Ten Questions with Nick Papadopoulos, CEO and Co-Founder of CropMobster

From foodtank.com by Kate Reed
Ten Questions with Nick Papadopoulos, CEO and Co-Founder of CropMobster

Food Tank, in partnership with the Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau, Farm-to-Fork Program, and University of California, Davis, is excited to announce the 1st annual Farm Tank Conference at the Hyatt Regency Sacramento on September 22–23, 2016. This two-day event will feature more than 35 different speakers from the food and agriculture field. Researchers, farmers, chefs, policymakers, government officials, and students will come together for interactive panels.

The event will feature interactive panels moderated by top food journalists, networking, and delicious food, followed by a day of hands-on activities and opportunities for attendees.

Food Tank recently had the opportunity to speak with Nick Papadopoulos, CEO and Co-Founder of CropMobster, who will be speaking at the summit.

Food Tank (FT): What inspired you to get involved in food and agriculture?

Nick Papadopoulos (NP): Prior to launching CropMobster, I had a great number of experiences that eventually mixed together as inspiration for my work in food and agriculture. First of all, my dad was a dumpster diver with a regular route in the back alley of a local supermarket. I also grew up with major stockpiles of TAB soda pop, Grape-Nuts, and packaged ramen noodles in the house. As a result, I’ve always wondered about the food we eat, where it comes from, and how it’s produced.

Later, in my early 20s, I had an invaluable experience of working in the permaculture profession and had a “fly on the wall” experience taking notes and helping facilitate contentious meetings and conflicts on agriculture, water, and environmental topics. These experiences transformed how I think about interconnected systems like food and agriculture as well as human relationships.

Then, after more than a decade in the management consulting business, my wife’s parents needed help running their farm and CSA business. We moved into a turkey barn, and at that point, we were up to our necks in food deliveries, farm financial statements, and chicken manure.

FT: What do you see as the biggest opportunity to fix the food system?

NP: I think it’s about inspiring folks to “get back to basics” in a few areas. 

It’s about growing and sharing more of our own food and supplies and using everyday transactions and exchanges to strengthen community bonds, trust, and relationships.

Also, we need a continued reawakening of civic participation and engagement in political discourse in general. This overall awakening will no-doubt help improve our food system.

FT: What innovations in agriculture and the food system are you most excited about?

NP: There are so many seeds of innovation being planted right now! I think this flurry of innovation and seed planting is what excites me the most. It is tremendously exciting to be a part of a massive herd of talented and passionate people who are choosing to innovate in food and agriculture and other areas which resonate with their core values.

FT: Can you share a story about a food hero that inspired you?

NP: Mike Collins, my father-in-law, is a brilliant freak of nature as a farmer and sustainability thinker. He is a rare combination of Elon Musk, Luther Burbank, and “The Dude” from the Big Lebowski.

On a daily basis, he’s figuring out how to extract a tractor from five feet of mud, making concoctions of fertilizers, explaining the genetic history of potatoes, and then cooking the ugliest yet most flavorful and nutritious food I’ve ever eaten. And what’s so great about Mike is that in a language all his own he freely shares his knowledge and experience with anyone who shows an interest.

It’s hard to share one story about Mike. You’re just gonna have to look him up for yourselves and experience the real deal.

FT: What drives you every day to fight for the bettering of our food system?

NP: I feel so grateful to have a job helping forge and renew food relationships between people and to play a small role in facilitating authentic and everyday food system exchanges.

The fact that communities like Sacramento and organizations like Valley Vision trust us with something as important as the relationships in their local food system is one of the greatest honors I can think of, and we never take that for granted.

This truly is a dream job that gets me out of bed excited each day and, because of the people I’ve come across and actions I have witnessed, I’m a believer in the betterment of our food system.

FT: What’s the biggest problem within the food system our parents and grandparents didn't have to deal with?

NP: Climate change and Pokémon Go.

FT: What’s the first, most pressing issue you’d like to see solved within the food system?

NP: The fact that nearly half of the food produced in the world goes to waste.

FT: What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?

NP: Really look at what’s going on in your garbage can. Think about what you see. Then, if needed, change your habits and do the right thing. Consume less in the first place then make better choices with the byproducts of your consumption.

FT: What’s one issue within the food system you’d like to see completely solved for the next generation?

NP: The fact that nearly half of the food produced in the world goes to waste.

FT: What agricultural issue would you like for the next president of the United States to immediately address?

NP: For her first year in office, it should be food waste. Food waste is the low hanging fruit that can help her gain some momentum and rare bipartisanship traction across the aisle.


Buy your tickets today—we're offering $50 off in August, use "Save50" at checkout. 

To find out more about the event, see the full list of speakers, and purchase tickets, please click HERE. Interested participants who cannot join can also sign up for the live-stream HERE.

To join us at Food Tank's São Paulo, Brazil, Summit in October 2016, please click HERE. To join us at Food Tank's Chicago, IL, Summit November 16, 2016, please click HERE.

Want to become a sponsor of the Food Tank Summit? Please click HERE

Want to suggest a speaker for one of the Summits? Please click HERE

Want to watch videos from previous Food Tank Summits? Please click HERE

Sponsors for this year's Food Tank Summit in Sacramento include: Almond Board of California, Annie’s Inc., Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition, Blue Apron, Clif Bar & Company, Driscoll's, Fair Trade USA, Farmer’s Fridge, Food and Environment Reporting Network, Inter Press Service (IPS), Niman Ranch, Organic Valley, and VegFund. More to be announced soon.

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