The food industry is one of America's biggest sources of emissions. That's why some greentech insiders think food's the next frontier for innovators in Silicon Valley. One such person is Benzi Ronen, who co-founded Farmigo in 2009. It's a Palo Alto-based start-up that provides an Internet platform for farmers and CSA members. He took a few minutes to answer questions:
Q: How did you come up with the idea for Farmigo?
A: Agriculture is the number-one climate hazard that we have. The healthcare costs associated with food-related diseases in the U.S. is more than $150 billion per year. That includes obesity and diabetes. Some estimate it will double over the next 10 years. These are real issues.
The ability to buy directly from the farmer solves all of this. It gives us fresher food and changes our diet. It's better for the environment. It eliminates food miles. As long as we can scale this model and do it as convenient, if not more, as going into your supermarket, then we can achieve a better alternative food system.
Q: What's the future of food and greentech?
A: The food industry has lacked innovative software solutions. There's a perfect storm happening right now with people wanting to eat healthier and locally and the maturity of the Internet. There's a growing trend of farmers' markets and CSAs out there. A lot of that is a result of Food Inc. and various books. The awareness is already happening. We think we can be a catalyst in making it happen faster. And there will be more start-ups that address the food industry and revolutionize it.