The Future of Food Needs Your Grandma
When I was a teenager in the 90’s, the future of food seemed obvious. America’s health was in pretty bad shape, and the only answer to the crisis: more nutrients. Whole foods like blueberries and eggs were being pushed off shelves by their more sophisticated cousins — antioxidant pills and protein bars. All signs pointed to a single outcome, one that relegated ‘food’ as old-fashioned and out of touch. It’s hard to imagine poor old plain food could ever hold its own in the ring with test-tube raised super tonics.
But there is an alternative food future. And it’s one we’re fighting for at Dig Inn. We believe dining like our terribly archaic grandparents did — on an array of real ‘food,’ mostly vegetables, made from scratch — is the way forward. Each day at Dig Inn, we’re faced with a seemingly incongruous challenge. How do we implement technology that encourages as much regression, as it does progression?
Adopting holistic software systems is the only way we can ensure a significant impact on the food system. By weaving innovative tech into everything we do — from accounting and data analytics, to people management, and forecasting — we’re able to maximize our efficiency and invest meaningfully. Streamlining these processes, particularly in our supply chain, means we’re able to provide greater access to healthy vegetable-forward food, and spend more on our people and partners.
In our restaurants, we serve seasonal American food, sourced from over 30 farmers and partners as close to home as possible. The depth and breadth of our relationships grows with each season that passes. Now more than ever, our menus are being designed around genuine conversations with our farmers.The paradox is: These old school human relationships, that were once central to running a business, are actually enabled by technology.
Forecasting, menu performance analytics and planning, and inventory management tools help us accurately predict our needs, and the needs of our partners, to develop mutually beneficial menus. Weather and environmental tools help our purchasing team inform the R&D process: We can accurately convey our needs to producers, and in turn, they can account for us in their crop planning. Our sourcing model relies on an open exchange of information — about volume, supply, quality, timing, and logistics. By mitigating distribution associated risks, our farmers have constant business, and we have a secure supply.
Less time spent crunching numbers also gives us more time in the field helping our farmers sustainably scale their operations. Multi-tier technology can overcome some key challenges of traditional farming — like harsh weather conditions, seasonality, retail and distribution, and predictability. By combining proven agricultural methods, relying on photosynthesis and crop diversity, with innovations in farm design, costs of production can be dramatically lowered. Conversely, the outcome is a greater profit margin for farmers, and increased access to healthy, safe, and sufficient food for our consumers.
From paddock to plate, our ‘old-fashioned’ business model hinges on modern technology. And if that means we’re sitting at the table with your grandma, that’s fine by us.