In this weeks Food Makers & Changers Interview, we get to know Ran Goel of Fresh City Farms!
Ran is the founder of Fresh City. He believes city farming can change the world by re-introducing all of us to how real food is made. Some of his formative childhood experiences include his grandmother’s stories about growing up on a Kibbutz, feeling democracy awaken in his childhood home of South Africa and his mom’s stuffed peppers. Before founding Fresh City, Ran practiced investment law in New York City for several years.
What is one change you’d like to see happen within the food system and why?
We need a stronger culture around food in Ontario. That is, seeing food as something more than just sustenance, as something almost sacred. I think a lot of good will flow from that: more protection of farm land, people willing to spend more to get quality, more opportunities for related income for farmers (e.g. tours, bed and breakfasts etc.) and more local farming.
What has been your most meaningful and rewarding work to date?
Making the farm a sustainable reality against considerable odds has been very rewarding to see. Small scale farming is challenging in any context in our economy, and city farming even more so. Going into our sixth season, I’m proud we are one of a handful of examples of commercial city farming in North America and are moving closer and closer to being able to pay our farmers a living wage, not just minimum.
If you could only have one non-local food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Where do you stand on local vs organic vs simply eating whole foods? What are your personal priorities when it comes to your own diet?
I am a big believer in both local and organic. If I had to choose, I would generally go with organic unless I knew about the farming practices of the local option. As a family, we are not overly dogmatic about it. We are trying to eat more local, more organic, more plants, less processed food. And running Fresh City, that is pretty easy to do! At the end of the day, if the other stuff doesn’t even come into the house, it’s much easier to avoid it.
Do you have any advice for newcomers to the food movement, and how they can make a contribution?
The key is to find ways to bring more people into the tent. Our goal should not be a kind of personal moral purity. If I can’t get more and more people on board with eating good food, that is my failure. So that means you have to shed any sense of self-righteousness and constantly question your assumptions about what it means to eat well. We don’t need to be perfect, but we do need to perfect.
If you came back to earth for three more lifetimes, what life form would you choose to be and why?
Probably as a dolphin. Seems like it would be fun. I like travelling.
Is there a fruit or vegetable that you just won’t eat?
Yes, radish. Never liked radish for some reason.
What issue/passion inspires you to keep doing the work you do day after day?
The human element. How do we make eating healthier easy and more delicious for people? How do we create quality jobs for those in the food sector? How do we feed those our economy has left behind?
This post is part of the HH Food Makers and Changers series, introducing you to friends in the food community that are making a big difference.