Ever since I tasted the crunchy salad which grew in my grandma’s garden I knew there was something special to it. Yet, I had no clue what this might possibly be. I was raised in a well protected parental home where eating has always been a highly important matter, mostly because my grandfather had built a business as a wholesaler for meat products to supply local butchers. Spending most of my childhood days figuring out what sports activity to do next I was consequently also left with no other choice than discussing which type of sausage had a superior taste. Yet, my mind was not fully able to connect the many different dots of what is defined as FOOD.
Discovering the dilemma
This changed dramatically in my twenties when I had the opportunity to study abroad in different countries and become acquainted with the diversity of different cultures. Having experienced the cultural food-achievements locally in Europe, Asia, the Americas and the Middle-East I will always be overwhelmed by its complexity. Today in fact the topic strikes me so deeply that I could daily read another book on food and its many aspects such as:
i.) Health & Nutrition (e.g. “The China Study” by Colin T. Campbell)
ii.) Cooking (e.g. “The Aroma Bible” by K. Page)
iii.) History (e.g. “A History of Food” by M. Toussaint-Samat)
iv.) Culture (e.g. “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”, by Michael Pollan)
However, my biggest passion in life also comes with a dilemma. The more I learn about FOOD and its so-called “connection” to us as human beings, the more distant I feel from explaining to other people what that special thing about my grandma’s salad was. Estimates state that on average more than 80% of our daily intake is not real food but rather “industrially processed products” or “food innovations”. Moreover, roughly ten companies worldwide determine what we as human beings actually eat. “Organic” seems to become the new synonym for “healthy”. At the same time convenient food solutions are also on the rise. Cook books, cooking events and TV shows such “Chef’s Table” round this up by making us think to have a healthy “human-food-relationship”.
Yet,in 2019 human mankind seems more disconnected from food than ever before.
Why are we in today’s rapidly innovating world so distant from having a real connection to this essential matter we put inside of us on average three times per day? Every morning that I wake up with this question in mind I start wondering how to re-establish a “human-food-relationship” that matches an urban and modern lifestyle.
Will organic farmer’s markets work at scale? Is urban farming the answer to making more people eat greens every day? Do eaters know where the seed of a commercial vertical farm is sourced? Will there be infinite variety of — for example salad — by kitchen farming? Will food supplements close the nutrient gap? Will our children eventually understand what real food actually is?
Connecting the dots
As an adult my education and journeys helped me to better sharpen my senses so that by this day I might have an answer what that special thing about my grandma’s salad really was. Every time I chewed on this crunchy, buttery fresh tasting salad there was a warm feeling of TRUST that no other food could compete with. I knew that my grandma had always wanted the best for her family, so how could this be any different when it came to food?
Transferring this insight into today’s reality lets me conclude that we have not only lost our connection to food, but even more dramatic stop trusting what we can or cannot eat. This is a severe trust gap. How can we ever believe that the food we consume is the best in terms of nutritional value and taste if we do not notice this warm essential feeling of trust?
We fail to establish an emotional connection to fresh food which leads to a lack of trust.
Winning people’s trust in real food
Educational campaigns, norms or even enforced laws (e.g. meatless Friday) are doomed to fail because human nature does not like to be told what to do or not to do. To succeed in creating a better future we first have to win people’s hearts by tapping their emotions and creating true love for the topic. How can this be achieved? Making people farm at home is the ultimate means to create sensuality, intimacy and mystery. Only Home Farming has this power to bring back a deep understanding, respect and trust. Home Farming lets everyone observe a food to grow. Home Farming lets people touch a food’s true nature. And ultimately Home Farming lets us empathize what this thing we call FOOD actually is. Young family’s children will early on develop a food passion and show commitment. Only with Home Farming we can tap into the past, present and future of people’s dreams by creating myths around GREAT FOOD.
In today’s busy and urban lifestyle there might certainly be a knowledge, time or space constraint.
Yet, every active home farmer understands intuitively why his or her self grown food is the best in the world. So why do only a fraction of us engage in this activity? We need to answer this question by overcoming knowledge, time and space constraints and rethinking conventional “big food wisdom” that has detached us so severely.
I imagine a future where fresh plant-based food is
A small step towards a big vision
My co-founders Stefan, Daan, Christian and I founded Yard — a tech enabled company with the mission to make this future come true. In order to reconnect eaters to food and start closing the trust gap we aim at empowering home farmers with great solutions so that everyone has:
Around the clock access to uncountable varieties of the healthiest and tastiest fresh foods sustainably produced.
Four weeks ago, we launched our first product SHYNE— a state of the art WIFI-enabled grow lamp. In combination with easy to use seed caps — KAPLSY — this solution lets everyone grow this salad of my grandma, which is so special. As a team this is only a first step towards a big vision and we are working hard on many more to come. Just like my grandmother wanted the best for our family we at Yard want the best for our eaters.
There is a green shift occurring in our urban world. This shift is energized by the fusion between fields such as agriculture, technology, energy and IoT to name a few. I am convinced that this shift will bring a healthier and better future for our planet since the solutions are more sustainable than the old paradigms of industrialization. When it comes to food, this legacy is too short-sighted. Because of our deep connection to food in terms of its health impact and our cultural bonds I believe that making the food system simply more sustainable is not enough. In a world of increasing health consciousness and individualism we deserve better answers to this highly complex matter by adding superior variables to the equation. Our team has a vision to tackle these challenges so that in 15 years my own children will understand what was so special about grand-grandma’s salad.