Investors have given over $4 billion to food-related tech companies in just the first half of 2014, which is more than double the amount invested in all of 2013. As this industry rapidly expands, here are five truly innovative companies worth learning about now that will change your plate, one tasty bite at a time.
1. Pare Up
You may have heard the stat before, but it's worth repeating: In the U.S., up to 40 percent of food goes to waste. The PareUp app is using technology to put a dent in that $165 billion (yes, billion) of unsold food that winds up in the trash by connecting consumers to grocery stores and restaurants to buy food before it gets tossed. You get 50 percent off the goodie (everything from salads to cookies), while the restaurant gets to free itself of excess inventory that would otherwise go to waste because it doesn't hit the minimum weight needed for a food bank or shelter to pick it up or because of food safety regulations. Currently only in NYC, keep your eyes peeled for their expansion to around a dozen cities this year. Pareup.com
2. Hot Bread Kitchen
Women empowerment + wholesome cooking = quite the recipe for success. Fueled by a grant from Eileen Fisher, at Hot Bread Kitchen, female immigrants (and now men too) create baked goods with locally grown, organic ingredients as much as possible inspired by the bakers' home countries. The business incubation programs help boost their financial stability, while the culinary workforce community helps build confidence and skill sets. Heritage corn tortillas or Armenian lavash crackers anyone? Hotbreadkitchen.org
3. Yeah Dawg
From Hot Bread to "hawt dawg"! Maybe you caught them on "Restaurant Startup" after that "Shark Tank" marathon, maybe not. Either way, these game changers are about to go from hot dog stand to your table in a serious way. Their signature hawt dawg, a mix of nutrient-rich root veggies, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds with spices, has a meaty texture that gets a carnivore's stamp of approval. Plenty of meat substitutes are on the market, but none that quite do justice to the ubiquitous hot dog without the soy, additives and chemicals. Did we mention this is so-y and gluten-free to boot? Expect to see it roll out commercially soon. Yeahdogvegan.com
Pretend the farmers' market and Seamless online food delivery had a baby. Oh wait, they kinda did. Behold: GoodEggs, created to bring the best of farmers' market bounty to your door. They've got a dizzying array of produce, eggs and dairy, meat and fish, pantry staples, flowers—and you can order exactly what you want and subscribe to items that are household staples. Best of all, because farmers can know what they need to produce, the system strives to help reduce waste. Sounds even better than a virtual farmer's market, no? Goodeggs.com
Helmed by famed chef Grant Achatz and restaurateur Nick Kokonas, this innovative ticketing system for restaurants is launching nationwide this year. Using the platform, users will be able to snag spots at difficult-to-reserve restaurants under a variety of ticketing options like pre-paid (basically, like a concert ticket, you just pay for your meal in advance, and all you do is show up), dynamic deposit (the price fluctuates based on the date and time) and no-cost tickets (the same as a reservation, basically). The creators hope the system will cut down on no-shows (totally guilty), which can impact a restaurant's revenue severely. Tocktix.com
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