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A Star Silicon Valley Investor Puts His Money Where His Mouth is for Sustainable Ag

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Farm Issues page, Politics and Democracy page, Breaking the Chains page, and our All About Organics page.


As antidote to those who argue that the future of food is all about technologies like genetic engineering and new pesticides, I refer you to entrepreneur Ali Partovi (full disclosure: Ali and I are acquaintances) who has an Earth Day post over at Silicon Valley's Techcrunch, one of the most influential tech-entrepreneur blogs around. Partovi, a former Microsoftie, is a cofounder of the music recommendation service iLike and was an early-stage investor in such online successess as Zappos, Dropbox, and that social network site a few folks use, Facebook. And now, as evidenced by the title of his post -- "Food Is The New Frontier In Green Tech" -- he's discovered the investment possibilities of food:

 As an Internet entrepreneur and investor, my interest in food and agriculture began at home, taking care of my body and my kids. In 2008, my wife and I decided to adopt a healthier and more sustainable diet for our family. We switched to exclusively grass-fed meat and ate a bit less meat altogether, added more vegetables, and began raising egg-laying chickens in our backyard. That enabled our seven-year-old daughter to run a startup selling our egg surplus.

 I was pleased to lose about 35 pounds within six months. But I was also surprised to find how inconvenient, obfuscated, and expensive it was simply to eat healthful, natural foods. I began studying the business and politics of food, convinced there must be investment opportunities that align with improving the system. Surely, I thought, there must be healthful, sustainable, yet scalable and profitable alternatives to our unsustainable food and agriculture sectors.