From tech startups to a taste for veggies, millennials have become a key force in the drive to improve the food system. Below, three ways millennials are changing the food system for the better:
1. They’re tackling food waste. Millennials are aware of the huge amount of waste plaguing our food system–and they’re trying to do something about it. Millennials have created a slew of food waste-fighting startups, as well as non-profit organizations like the Food Recovery Network, which salvages perishable foods at universities across the country. Most recently, college students teamed up at Milan’s Expo 2015 to create ingenious ways to fight food waste. From a shopping list app which recommends recipes designed to use up near-expiration ingredients to a low-tech refrigerator aimed at transporting food in developing countries, these students understand that food waste is a global problem in need of global solutions.
2. Much to the chagrin of Big Food stalwarts like Coca-Cola and McDonalds, millennials are demanding healthier, more sustainable food, and they’re willing to pay a premium for it. As a result, fast-casual options that offer higher-quality (and lower-impact) food, like Sweetgreen and Dig Inn, as well as companies that offer plant-based alternatives to animal products (like Hampton Creek), have racked up in global investment. Meanwhile, millennials are committed to finding the best food for their budget while simultaneously expanding access to better-quality food. Their focus on quality and affordable foods has forced the market to respond, as evidenced by Whole Foods’ decision to open a cheaper line geared towards snake people, and the success of startups like Nextdoorganics, which creates affordable CSA-style boxes sourced from sustainable, local farms and producers.
3. They’re using tech to build food system infrastructure. Look no further than Food+Tech Connect, a platform created vt Danielle Gould to explore how “data and technology [can] improve the food system.” Food+Tech Connect runs a blog, has a presence on every social media network you can think of, and even hosts events and classes to spread the word about foodtech innovations. From FarmersWeb, a platform that connects farmers to chefs and purchasing managers, to the food waste oriented PareUp app, which connects consumers to food that would otherwise be thrown away, millennials are using tech to create a new global food system that prioritizes health, equity, and environmental sustainability.