The food system is set up to keep consumers purchasing in a way that perpetuates inequality. Today we speak to Kim Bryden, Founder, and CEO of Cureate, about how she is trying to change this by creating an empowered supply chain through food. Cureate is a woman-owned business that exists to shift dollars back into local communities by building a supply to meet changing consumer demand. They do this by helping entrepreneurs start successful, ethical food businesses and then connecting them to big city governments and organizations with demand as well as purchasing power.
Our conversation starts with Kim sharing her views on some of the causes of inequality where she highlights a broken food system that self-perpetuates to keep those with capital in power. From there, we talk about how Kim got the idea to start Cureate. She talks about how she merged her belief in art as a vehicle for change with her knowledge of the impact the food system can make on people’s lives. She gives us an overview of how her career was driven by her values rather than job stability before starting Cureate, and how she learned about small businesses and the broken food system along the way. Next, we take a deeper dive into the services that Cureate offers and how Kim would completely restructure the U.S. food system and make it more accountable if she could. For all this and more about fighting for equality by tweaking our systems for procurement, be sure to check out the full episode at one of the below links.
Key Points From This Episode
To Kim, communities are disempowered for three reasons:
1) The global “efficient supply chain” that devalues labor and cares very little about the environmental impact
2) Little public understanding of how to scale up backyard manufacturing and processing in the midst of a pandemic
3) Money is pulled out of our communities and put into the hands of a few, creating more power and wealth imbalance
The food system is a powerful economic engine. It is a massive component of our GDP. You can create economic opportunities for people through this system.
The three services Cureate offers are education, partnerships, and consulting. Kim has designed a set of courses for food and beverage entrepreneurs that are looking to start a business. From there, she identifies opportunities for institutions and big businesses to shift their money back into small businesses that have graduated from her program. Lastly, she partners with big-city governments and businesses in order to help them invest in more economic development opportunities for everyone.
While it is important for individual consumers to ‘shop their values’ and to vote with their dollar, the big systemic change will happen when large institutional purchasers start purchasing from local producers.
The food system is set up in a way that keeps buyers purchasing from large companies. They have the capital to subsidize their operations so that their products are the cheapest. Products are bought because of price and not so much because of the ethics of their production. This is something Kim is trying to change.
“People in positions of purchasing power don’t live where they work. They don’t know what’s in their backyard of what’s being produced and what is possible.” — @kimbryden [0:12:01]
“We’re supply and demand matchmaking here and you have to have that empowered supply that’s ready to fulfill the demand side in order for it to work.” — @kimbryden [0:14:38]
“There’s no other place for me to tell you any attribute about a product, other than its unit cost. Unfortunately, a lot of systems and purchasing is set up on this lowest bidder system as opposed to values-based procurement.” — @kimbryden [0:29:09]
“Ultimately, people change their behaviors based on if they feel they’re losing customers. How to rally customers and constituents around a movement is something I think about a great deal.” — @kimbryden [0:41:25]