We’re excited to introduce you to our speakers for the 2016 Change Food Fest through a series of personal Q&A’s. Today, we kick off the series by getting to know Eric Kessler of Arabella Advisors.
As founder and senior managing director of Arabella Advisors, Eric Kessler has built a unique consulting firm dedicated to making philanthropy more effective. Now, Eric is leading Arabella’s Good Food practice, which supports philanthropists and impact investors who are pursuing solutions to one of the great challenges of our time: transforming our food system to make delicious, nutritious, sustainably produced food accessible for all. (Learn more about Eric and his work.)
CF: For a non-finance person, can you explain what Arabella Advisors and Good Food Practice do?
Arabella helps philanthropists, foundation leaders, and impact investors maximize the impact of their work. We build strategies that put grant making and investment dollars to work solving our world’s biggest challenges in the most effective way possible. As a firm, we advise on roughly $3 billion a year with the help of our 150+ professional staff across the country.
How does this contribute to changing the food system?
The three biggest hurdles to improving our food system are increasing consumer demand, fixing policies, and enabling a Good Food supply chain. None of these are possible without more and better resources, and Arabella stands at the center of helping to make that happen.
What will your talk focus on?
My talk will focus primarily on the Good Food supply chain and the gaps we see that need to be filled with greater innovation and increased investment capital.
Why is this important?
A Good Food supply chain is one of the three key ingredients for a better food system.
Name 1 project, person or company that you feel is changing food and/or the food system – and why.
Michel Nischan, who I refer to as my rabbi in the food sector, has been a cutting-edge leader in policy advocacy, supply chain development, and cultural change toward Good Food for decades. He has been, and continues to be, one to watch.
If you could do one thing to change food and/or the food system, what would it be?
Rally mass amounts of new investment capital to support the pipeline of sharp ideas that could address the most intractable food system challenges.
In the past couple of years, there’s been an explosion of food startups and an enormous amount of money – billions of dollars – pumped into food. Do you have any thoughts about the potential impact this will have on our food system?
There will be successes and failures, but overall, the level of innovation is astounding. It is putting all eyes on food. The pressure to find—and finance—solutions has never been greater.
What are 3 things an average person can do on an individual level to help change the food system?
- Vote with your wallet: buy the food that supports a Good Food system.
- Vote with your ballot: the best way to fix food policies is to put policymakers in office who care about Good Food.
- Be a voice for Good Food: engage in policy advocacy and encourage policymakers to support Good Food.
Are there other projects you’re also passionate about right now – either yours or someone else’s?
I am digging into identifying federal policies that, if passed, reformed, or repealed, can increase Good Food supply while also creating new jobs and growing the economy—an argument that even the most conservative interests have a hard time backing away from. That and my two backyard hens, Robert and Quincy.
Where can we find more information about your work?
Stay tuned for spotlights on our other speakers, coming soon!
The Change Food Fest “Growing the Good Food Movement” will take place in New York City on November 12 and 13, 2016. We will explore and celebrate change happening in the food system. Rather than simply talk about problems, we will actively look at solutions that are leading us to the sustainable food system we wish to see. Our focus will be on both real and visionary change and will include an exploration into seafood, plant based vs meat diets, possible impacts of new businesses and investment money coming into the food space – and much more. Join us! You can purchase a ticket or host a viewing party of the live webcast in your local community.