Kass, White House chef and senior policy adviser for nutrition in the Obama administration, was a keynote speaker at this year’s Ag Bioscience Innovation Summit. He is now a partner at Acre Venture Partners.
Kass shared his thoughts on a variety of food-related topics. Here are a few takeaways from his conversation:
On Investing In Ag Biosciences
“Now is the right time to be investing in the right entrepreneurs in the right place, people who actually know about agriculture and food. To try and really start making a lot of progress. We’re going to have to.”
“There is a lot of debate around technology. Is it good, is it bad? I think that’s the wrong framework. We’re talking about tools. New ways of operating, new tools to bring to the market.”
On Being The White House Chef
“No matter where (President Barack Obama) was, unless he was on the West Coast or overseas, they had dinner as a family every single night at 6:30, which was a pretty profound thing to watch. To see people so busy, but they would stop (and eat together).”
On Food Policy
“Policy has a role in how we eat and we produce our food. I would argue it’s an important role. The thing that I really learned is how minimal that role ultimately is. Food and agriculture is a private sector endeavor. The government directly feeds very few people. They directly feed through school nutrition, and the military purchases a ton of food. But after that, it actually has a relatively small role.
“Businesses are driving what we’re eating. In the end, what really shapes these decisions way more than policy is our culture and the things that we value.
“I think policy has an important role, but it’s not going to be the driver of change.”
On Nutrition During His Time At The White House
“Kids see 5,000 ads for junk food every year, and 100 for fruits, vegetables, whole grains and water. That’s the disparity… We needed a little more love when it came to vegetables. So, that’s what we tried to do.”