Imagine eating a burger grown in a laboratory, a strawberry picked by a robot, or a pastry created with a 3-D printer. You would never taste the difference, but these technologies might just save your health and the planet’s. Today, landmark advances in computing, engineering, and medicine are driving solutions to the biggest problems created by industrialized food.
Tech to Table introduces readers to twenty-five of the most creative entrepreneurs advancing these solutions. They come from various places and professions, identities and backgrounds. But they share an outsider’s perspective and an idealistic, sometimes aggressive, ambition to rethink the food system.
Reinvention is desperately needed. Under Big Ag, pollution, climate change, animal cruelty, hunger, and obesity have festered, and despite decades of effort, organic farming accounts for less than one percent of US croplands. Entrepreneurs represent a new path, one where disruptive technology helps people and the environment. These innovations include supplements to lower the methane in cattle belches, drones that monitor irrigation levels in crops, urban warehouses that grow produce year-round, and more.
The pace and breadth of change is astonishing, as investors pump billions of dollars into ag-innovation. Startups are attracting capital and building markets, with the potential to upend conventional agribusiness’s stranglehold on the food system. Not every invention will prosper long-term, but each marks a fundamental change in our approach to feeding a growing population—sustainably.
A revolution in how we grow and eat food is brewing. Munson’s deftly crafted profiles offer a fascinating preview of the coming future of food.
"This book provides hope to an industry and society replete with despair, giving positive perspectives on technological advancements and their potential for social improvement." Donovan's Literary Services
"This is a book we’ve been waiting for, documenting the entrepreneurial creativity now sweeping through our food and farming space. In neat and efficient packages, Munson gives us technically precise descriptions of two-dozen recent innovations, along with vivid cameos of the respective innovators, helping readers catch up instantly with all that’s new. Tech to Table will be an inspiration for values-driven readers who want to dream, think, and act big."
Robert Paarlberg, author of Resetting the Table: Straight Talk About the Food We Grow and Eat
"Tech to Table is a skillful first-hand account which addresses both the challenges facing food and agriculture, as well as the tech-driven transformation that is shaping its renaissance. For readers seeking a conversational and sometimes provocative look at food system innovators, this is a well-curated collection of entrepreneurial insights and experiences."
Seana Day, Partner, Better Food Ventures & Culterra Capital
"Food production is at the heart of humanity's environmental problems and our environmental solutions. Richard Munson skillfully tells the tale of those food sustainability heroes deploying 21st century technology to ensure our continued survival. Their stories in this book give me hope!"
Paul Shapiro, author of Clean Meat: How Growing Meat Without Animals Will Revolutionize Dinner and the World
Introduction. The Rise of Innovators
Part 1. Deliver Proteins Chapter 1. Josh Tetrick, Eat Just—Rethinking the Chicken and the Egg Chapter 2. Uma Valeti, UPSIDE Foods—Avoiding Animal Slaughter Chapter 3. Patrick Brown, Impossible Foods—Making Burgers from Plants Chapter 4. James Corwell, Ocean Hugger Foods—Turning Tomatoes into Tuna Chapter 5. Virginia Emery, Beta Hatch—Farming Insects Chapter 6. Leonard Lerer, Back of the Yards Algae Sciences—Growing Algae and Mycelia
Part 2. Reduce Food Waste Chapter 7. Irving Fain, Bowery Farming—Bringing Crops Closer to Consumers Chapter 8. James Rogers, Jenny Du, and Louis Perez, Apeel Sciences—Coating Foods Chapter 9. Bob Pitzer, Harvest CROO—Picking Strawberries Robotically Chapter 10. Raja Ramachandran, ripe.io—Tracking Food with Blockchain Chapter 11. Lynette Kucsma and Emilio Sepulveda, Foodini—Printing 3D Meals Chapter 12. Daphna Nissenbaum, TIPA—Cutting Plastic Packaging
Part 3. Curtail Poisons Chapter 13. Sébastian Boyer and Thomas Palomares, FarmWise—Plucking Weeds Robotically Chapter 14. Jorge Heraud and Lee Redden, Blue River Technology—Spraying Precisely Chapter 15. Irina Borodina, BioPhero—Messing with Pest Sex
Part 4. Nourish Plants Chapter 16. Diane Wu and Poornima Paramswaran, Trace Genomics—Mapping Soils Chapter 17. Eric Taipale, Sentera—Analyzing Fields from Above Chapter 18. Ron Hovsepian, Indigo Ag—Providing Probiotics to the Soil Chapter 19. Karsten Temme and Alvin Tamsir, Pivot Bio—Feeding Nitrogen to Crop Roots Chapter 20. Tony Alvarez, WaterBit—Watering Precisely
Part 5. Cut Carbon Chapter 21. Rachel Haurwitz, Caribou Biosciences—Editing Genes Chapter 22. Lee DeHaan, The Land Institute—Planting Perennials Chapter 23. Joshua Goldman, Australis Aquaculture—Blocking Burps Chapter 24. Julia Collins, Planet FWD—Creating a Climate-Friendly Food Platform Chapter 25. Stafford Sheehan and Gregory Constantine, Air Company—Cutting Carbon with Vodka Conclusion. Disrupting Farms and Foods
Acknowledgments Notes About the Author Index
Tech to Table: 25 Innovators Reimagining Food at ASU
Tuesday, 14 September 2021 - 12:00pm
Author Richard Munson has worked on clean energy and environmental issues for nonprofits, in the private sector, and on Capitol Hill. Most recently, Munson served as director of the Environmental Defense Fund.
In his new book, Tech to Table, Munson spotlights 25 innovators driving solutions to the biggest problems created by industrialized food. He presents a fascinating preview of the future of food and highlights the stories of the entrepreneurs at the forefront of this revolution. While they come from diverse identities, backgrounds, places, and professions, they all share an outsider’s perspective and ambition to rethink the food system.
Moderated by Kathleen Merrigan, executive director of the Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems.
Ask Me Anything Featuring Richard Munson
Monday, 3 April 2023 - 3:00pm
Please join the University of California, Merced on Monday, 4/3 at 3 PM PT for an AMA with Richard Munson.
Biography: Richard Munson is the author of several books with the most recent being Tech to Table: 25 Innovators Reimagining Food (Island Press 2021). In this book, the reader is introduced to some of the most creative entrepreneurs advancing technological solutions to our industrialized food system. These entrepreneurs come from various places and professions, identities, and backgrounds. But they share an outsider’s perspective and an idealistic, sometimes aggressive, ambition to rethink the food system.
Munson’s other works include Tesla: Inventor of the Modern; a biography of Jacques Cousteau, the undersea explorer and filmmaker; a history of electricity; and a behind-the-scenes look at how congressional appropriators spend taxpayer money. Based near Chicago, he has worked on environmental and clean-energy issues at nonprofits, within universities, in the private sector, and on Capitol Hill.
This virtual event is free and open to the public.