Fresh City Farms’ Ran Goel on Making a Positive Impact in the Food and Beverage Processing Industry

Ran Goel’s path into the food and beverage industry is an unorthodox one.

He went to school in Toronto to become a lawyer and later became a hedge-fund lawyer in New York. Goel practiced law during the height of the 2008 financial crisis, which opened his eyes to what can happen when systems break down. Long-held assumptions about the world fell apart before his eyes, changing his views forever.

This instability only increased his sense of wanting to do something with his career that had a purpose. During this time, he started reading a book about food – Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma.

This book opened his eyes.

“I started thinking about different businesses that I could start that were so-called triple bottom line which means: people, profit, planet,” said Goel, in a recent episode of the FoodGrads podcast. “You’re not just looking to make a profit but looking to have other beneficial impacts.”

Starting a social enterprise in food and beverage processing

The dots started to come together for Goel.

At the time, he knew generally that some foods were healthier than others, but he never really thought about the implications that every bite could have. What he learned simultaneously shocked him and gave him hope about our world’s food systems.

“It kind of gave me hope that a lot of these issues could be solved and so I just started thinking about it,” said Goel. “I was going to start a social enterprise or a values-based business I wanted it to be in food and I became obsessed with this idea that urban farming was an important way to really get people thinking about food, and I think it goes to the heart of what I think is the issue with our food.”

The rest is now history.

Today Ran is the CEO of Fresh City Farms, an urban farm, processor, distributor, and retailer of farm-fresh organic and local food. They operate under the Fresh City, Mama Earth, Mabel’s Bakery and The Healthy Butcher brands. Fresh City Farms works directly with dozens of Ontario farms and operates one of Canada’s largest organic-focused kitchens.

Fresh City Farms helps to deliver farm fresh, local, organic produce bags and meals along with hundreds of grocery items.

How to make a positive impact in the food and beverage industry

For those who looking to make a positive impact in the food and beverage sector, Goel says there are many ways one can help, and not all of them involve starting a business.

“My overall message would be just entering the arena and do something. Don’t beat yourself up about not being able to do everything ultimately,” he said. “Shop at a place like Fresh City, obviously, a very self-serving statement but do try to support more sustainable ways of farming and production.”

Goel believes that there is too much of a focus on what an individual can do versus the impact you can have on your community. Things you can try to make positive changes in your local food system:

  • If you are a university or college student, ask who has the contracts for various food service outlets in your university or your college.
  • Cast a ballot in municipal, provincial or federal elections.
  • Ask your company where they are sourcing food from when they bring in catering.

 “The key is just to do something, to be honest with yourself,” said Goel. “And then, maybe that step turns into three more steps a year or two or maybe it doesn’t, but at least you’ve moved the ball forward on, on something and that’s really good.”

Want to learn more about Goel’s story and the importance of creating a sustainable food system? Listen to the full episode of the FoodGrads podcast below:

The FoodGrads Podcast has over 60 episodes where host Veronica Hislop interviews insights from professionals at all stages in their careers.  

From Food Scientists to Farmers, Chefs to the Plant, QA Technicians to Dietitians, R&D to Sales, no matter what your passion–there’s something for everyone in food.

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