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Market Perspectives: Cultivating the Future with Alison Rabschnuk

Alison Rabschnuk, a veteran in the alternative protein space and now at the helm of business development at Freight Farms, is guiding efforts to integrate food science with sustainable agriculture. Freight Farms, a pioneering company that builds farms out of converted shipping containers, is shaping a healthier and more sustainable food system. In this series, we explore advancements in produce-growing technology and connect these efforts to the ongoing developments in the plant-based food space.

Freight Farms’ Mission

Freight Farms’ approach addresses multiple United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), starting with the urgent issues of land use, biodiversity loss, and water scarcity. Rabschnuk explains, “Our hydroponic technology significantly conserves space and resources. Each Freight Farm occupies only 320 square feet, produces the yield of 2-3 acres of land, and utilizes a mere five gallons of water per day.” This efficient use of resources not only makes agricultural production feasible in extreme climates but also brings food production closer to consumers, drastically reducing food miles and associated carbon emissions.

The resilience of Freight Farms’ technology allows it to operate in temperatures ranging from -40°F to 120°F. “This capability,” Rabschnuk notes, “is crucial for providing agricultural solutions in regions with nonarable land or harsh growing conditions.” By decentralizing food production, Freight Farms empowers urban and suburban communities, particularly food deserts, to cultivate their own fresh produce, enhancing local food security and improving health outcomes.

Next Generation Farming

Beyond environmental sustainability, Freight Farms is also committed to cultivating the next generation of farmers. “The average age of a U.S. farmer is 58, raising concerns about the future of our food supply,” says Rabschnuk. “Our farms attract younger demographics by merging traditional farming with cutting-edge technology.” Educational institutions and youth organizations utilize these farms to train students and young adults, providing hands-on experience in sustainable farming practices.

Connecting Produce-Growing and Alt Protein

Reflecting on her diverse career experiences, from the Good Food Institute to Kerry, and now Freight Farms, Rabschnuk finds common threads. “At first I saw my current role to be quite distinct from those I held in the alternative protein sector, at the Good Food Insitute and Kerry, but over time I’ve come to see some overlap. Besides the obvious connection of our technology increasing access to plant-based food, our Freight Farms can also be an interim solution for farmers looking to transition away from animal agriculture into a more ethical industry without sacrificing profitability,” she shares.

Looking forward, Rabschnuk is optimistic about the scalability and impact of Freight Farms. “With the mobility of our farms, our vision is to enhance global access to fresh produce, secure food supplies, and foster education and employment.”

“We have many institutional customers in the education sector, hospitality, and healthcare and we work with many kinds of nonprofits as well. There are endless opportunities!”

Engage with Alison Rabschnuk

Alison’s work allows us to imagine a world where fresh produce is grown and available everywhere, to be used as an abundant food source and a wholesome ingredient for continued plant-based product innovation.

Is there is a question or topic you would like to see covered in this series? Email [email protected] with subject line “Market Perspectives”.

About Plant Based World Pulse
Plant Based World Pulse is a go-to resource for the plant-based industry. Offering high-value insights, educational content, and the latest information year-round, it compliments the annual industry events Plant Based World Expo North America in New York City and Plant Based World Expo Europe in London.

Market Perspectives: Food is Love with Chef Palak Patel

In the ever-evolving world of culinary arts, Chef Palak Patel’s voice stands out as exceptionally compelling and authentic. Her journey, from the bustling kitchen of Dash & Chutney in Atlanta to the quiet introspection of writing her cookbook, encapsulates a profound lesson in resilience, adaptability, and the emotive power of food.

Lessons from Restaurant Ownership

Reflecting on her experiences, Patel shares, “One lesson that continues to inspire my journey moving forward from my time running a restaurant is the importance of resilience and adaptability.” Her tenure at Dash & Chutney was a masterclass in navigating the unpredictable tides of the restaurant industry, from “unexpected supply chain disruptions, fluctuations in customer demand, or navigating through unforeseen crises…” This resilience, she notes, was foundational, teaching her the critical importance of staying flexible and resilient in the face of adversity.

“I learned that during challenging times, my ability to remain calm, communicate transparently with my team, and make tough decisions while prioritizing my well-being was key. I now employ that adaptability, and my experience in the restaurant business to inspire and guide me on my journey forward, no matter what challenges or opportunities lie ahead.”

A New Cookbook

As Patel transitions from restaurant ownership to authorship, her forthcoming cookbook, “Food Is Love: Indian-Inspired, Plant-based Recipes to Feel Joy and Connection,” promises to be a mosaic of culinary traditions, personal anecdotes, and the universal language of food. “I’m thrilled about my new cookbook,” Patel expresses, aiming to reach “a wide range of audiences because, at its core, it’s describing our collective relationship to food.”

The Link: Food and Emotion

At the heart of “Food Is Love” lies the theme of emotion, a deliberate choice by Patel to weave the fabric of human experience through her culinary narrative. “This cookbook is not just about creating recipes; it’s a journey through my past, designed to evoke the most cherished food memories of my life,” she explains.

“Food has a unique power to transport us back to moments of joy, comfort, and connection. Whether it’s the aroma of freshly baked bread that reminds us of our grandmother’s kitchen or the taste of a favorite childhood dish that brings back memories of family gatherings, each recipe in this book is carefully crafted to help you relive those special moments.”

The book features a collection of recipes inspired by a diverse range of culinary traditions and personal anecdotes, encouraging readers to embrace the nostalgia of their food memories and create new ones to cherish for years to come.

“From comforting classics to inventive twists on old favorites, every dish is an invitation to celebrate the richness of our culinary heritage and the joy of sharing meals with loved ones. So, whether people are flipping through these pages for inspiration in the kitchen or simply looking to reconnect with the flavors of their past, “Food Is Love” is going to take them on a delicious trip down memory lane.”

A Journey of Silence

Patel also shared that she recently embarked on a 10-day Vipassana silent meditation retreat and encapsulated it as “Insightful, transformative, introspective, disciplined and profound.” This reflection hints at the depth of her experiences and the introspective journey that continues to shape her culinary and personal narrative as she leaps into her next chapter.

Engage with Chef Palak Patel

Chef Palak Patel’s story is one of continual growth, learning, and an unwavering commitment to connecting with others through the universal language of food. The fruits of her journey are relevant to chefs of all shapes and sizes, from professionals to everyday home cooks. Stay tuned as we dive deeper into these powerfully connected threads as we continue our dialogue with Chef Palak.

Is there is a question or topic you would like to see covered in this series? Email [email protected] with subject line “Market Perspectives”.

About Plant Based World Pulse
Plant Based World Pulse is a go-to resource for the plant-based industry. Offering high-value insights, educational content, and the latest information year-round, it compliments the annual industry events Plant Based World Expo North America in New York City and Plant Based World Expo Europe in London.

Bridging Culinary Traditions with Chef James Corwell (Part 1)

Chef James Corwell, a certified master chef and a pioneering advocate for plant-based cuisine, offers profound insight into the intersection of culinary history, ethical food practices, and the future of gastronomy. Drawing from a deep understanding of the culinary traditions once reserved for royalty, Corwell’s reflections on food history serve as a guiding light for today’s chefs and restaurants navigating the complexities of modern consumer preferences and sustainable practices.

Modern Ethical Considerations

“Drawing inspiration from the historical opulence of dining, once reserved for kings and queens, profoundly influences my journey as a certified master chef,” Corwell notes. “Understanding the rich history of grand cuisine and its evolution is crucial, as it informs our approach to food in both preparation and ethical considerations. The journey of grand cuisine, once the exclusive domain of the aristocracy, underscores how certain foods symbolized status and luxury, accessible only to the wealthy.”

He emphasizes how the Industrial Revolution democratized access to foods that symbolized status and luxury, albeit at a cost. The efficiency of animal farming, while revolutionary, led to a disconnect from the origins of our food, underscoring the need for a return to ethical treatment of animals and the environment. “The modern disconnection from our food’s origins has led to practices that often neglect animal welfare, sustainable agriculture, and our health,” Corwell explains, advocating for a culinary approach that honors our past while fostering a prosperous future.

The Plant-Forward Movement Among Master Chefs

Corwell’s transition to a fully plant-based culinary philosophy marks a significant shift in the traditionally meat-centric culinary world.

He observes a growing acceptance among his peers: “I’m pleased to say that, indeed, many of us CMCs have embraced the idea of a plant-forward approach. However, changing habits is challenging for most, including the members of the master chef guild (AMCO). I anticipate that as a newer, younger wave of chefs enters the guild, there will be a more proactive embrace of plant-forward diets. I hope that this shift will also extend to attracting greater support and representation from ingredient boards and councils that advocate for plant-based commodities. Ultimately, we aim to champion the evolving landscape of food and its significance for our future.”

Resources for Today’s Culinary Professionals

Corwell exudes passion when it comes to the changes he anticipates on the horizon.

“Chef’s and society need to be on the same page. Right now I would argue that there is a class divide between those who can afford healthy plant-forward meals and those who can’t.  Here, government and industry interaction would help greatly by simply reallocating farming subsidies to crops that feed people and not just animals. Then we could provide more cost-effective plant-forward meals to households in need of better nutrition.”

Elaborating on the further need for a bottom-up approach, Corwell remarks on the role of food producers in meeting the needs of eaters in this new food system.

“Food manufacturing must continue innovating amazing center-of-the-plate plant proteins, accompaniments and sauces for chefs to create with and pass along to their customers.

Finally, chefs need to be leaders and take a firm stance on serving quality, affordable meals that fit squarely into a matrix of health, sustainability and local production.”

Engage with Chef James Corwell

Chef Corwell’s insights offer a compelling vision for the future of food, where historical awareness, ethical practices, and culinary innovation converge. We will dive deeper into these areas of discussion in future articles. If you have a specific question or topic you would like to be covered in this series, send an email to [email protected] with the subject line “Market Perspectives”.