At first glance, Foodstand appears to merely be an app: One where foodie Instagrammers can post without the backlash that so often comes with repeated photo updates of their lunch. In fact, Foodstand serves more as an incubator than it does as an abstract mobile platform, fostering New York area food startups with a mission to change the way the city eats.
It does so with several initiatives that only begin with its app. While admittedly Instagram-esque, it maintains an element of exclusivity. Only those within the food industry are invited to participate, be them chefs, food writers or foodie entrepreneurs. Foodstand exists, according to its website, “to reconnect with our food community” and “make it easier for everyone to help grow a better food system.” A regular celebration of that mission comes in the form of the Foodstand Spotlight Series: An event where food startups can pitch their business models and purposes to a panel of experts, as well as an audience of industry representatives.
Last Tuesday’s Foodstand Spotlight event featured four food startups looking to make major changes in the way New Yorkers eat and think about where their food comes from.
1. The Pixie and the Scout
Katy McNulty knows her way around a kitchen and holds strong tenets for the ingredients that belong in it. That credo remains a motivation behind The Pixie and The Scout, the catering company that she co-founded with her husband, offering “sustainable events” and “intelligent hospitality,” she says. Today, one of the company’s goals is to become a regular alternative to the cafeteria-like settings to which busy professionals commonly restrict themselves, and to earn status as a regional household name that is viewed, as McNulty puts it, like “a sustainable cafe in-house.”
The Pixie and the Scout’s price point is steep, with catered business lunches going roughly for the tune of $250 or more. However, the proof is in the sustainably-sourced contents of each meal. “To actually use…farms and farmers is difficult,” says McNulty. “[We’re] trying to make high-end catering…much more approachable.”
2. Eco-Farm on Wheels
It’s been proven time and time again: Good habits begin in childhood. Carol Lake, owner of the Ridgefield, Connecticut biodynamic Dancing Dog Farm, agrees. Her mission: If urban-dwelling kids can’t come to the farm, bring the farm to them. Armed with live rural animals (pigs, mostly), compost boxes, and buckets of dirt and worms, Lake and her team travel to New York City to teach children the fundamentals of food cultivation. The worms eat the apple core, then produce soil, and that soil is used to plant seeds that turn into fruits and vegetables. Eco-Farm on Wheels has already won a fairly big first client: The New York Public Library.
3. Mountain Morsels
Rebecca Scott is a one-woman shakeup of the snack industry’s landscape. Her company, Sustainable Snacks, produces Mountain Morsels: Five flavors of vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free energy bites, the ingredients for which Scott hand-slices, mixes and produces entirely on her own. Mountain Morsels’ naturally-named varieties (e.g., “Harper’s Ferry Cherry” and “Great Valley Ridge Raisin”) are presently available in 15 locations, with Scott looking to saturate the New York market and beyond.
4. Green Top Farms
Hydroponics are a friend to the urban farmer, allowing eco-friendly vegetables to be grown in non-conventional settings. That’s how Josh Lee, better known as “Farmer Josh,” came to launch Green Top Farms, a producer of microgreens that employs indoor seed trays to locally harvest and distribute sustainable produce. A North Carolina native, Lee gained his expertise in agriculture during the summers he spent working on area farms, today putting that knowledge toward both Green Top Farms and Nourish International, “a non-profit that fights poverty through student action,” according the the former’s website. Weekly microgreen subscriptions can be purchased from Green Top Farms for $20 each, affording four days of 2.5-oz fresh salads.
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Harvest vegetables image via Shutterstock