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Plus events and news from the food supply chain
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It's a Jungle out There

Don’t worry, this newsletter is not going to go full Upton Sinclair on you. This month, however, we are taking a bit of inspiration from Upton Sinclair’s reaction to the reception of his debut book, The Jungle: “I aimed at the public’s heart and by accident I hit it in the stomach.”

We’re hoping that by aiming for the stomach, we’ll hit people in the heart.        
                

Global supply chains are just packed with people doing everything from deliveries to butchering chickens to running forklifts. When Robyn was writing Food Routes about how food travels around the world, she met many of these people. Food Routes is about the journey that food takes. But we want to know more about the people facilitating that journey.


Humans are involved at every point of the infrastructure of food. They own the farms, harvest the crops, haul the food, prepare the food, sell the food, deliver the food, and deal with the waste. Their roles in the system change with technology, but they are still there. Some of these people are very visible – the farmers rightfully lauded and the celebrity chefs who shape our tastes. But in between where food is produced and food is consumed, many hands are involved. These people in the middle are largely invisible in our media. And they shouldn't be.

As we move into the future of food and increasing technological advances, we are going to pass the mic to these people in the middle of the network. That's not to say that we want to speak for them. We're going to let them talk about how they feel about the work they do, the impact they make, and how they see their jobs and roles evolving in the face of technology. 
 
In this newsletter we have a Startup Spotlight on Nampya Farmer's Market. Mark Matovu is working to shorten the divide between the small farmer and the urban consumer. Technology is enabling farmers to organize and access more stable markets. 

And if the idea of humans in the supply chain wasn't weird enough, check out Cory Leahy's article about finding bugs in our food - on purpose - in this month's featured article.

by LX Van Drie,
Spring Marketing Intern

Featured Article: Edible Bugs

More Than Just Protein

Unlike in Upton Sinclair's famous novel, some people seek out insects in their diets. From sustainably-minded hippie food to haute cuisine restaurants, bugs are crawling and inching their way onto menus worldwide.
Flavor notes range from peppery lemon to pine-nutty to prosciutto-savory. Some insect varieties make for lovely garnishes on your seafood salad, while others are perfect as the heart of a well-salsa’d taco. If you think about it — with a wide-open mind — bugs aren’t all that different from crustaceans. After all, crawfish are known by some in Louisiana as mudbugs.
Just as we enjoy the sweet flavor of shrimp and the slight crunch involved in devouring a crab or lobster, eating bugs just takes a bit of practice. 
 Read more of this story in our online magazine.

Order Issue No. 5 of Food+City Magazine
Robyn's Corner

The Future of Food Innovation: Is it in Smart Cities or the Circular Economy?

Robyn spoke on a panel at the most recent meeting of the Food & Tech Austin group last week on the future of food innovation. Joining her were Moderator Robert Nathan Allen (RNA), Dr. Mark Sanders, Director - Circular Economy, Austin Technology Incubator, and Dr. Stan McClellan, Director (former) / Professor (current), Texas State University and author of "Smart Cities: Applications, Technologies, Standards, and Driving Factors"

Food+City News

The Global Grocery Store: How your Food Gets from Farm to Table

Robyn's on her way to Washington, DC next week for the next stop on her book tour. She'll join Inside Science of the Smithsonian Institute for a discussion and book signing. Get the details here.

 

Food Routes Available

 F+C Director Robyn Metcalfe's new book is out from MIT Press, and can be ordered now on Amazon.  
 "Even if we think we know a lot about good and healthy food―even if we buy organic, believe in slow food, and read Eater―we probably don't know much about how food gets to the table. What happens between the farm and the kitchen?  In Food Routes, Robyn Metcalfe explores an often-overlooked aspect of the global food system: how food moves from producer to consumer. She finds that the food supply chain is adapting to our increasingly complex demands for both personalization and convenience―but, she says, it won't be an easy ride."

Read more and order now!

Startup Challenge Spotlight

Nampya Farmers Market

One of our fabulous 2019 Startup Challenge finalists was unable to attend the official SXSW Food+City pitch competition on account of visa challenges.  Mark Matovu, CEO and co-founder of the Nampya Farmers Market in Kampala, Uganda, could not be considered for the Prize without being present; however, he benefited from his pairing with Food+City mentor extraordinaire Carol Thompson, who continues to be intrigued by Mark and advises him regularly.

Mark Matovu is a 31 year old engineer who left the family farm and spent 10 years pursuing a career in business and computing in the city of Kampala, Uganda.  After launching a successful IT training startup, he  felt called to return to his hometown outside of Kampala, Namayumba. He returned to train the younger generation to become agricultural workers to be of service to their country.

In 2016, Mark founded the Nampya Farmers Market (NFM). NFM offers a tech-enabled sourcing and distribution platform for agricultural produce to urban retailers. NFM translates into collective purchasing power to farmers across the country, allowing them access to stable markets at better prices. NFM is bridging gaps in food and market security through an organized digital platform. Smallholder farmers and informal retail vendors are on-board simultaneously to facilitate agritrade. Nampya Farmers Market has a vision for a Fresh Food Fair Africa. Their mission is to provide affordable, quality, and safe food to Uganda’s urban consumers, and reliable markets for farmers across the country. Mark is innovating the local food industry through creating deeper market penetration and distribution channels in the consumer food supply.

In 2019 Mark has been part of three distinct conferences:

1. Sankalp Africa Summit and Forum was held in March 2019. There were 350 applicants pitching at this event, and Mark’s Nampya Farmers Market pitch finished in the top 5.  Focus: Impact Investing and Social Entrepreneurship 
2. Ashoka Conference 2019 in Johannesburg
The focus of this event was championing social entrepreneurs through innovation labs. Once again, Mark was one of the top presenters. 
3. Alibaba Business School Fellowship Class 5 (Africa) 
May 12- May 24th in Hangzhou,China, where he has been invited to participate in the Alibaba Leadership Program in China this month. 

In addition to these conferences and his acceptance as one of our 2019 finalists, Mark has recently been nominated for the Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative, the $10 million contest launched by Alibaba Group Executive Chairman Jack Ma to inspire an entire continent of entrepreneurs.  Best of luck to you, Mark and the Nampya Farmers Market! Our Startup Challenge may not have been in the works for Mark to practice his pitch, but his story is one example of how our mentorship program helps startups gain exposure and networking connections for months and even years beyond the event. 

Upcoming Events:

Achieving Healthy and Sustainable Food Systems in an Urbanized World

This year’s Future Food-Tech Summit in New York (June 18-19) will focus on the role of technology in achieving healthy and sustainable food systems in an urbanized world – exploring everything from gut-friendly functional foods, healthier snacking and data-driven personalized nutrition to next-generation proteins, biotech innovation and digitized supply chains.

London Food Tech Week is the world's largest week-long showcase and collaboration of the companies and trends transforming the food ecosystem using technology. Self-described as a festival celebrating and connecting all the incredible people, companies and innovations in Food Tech, and not a conference. 
Designed to educate, foster partnerships, and help businesses enhance their impact on Food Tech. 

 

Recommended Reading

Civil Eats: An indigenous community in Tuscon is getting back to its roots with a farming co-op. Read More

The New Food Economy:
Clean Label’s Dirty Little Secret. Read More

Healthyish:
Top Chef contestant Fatima Ali relates her experience on being a chef with a terminal cancer diagnosis. She was posthumously awarded the James Beard Award for this piece. Read More

What We’re Reading
: The Jemima Code by Toni Tipton-Martin. This book brings to light centuries of African American woman who forged American food culture. Tipton-Martin gives these forgotten women a chance to be known through the cookbooks they wrote. 

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