Kimbal Musk Says 'Food Is the New Internet'
"Can real food feed the world?" That's the question Craig Ferguson and, in her screen debut, his wife Megan Ferguson set out to answer in the premiere of their new web show Couple Thinkers. And to find out, they enlist the aid of a Musk.
Kimbal Musk (brother of Elon), co-founded The Kitchen Community, a nonprofit that builds "Learning Gardens" in schools designed to teach kids about the value of fresh fruits and vegetables in places like L.A.'s Watts neighborhood, where he meets the hosts. In Watts, Musk explains, hard soil makes it difficult to grow anything, so the gardens are made up of modular, raised beds that kids can lay out "like Lego blocks."
Musk says the kids are involved in every step, which are meant to teach kids to recognize the flavor and nourishment of fresh produce over those of industrial, processed foods. He believes that once they get a taste, they'll grow up and create demand, "so that grocery stores can start bringing fresh food back." When he recounts how excited kids get when they can finally pick and eat the food they've been growing for month, the Craig half of the Ferguson couple points out that "the fact that you can make anyone on earth excited about swiss chard" is a "miracle."
Changing the global food system, however, will require a lot more than increased swiss chard fandom. Later in the episode, Musk clarifies what he means by "industrial food," which is "food that is optimized for scale and calories, using fossil fuels." He believes that the market has pushed things too far in the direction of cheaper food that's higher in calories, but less healthy, and wants to push back in the other direction.
Since he's "not a big government guy," Musk looks at the field of food as a field to be driven by business. "Food is the new internet," he tells the Fergusons outside a school to conclude the episode, hoping that startups will use "innovation" to bring about change. He also mentions that, like Tesla's cars, the better product offered by "real food" will have to eventually become cheaper, though he doesn't dive into much detail on how. Which is unfortunate, since, for the one in six American children that live in poverty, cost is certainly a bigger obstacle than taste.