Audrey and Emily may have met because of business school, but their friendship grew through a mutual interest in food and nutrition. For them, understanding the source of their food products was crucial, even going as far as to order meat shipped all the way from New Zealand. This sparked an interest in how New Zealand had developed a reputation as best-in-class for livestock production. Armed with their own questions, Audrey and Emily traveled to New Zealand to see firsthand how the livestock industry there is driving innovation through sustainable practices. This is their Inspiration Grant story.
Prior to coming to Kellogg, a focus on health and nutrition was something that I was just really personally interested in. Emily and I both have a shared interest in meat as a part of a healthy diet and one that can also be part of our food system in a sustainable way. We just had had a lot of conversations throughout our time as friends and classmates so it just seemed like a really exciting space and also one that we both had had a strong personal interest in.
Audrey really hit the nail on the head there. This is very much a shared passion, a shared love that I think came naturally. Part of the reason why we wanted to go to New Zealand was because, New Zealand is really the golden star when it comes to the way that they treat, raise, and process meat. And so it felt very natural for us to explore this shared passion in that country.
Talking to my parents and my grandparents, I think that there is this misconception both in terms of the health benefits in addition to this like cultural misconception when it comes to organ meat, especially in the United States. For us, we became specifically very interested in, okay, what is organ meat? Why should we be eating organ meat? That too was an area that we really were exploring a little bit more during this trip.
Something that we had a hypothesis about originally was this localized model of, if you can produce and process animals as close to the communities in which you're going to serve that product, the better for environmental emissions reasons not having to ship or transport that meat or livestock. What was really interesting was when we were talking to someone in the corporate headquarters of Alliance Co-op, they were explaining that actually New Zealand is able to produce their meat with low emissions because they use a lot of natural energy sources. He was explaining that even if you factor in the emissions from shipping meat from New Zealand to the United States, it would still be a lower carbon footprint for me to eat that New Zealand lamb than if it were produced right there just because our processes and energy usage in the United States is so much more intensive.
I think something that New Zealand does so well is that every single part of the animal that is slaughtered is used for either human or in some cases animal consumption. When thinking about places to buy my meat from, I am going to be more inclined to purchase meat from a place that I know one, like treats the animals so well throughout the entirety of their lives. And then two, a place that I know, respects the animal in a way where, I know that every single part of that animal is used to supply either humans or another animal in the food chain that we love and care for very dearly. So, I think that's something I will keep with me.
When we saw all of the resources and skills that go into either farming animals or producing them, that's a very capital-intense business. At this point we don't want to directly come in and innovate in that space right away. But, I think we're still very excited about using some of those byproducts to make a consumer product around something that is not traditionally used like the organ meats. So we're excited to continue to explore that in our independent study this quarter.
Audrey and I are doing an independent study through the Entrepreneurship department where we are trying to understand if there is any kind of market opportunity for some foods that use specifically organ meats. Can we use that to make something that is super tasty, but also very nutritious. Would that be something that might be accepted by consumers in the United States?
I think that this will be a space that always requires some level of innovation, whether that be from lab-grown meat or the technology that farmers deploy in order to better manage their animals. Coming out of this trip I want to encourage others: do the research. Understand where your meat is coming from, understand the farmers and the systems that you are supporting via that purchase of meat, to the extent that that is possible. I think to some extent, this is necessary. Humans, yes, we enjoy eating meat, but food allows us to create amazing memories and to have these wonderful connections with one another. So seeing the entire process, including the parts that people oftentimes very much try to stay as far away from, has given me so much of a greater appreciation for the food that ultimately connects us all.
The Levy Inspiration Grant Program is made possible through the generous support of Larry and Carol Levy and is managed by the Entrepreneurship program at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. To learn more about the Levy Inspiration Grant Program and other ways we support student entrepreneurs, visit our website at kellogg.northwestern.edu.