Blue Hill and Blue Hill at
What he’s known for
Barber has created a sustainable agriculture program in the Hudson River
Valley—north of New York
City—that’s informed his
creative American cooking, earning him a seat at
the table in the national
conversation around the
future of food systems.
In Wasted!, a feature
documentary about food
waste released in October, Barber showcases
his inventive uses for the
o;en-discarded parts of
vegetables, such as broccoli stems and leaves.
Cofounder, The Kitchen
What he’s known for
In the 1990s, Musk sold
a tech startup that he
cofounded with his
brother, Elon, for more
than $300 million. Now a
restaurateur, he uses his
Next Door, and Hedge
Row—to promote healthy
food. The restaurants
also help support his philanthropic work building
educational gardens for
Next Door, Musk’s casual-dining concept, is expanding rapidly. There are
now seven locations—in
Colorado, Indiana, and
Tennessee—with plans to
add another 50 by 2020.
KM: They do in our restaurants, but what we
have learned is that people still want a salad in
January. We get [greens] shipped in from California or even Australia, which is so crazy. If an
indoor farmer can grow arugula in January, we
would rather support this person than bring it
in from a few thousand miles away.
DB: But wouldn’t you rather convince people
not to eat salad in January? I mean that seriously. The culture has shifted. A preponderance
of people do not want the tomato or raspberry
you can get in January. Wouldn’t you like to help
make that happen with salad greens?
KM: At our more upscale restaurant, the
Kitchen, we hope to hold a candle to Blue Hill
[in seasonality]. At our Next Door restaurants,
which are designed to be more affordable, you
have to baby-step [those customers] into real
food. They’re used to eating cheeseburgers
all the time, and we want people to eat more
healthily and more sustainably. That does mean
a salad in January. I would love to pretend that
isn’t the case, but it is.
DB: If I’m an investor, I hear what you’re saying. The idea of growing all of our salad needs
across the street in a tower is intoxicating. But
if I project forward a decade, I’d rather change
that culture. The food culture in America is
quite pliable. You wouldn’t be bringing up kale
five years ago. Greek yogurt. Sushi. We take on
new stuff with dizzying speed.
KM: The money is going to indoor because,
from an investor’s perspective, someone who
wants to live on a 20-acre farm can make a nice
life, but there’s no business there.
Kimbal, you’re an amazing fundraiser. How
would you solve Dan’s problem?
KM: I go to the Iowa farm conference every
year to meet with these farmers, and 56% of
land there is owned by people 65 years or older.
When these lovely folks pass on, someone’s going to buy their land. This is trillions of dollars
worth of land being used for corn ethanol, a
terrible unprofitable use. Their kids don’t want
it. Their grandkids don’t even want it; [they’re]
in their forties. You’re talking about the great-grandkids who might take it over. It’ll be the
most extraordinary transfer of land to the
youngest generation. I go there every year and
spend two days listening to them complain.
If you’re 25 years old and you get 100 acres of
land in Iowa, you’ll make $21,000 a year if you
are lucky. You should come with me to the conferences, because when the right time comes,
we’re going to find out what to do with this
land. And you’re talking about millions of acres.
D B : But we already know what the right thing to
do is. “Give us the market and we’ll grow whatever you want.” I have heard that from the most
conservative old [farmers] and the young folks.
It rests on our shoulders to create that change.
Musk, left, sees potential
in indoor farming.
Barber advocates for