have a meaningful impact on population health, and lighten our agricultural footprints on the earth.
Masienda – sell Mexican corn to meet the demands of chefs producing high quality Mexican food in New York, Los Angeles and beyond. Their core mission is to source, import and purvey the highest quality products while creating a fair market that promotes agricultural biodiversity, sustainability and supports smallholder farmers in Mexico. Masienda will begin offering a catalog of value-added products in 2016, including fresh heirloom tortillas, masa harina and chips.
Kakaxi – a 21st century solution to the growing disconnect between farmers and consumer. The Kakaxi smart-farm monitoring device and mobile App provides valuable information to farmers through data collection and satisfies consumer curiosity through time-lapse video and social news feed.
FreshTemp – temperature management technology with cloud connectivity that provides complete food safety and operations management for commercial kitchens – from large-chain, quick service restaurants to independent dining services to food retailers.
Arable Labs – created the Pulsepod – a complete solution for crop management that provides scientific quality measurements such as rainfall, crop water demand, water stress, microclimate, canopy biomass and more. Jam-packed with sensors that fit into the palm of your hand and weighs under a pound with integrated mounting so it can be used anywhere in vegetables, field crops, perennials or pastures.
We got to vote on our favorite. Mine was Sophie’s Kitchen!
The winner was True Made Foods, their products: Ketchup, Barbecue Sauce and Hot Sauce use less sugar and have more nutrition then conventional condiments by adding a significant amount of real vegetables to every bottle. Their tag line is “Ketchup is now a vegetable”. It’s a nice idea and the way I hope all companies go in the future with processed foods, but this company was not as “disruptive” as Sophie’s Vegan Seafood.
Here’s Kevin Powell, the one who started True Made Foods. Once fit and athletic, like most Americans consumed the SAD (standard American Diet) and he didn’t like vegetables. His wife Abbey created a ketchup that used spinach, carrots and butternut squash and that was the beginning of True Made Foods.
The event was going on until 10pm for more eating and drinking but I wanted to head home. On the way out we were given a box of Gotham Greens lettuce. Apparently they had a lot and I was encouraged to take more. I took five boxes!
Dinner: As soon as I got home, I started chopped carrots and red onions. I knew Gary would be hungry. He was rehearsing all day and not at a big food event like me. I added them to the cooked yellow split peas and made a new soup.
In addition, I used some of the new Gotham Greens for a salad with Avocado and Tahini Dressing.
Evening: We ended the evening with Toast with Apricot Butter and Peanut Butter along with Vanilla Almond Rooibos Tea. It’s a special, comforting treat to have at night.