This startup turns food waste into new brands

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By offering developing farmers simple technology to preserve their crops and a distribution supply chain, Agricycle creates new markets for farmers. For female farmers growing mangos or pineapples in Kenya or Uganda , one of the main businesses challenges is simply getting food to customers: Without access to refrigerated storage or efficient transportation, food often spoils before it gets to a market. Overproduction is another problem, many tiny farms grow the same crops as neighbors flooding the market at harvest time. A startup called Agricycle is working to build new brands that can save food that would otherwise be lost—and help boost the incomes of rural families living in extreme poverty. Read Full Story

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Are dog-food startups like Farmer’s Dog and Wild Earth worth the price? We asked an expert

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An investigation into the Farmer’s Dog, Wild Earth, Jinx, and other gourmet dog food brands. After my Bernese mountain dog, Huxley, had a bad run-in with a rawhide bone, I learned the hard way that dogs can have sensitive stomachs. But the wrong food can cause much worse than tummy trouble. All it takes is a few minutes of research to find tons of food recalls and class action lawsuits about bad kibble. A new batch of boutique, direct-to-consumer dog foods promises to keep your best friend happy and healthy. They have beautiful branding and gorgeous Instagram ads, and they feature buzzwords such as “human-grade,” “grain-free,” and “fully transparent ingredients.” But are they worth it? We got in touch with Hunter Finn, D.V.M, TikTok’s favorite veterinarian , about dog-food marketing myths —and the best tips to avoid them. “Instead of falling for marketing tactics, we as pet owners need to …

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Kind is the first food brand to commit to buying ‘bee-friendly’ almonds

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Pollinating California’s vast almond crop has been devastating for bee populations. Kind wants to use its buying power to implement new farming practices to change that. The snack company Kind is one of the largest buyers of almonds in the world, purchasing around 25 million pounds of the nut each year. The company is now using its heft to push almond farmers to use agricultural methods that are less damaging to bees: By 2025, it plans to source almonds only from “bee-friendly” farmland. Read Full Story

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This burger doesn’t require land or fresh water to produce: It’s made with kelp

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Kelp farms are enormous carbon sinks, so kelp jerky company Akua is looking for ways to get people to eat more seaweed. In an effort to lower the carbon footprint of your diet, maybe you’ve swapped out a beef burger for one made from plants. But growing crops like peas and potatoes can still be resource-intensive, requiring lots of land, fresh water, and fertilizer, the abundant use of which is degrading our soil and polluting the water and air. Instead of looking to replace meat with plants, food startup Akua is looking to the ocean with the launch of its kelp burger. Read Full Story

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Mapping Local Essentials: Being the Business that Grows, Sells, or Markets the Beans

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Posted by MiriamEllis Image credit: Kenneth Leung , Michael Coghlan “Dried beans saw a more than 230% increase in demand and rice sales spiked by 166% in that same time.” - ABC How should a business operate now? Where is there work to be done? Economists are making stark predictions about the future of small businesses in the US, but at the same time, I live in a town without a courier service established enough to meet the mushrooming demand for home delivery. Frankly, it’s devastating reading headlines forecasting the permanent closure of 7.5 million American SMBs , but while absorbing these, I also spent six weeks shaking the Internet for bathroom tissue before locating some 1,400 miles away. Point being: Where there’s need, fulfilment can be a public good, and where there’s upheaval, any possibility is worth considering. Necessities are emerging in bold relief on the map of each …

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Could these 50 hot tech startups be tomorrow’s unicorns?

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The next crop of billion-dollar phenoms may be dominated by companies that quietly help other companies get business done, not splashy consumer brands. Startup companies can be black boxes—opaque operations with few public disclosure requirements. That makes it hard to see tomorrow’s standouts today. So the research firm CB Insights, with the support of the National Science Foundation, set out to build an algorithm to discern the health of startups through their publicly available data, and even identify ones that could grow to a billion-dollar valuation—making them, in one of the tech industry’s favorite buzzwords, unicorns . Read Full Story

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Why now is the most exciting time in space in 50 years

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It’s not the launches, or even the possibility of human spaceflight becoming commonplace. It’s the economy, stupid. The essential parts of an economy are intertwined by their very nature. There’s no point in having a food market if there are no farmers to supply food. But there’s no point in growing food until there are markets where you can sell it. And what is the right moment to go into the “food transportation” business, carting the freshly harvested produce from the field to the store? We’ve seen this in our own era: What was the point in creating high-speed internet service if there was no content online that required such speeds? Why bother creating YouTube if no one has the bandwidth to watch and upload videos easily? Read Full Story

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The food system is trying to reinvent itself on the fly to solve its pandemic food waste problem

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The pathways to get food to restaurants are entirely different that getting food to stores. As small farmers try to adjust, it’s creating a tragic loss of food at a time when people need it most. As long lines of newly unemployed people wait at food banks—on a recent day at a distribution point in San Antonio, 10,000 cars waited in line —many farmers are simultaneously throwing out food that they can no longer sell to restaurants, hotels, and schools. Read Full Story

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Scientists have turned spinach into biological sensors that email environmental alerts

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You’ve got mail: It’s from your spinach, and it’s warning you about the arsenic in your soil. When it grows in a field, most spinach just sits there, absorbing light and nutrients and growing leaves. A new, engineered version of spinach does quite a bit more: It can detect dangerous levels of arsenic in the soil and then send a signal to a nearby cell phone to warn a farmer. It’s one example of a “nanobionic” sensor: plants that are being developed to serve as biological warning tools, not food. Read Full Story

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Too many farmers can’t get broadband. That’s a crisis for us all

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The future of farming is about using tech to overcome an array of challenges. That requires robust connectivity in the field, writes John Deere’s CTO. Despite all the challenges that farmers face today , I remain extremely optimistic about the future of agriculture. It will take more than the incredibly hard work of farmers, however, to continue to generate the food that our country and the rest of the world rely on. It will also require meeting the need for expanded access to rural broadband, which farmers need now more than ever. Read Full Story

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