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This past Wednesday in Brooklyn, an AgTech meetup brought together leaders in the organic and sustainable food industry for mindshare, planning… and a very yummy food tasting!

Gotham Green’s vegan pesto and tomato, paired with Kite Hills’s vegan ricotta
Photo: Phyllis Huang for BK Reader

Since the old Pfizer factory building in Bed-Stuy reopened as a food business incubator in 2014, Brooklyn slowly is forging its place as a hub for food innovation. It is, however, but one reflection of a wider interest in the food manufacturing business here in Brooklyn.

Kickstarter, a Brooklyn-based online crowd funding platform for creative projects, has seen “lots of [public] interest in projects that address systematic issues in food, such as food waste, nutrition and sustainability,” said Michael Stewart, the company’s Food and Partnerships Lead.

The Brooklyn Grange, for example, used Kickstarter’s crowdfunding platform in 2010 to scale up its business. It now operates a massive 65,000 square feet farm on top of  Building No.3 inside of the historic Brooklyn Navy Yard. Also, in response to the public’s growing interest in food sustainability, Kickstarter issued a Request for Innovation in its food category last December.

And this past Wednesday, January 31, a meetup group named “AgTech Meetup with AgFunder volunteer-hosted at its Greenpoint headquarters a bevy of up-and-coming manufacturers and developers in the food sustainability industry for mindshare, planning… and a very yummy food tasting!

Sebastien Frin from The Good Spoon Photo: Phyllis Huang for BK Reader Photo: Phyllis Huang for BK Reader

About 150 people attended Wednesday’s event. It started with a networking session for twelve vendors across the country to showcase their latest plant-based products. Gotham Greens in Greenpoint, in partnership with Kite Hill, introduced their ricotta cheese made from almond milk. The Good Spoon, which makes and sells plant-based mayonnaise, recently moved its headquarters to Williamsburg. And Nomad Trading Co., which uses a coffee fruit called cascara to brew tea can be found in Bed-Stuy.

After the networking session, five veterans in the agriculture industry shared their knowledge on data collection, farm monitoring, gene-editing, among other activities.

The Good Spoon traveled 3,625 miles from Paris to New York in 2016 and chose Williamsburg as its new home. According to Sebastien Frin, The Good Spoon’s business developer, the company came to New York after it won The New York-Paris Business Exchange, the first of a larger Global Business Exchange initiative launched by New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) to connect New York City startups with international opportunities.

At this moment, Brooklyn FoodWorks in Bed-Stuy distributes The Good Spoon’s products, They can be found in natural food stores in Clinton Hill, Fort Greene and other neighborhoods at reasonable prices.

“French people are traditional; they would say mayonnaise should be made from eggs,” said Frin. “How can it be otherwise? [But] people here are receptive to our products because of obesity [as a big health concern].”

The Good Spoon’s plant-based mayonnaise contains 60% less fat than regular mayo. “I like Brooklyn but not Manhattan so much,” he said, “It is more like Paris. Investors here are very interested in us and help us to connect with more people.”

The bustling scene on Wednesday was a testament of Brooklyn’s magnetism for the creative and the clean-eating, worldwide.

It was also a clarion call for aspiring entrepreneurs everywhere: If you have a bright mind and even brighter ideas, now is as good a time as any to come to Brooklyn!

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