The Fetch Blog

Curated reads and events for professionals

Food disruption: how liquid meals could replace eating and make us healthier — November 10, 2013

Food disruption: how liquid meals could replace eating and make us healthier


With obesity on the up, escalating food prices and less time than ever to whip up that omega rich supper, has food as we know it simply become too inefficient a fuel?

Proponents of a rather new fonder in the form of liquid nutrition certainly seem to think so. An influx of drinkable meal alternatives have hit the market with quite some gusto. Yet a far away cry from yesteryears ‘slim-fast solutions’ these new age elixirs proclaim to solve a food ‘problem’ dichotomized by the trade off between convenience and nutrition. However whether these fluid solutions will simply satiate Gen Y’s vitamin junkies, or rather find a socially sustainable sweet spot remains to be seen.

Liquid Meal Time

While munching through a carrot may not be everyone’s cup of tea for that daily dose of vitamin C; the promise of a nutrient laden drinkable solution, Soylent, has deemed chewing altogether rather redundant. It’s certainly no feast for the senses, but Rob Rhinehart’s ‘default meal’ option has not only crowd sourced over $1M in pre-orders but has secured over $1.5M VC backing to bring the masses a cheap, healthy and convenient meal alternative. Soylent itself is manufactured liquid nutrition,comprised from water amalgamated with starch, rice protein powder, olive oil and a colorful list of nutrient additives – probably more extensive than you’re going to find on the back of a multivitamin pack. Rob claims its got everything the body needs, is “Certainly less risky than the typical western diet” while seeks to address a rather more pertinent issue of food waste. “We’re trying to solve hunger. This is not just a developing world problem. Millions of people in the United States are living off food stamps, eating poorly due to lack of time and money, or skipping meals altogether. We’re trying to make food better.”

If Soylent is able to remedy food waste, it just may have some legs. Roughly one third of food produced in the world for human consumption every year, approximately 1.3 billion tones, gets lots or wasted, while in the USA alone $48.3 billion worth of food is thrown away each year. Refining food choices in order to reduce personal and global inefficiency could just be the way to go. With Stateside obesity hitting 1 in 3, mixing up a few Soylent shakes could just carve us out into leaner meaner machines too. The question is if Soylent will succeed in nurturing a consistent enough change in peoples natural desire to gnaw, chomp and crunch or rather be merrily consumed as the latest dietary fad. The latter notoriously having limited shelf life. Rhinehart stresses that Soylent has greater longevity: “Soylent is not meant to replace all meals, merely the ones where cost and convenience are desirable. My hope is this time and money saving will allow people to enjoy the pleasure and experience of eating well with other people more often.”

While Soylent seeks to reduce the cost of good nutrition for the average Joe, at the other end of the spectrum an insurgence of premium brands are offering vitality potions for an ever increasing sample of aficionados.

Nutrients On Demand

While juice detoxes may not be a new concept, followers of these high-end fluid cleanses are extending far beyond brides-to-be. Orders are on the up for the likes of an algae green kale cold pressed nectar, complete with a side ‘mood balancing, brain rejuvenating’ spike. Food is getting functional.


Urban Remedy, a nutritional delivery service based in California received $1M in funding last year from LA-based accelerator Science to get more people on board the vegan vitality bandwagon. The services meal replacement shakes, such as its masala chai, ginger, date and maca solution, pledge to fight hunger, deliver fiber, energize and even boost your libido. All for just $7.99 and “One twist of a cap!” Founder, Neka Pasquale expressed that her meal solutions are a “Great alternative to other grab ‘n’ go food options” enjoyed by everyone from moms to kids. While the stress is certainly on providing 100% organic convenient nutrition, a few swigs of these new super food cocktails do not come cheap. Rather than aiding mass adoption of a healthier lifestyle for the masses, these companies have found their sweet spot in marketing to foody fashionistas who will pay a premium for their potions.

Yet demand is ever rising, Geeta Sidhu Robb, who pioneered HPP (High Pressure Processed) juices on UK shelves, has seen her business Nosh Detox, double in growth every year since 2007. “Once you get to a place where you look, feel good and perform well, you want to say there and you want convenience. My job is to create nutrients which are solutions.” Geeta, who sees herself in the ‘nutrient business’ further advocates that we’re going to see a seismic type of shift in health where there will be a focus more on wellness rather than just illness. Convenient nutrient absorption may indeed be a viable solution to wellness.

For that to truly be the case, the upward trajectory of super food or rather super drink adoption will certainly have to continue, with these companies claims of a healthier mind and body bearing fruit. However, while it is arguably undisputed that drinking a few power juices or shakes could improve your health during the period of consumption, at current price points, such high-end meal replacements are not exactly viable long run solutions for the average person.

Live to eat or eat to live?

Could we really be entering an age where, to enhance our health, we substitute a meal for a shake? With a proliferating desire for speed and convenience in every aspect of life, it may indeed make sense to segment out the function of eating, adopting drinking for efficient nutrition and eating for recreational pleasure. Ardent cooks and Italians would be horrified. However if the likes of Soylent can provide an experience that evokes a change in attitude to food that is enough to make us substitute our sandwich on a consistent basis, then maybe this doesn’t sound so crazy. As of now, the proof is in the pudding. It remains to be seen how much more radiant these drinkable nutrient concoctions can really make us in the long run.

About our contributor // Rajdeep Gahir is a London-based innovation aficionado who enjoys dabbling with words while sipping chai lattes. She particularly digs entrepreneurial folk and start-ups with social impact. Follow her @ladygahir.

Event Review: The Fetch Melbourne Dinner On Food Startups — July 7, 2013

Event Review: The Fetch Melbourne Dinner On Food Startups


After our three previous super-engaging dinner conversations (see the Quantified Self review), we kicked off our fourth The Fetch Melbourne Dinner on Tuesday 2 July with a topic that was sure to stir up conversation, considering how much Melburnians love dining out, quality coffee and laneway bars – food startups – with our guest speaker, Liisa Vurma, co-founder of the social networking foodie community, Eat With Me.

Enjoying great conversation on food starups at Trunk!
Enjoying great conversation on food starups at Trunk!

On a windy Melbourne night, 11 Fetchers came together to discuss the power of food, share food experiences, debate ethical vs convenience, and ultimately decide – why Melbourne is perfectly placed to become the food startup capital of the globe (And the answer: It’s YES!). In addition to our guest speaker Liisa, by chance we were spoiled to have several other food startup founders also in attendance – Athan Didaskalou of Three Thousand Thieves and Jack Barker & Xavier Verhoeven of Where The Truck At.

Comparing stories and experiences between the three startups naturally added to the experience and conversation!

We usually invite an attendee to share their thoughts on the Dinner, so it was great that Xavier was keen to do so … here’s his review:

I’m an introvert. And having spent a long five or so years pursuing a degree in psychology, I’m probably even more aware of that fact than most other introverts.

Like lots of other introverts, I played with computers and the internet when I was younger, which led me down the path of being interested in startups, and eventually co-founding my own, For the bulk of you who have no idea what that is, we have a website and iPhone app that map out the amazing food trucks around Melbourne and Australia.

But all this is to explain that when The Fetch announced an intimate dinner to discuss food startups, I was immediately equal parts eager and hesitant.

Eager to go and potentially learn from a bunch of other awesome entrepreneurs and fellow digital guys (figuring that most Fetch subscribers are probably digital focused) working on or interested in the world of startups relating to food. But hesitant to get out of my comfort zone and meet a bunch of new people.

So I did what any self-respecting introvert would do in that situation – I got a mate (and co-founder) to book the tickets for us. And I’m really glad I did.

The twelve people that made up our small party in a private room at Trunk certainly didn’t disappoint in terms of conversation. As is obligatory at an event where most people don’t know each other, we did an introduction round robin, with about 50% of the table founders of current startups – a pretty great start.

With the formalities done got to defining what makes a ‘food startup’. The short story is that we couldn’t easily define why, or even a food truck might count as ‘food startups’, or why most restaurants aren’t considered startups.

The longer version involved thoughts around innovation, disruption, and following a slightly less trodden business model path. Perhaps to quote The Castle, “it’s just… the vibe”.

And just like the plethora of restaurants that seem to pop up in Melbourne every other week, there doesn’t appear to be a shortage of startups from the Melbourne foodie community.

After all, everyone has to eat.

I was particularly interested to hear from Eat With’s founder Liisa Vurma, after signing up on her site around a year ago, but never getting involved with an event because, well, I’m an introvert. Eat With Me events are actually similar to The Fetch dinner, with the aim of bringing friends and strangers together to share meals, often around a guiding theme. It sounds like a great community, and I definitely want to get along to an event soon (with a friend, of course).

We didn’t talk about Eat With Me as much as I initially thought we would, but then with a conversation as diverse as local councils’ issues with food trucks, sourcing ethical and sustainable produce, how convenience and quality can are often at odds in our decisions, and the absolute genius that is avocado subscriptions (of varying ripeness to ensure optimally ripe avocado every day of the week), there was a lot of great conversation to get through.

In the end, though, there was one thing we all agreed on: when it comes to food, Melbourne is spoilt for choice – we have incredible food, amazing coffee, and enormous variety.

And there are a bunch of smart Melbournians working on innovative ways to make that choice even greater through the next breed of food startups, and maybe even share a bit of the Melbourne food culture with those who don’t have it so good. It’s great to be involved in one little piece of the pie, and it’ll be great to see how these food startups evolve.

About our contributor // Xavier is co-founder of  Where The Truck At and self-proclaimed peddler of beers and marketing dude at Temple BrewingYou can also follow him on Twitter @xavierverhoeven.  

Top places for business meetings in Melbourne CBD – Part 1 — August 7, 2012

Top places for business meetings in Melbourne CBD – Part 1

It’s business time. You need a place quick smart. It needs to be quiet and have enough space for two people or more, if the need arises. And while there’s no shortage of places to meet in Melbourne’s CBD, it can be tricky to find a good place for a business meeting.

The Fetch invited us to suggest a handful of the most suitable and tasty places for business meetings in our lovely city. And while each of these establishments is excellent for holding business meetings, we propose using this list as the basis for an ongoing conversation about great meeting venues in Melbourne. We’d love to hear about some of your favourite places and why you like them. We’ll write them up in Part 2 of this series.

Now let’s get down to business…

Captains of Industry

Photo credit: Michael Krypuy

Opening hours: 10am – 9pm Tue-Sat; 10am – 5pm Sun-Mon. (*from website)
Address: Level 1, 2 Somerset Place, Melbourne, VIC 3000
Facebook // // +61 3 9670 4405
Wi-Fi: Yes

Judging by the name, Captains of Industry sounds like a great place for business meetings and on many levels it is. Located on Somerset Place off Little Bourke Street, the venue is accessed up a flight of stairs on the left when peering down the laneway. The vibe at Captains is cool and stylish and the space is adorned with vintage tools and old-world sewing machines hinting at the venue’s other offerings.

The space has a single long table for large groups and free Wi-Fi. It’s best to avoid the lunchtime rush and come during mornings or afternoons. The coffee is excellent and the blend is unique to Captains from Josh Bailey of Bailey Coffee. Thom, one of the proprietors, suggests the charcuterie board for sharing. Their sandwiches are also held in very high regard.

In addition to lovely coffee and food, Captains of Industry also offer bespoke footwear and leather accessories, traditional haircuts and Made to Measure suits. This means you’ll walk out of Captains looking very smart indeed.

The Little Mule Cycle Co. & Cafe

Photo credit: Nico Alary

Opening hours: 7:30am – 3pm Mon–Fri, 9:30am – 3pm Sat, kitchen closes @ 2:30 pm most days.
Address: 19 Somerset Pl, Melbourne VIC 3000
Facebook // @thelittlemule // // +61 3 9670 4904
Wi-Fi: Yes

The wonderful The Little Mule is also located on Somerset Place laneway a few yards down from Captains of Industry. It’s also a great place for smaller meetings (two to four people) and the vibe is causal and relaxed outside of peak times. Free Wi-Fi is also available. Owner Hugh suggests dropping in anytime besides 12pm to 2pm to avoid the lunch rush. If you’ve got a big group (e.g. eight people or more) give Hugh or Garrett a call to secure their long communal table.

From Wednesdays to Fridays Little Mule’s popular slow cooked pulled pork sandwich is served and is recommended. The breakfast menu is also good for quick meetings and the baked eggs are a great vegetarian option. The coffee is excellent and the blend is the super smooth Coffee Supreme South Blend.

If you’re looking for a sweet ride back to work, Little Mule also builds custom single speed and fixed gear bikes with frames that have been especially designed for them. Riding one of these one-off bikes is probably the hippest way to arrive back at your office, studio or coworking space.


Photo credit: Emily Biffa at Kinfolk

Opening hours: 7am – 3pm Mon–Fri
Address: 673 Bourke Street, Melbourne 3000
Facebook // @kinfolk_cafe // // +61423 229 953
Wi-Fi: No but they’re looking into it.

The people at Kinfolk are a lovely bunch and what makes this place really special is that it’s a non-for-profit business. So while you might ask “where’s the money?” you’ll feel good knowing that Kinfolk distribute the profits of your meal to four development projects, two in Australia and two internationally. Funds go to indigenous education, Melbourne’s homeless and communities in Rwanda and Ghana.

Kinfolk is located a short stroll from Southern Cross Station in the “Beirut end” of town (as opposed to the Paris end). The vibe is casual and relaxed outside of peak times and Emily suggests coming in from 10am to 12pm and after 2pm to avoid the lunch crowds. The space is best suited for smaller groups and there are a couple of larger communal tables. The coffee blend is by Di Bella, who also has a unique link to the café. The coffee is 100% sponsored by Di Bella (i.e. no charge to Kinfolk) and this was a major element in how Kinfolk was born, along with the café space being made available.

The menu is seasonal and comprises local produce and organic ingredients wherever possible. The baguettes, frittatas and the Convent Bakery pastries are perfect for a quick bite.

Urban Table at The Urban Workshop

Photo credit: Michael Krypuy

Opening hours: 7am – 5pm Mon–Fri
Address: Foyer Kiosk, 50 Lonsdale Street, Ground Level
Wi-Fi: Yes

The Urban Table café in The Urban Workshop precinct is located in the Paris end of town a short walk from Parliament Station on Lonsdale Street. You can spot this café from the street by the prominent timber blocks in the café’s window.

Upon walking in you’re greeted with a roomy and bright venue decked out in timber and there are several long communal tables making it perfect for large group meetings. The vibe is friendly and a little more up-tempo than the other places mentioned. An advantage of this large space is that you’ll be able to find a free table at most times of the day.

The coffee is by Merlo and there’s a selection of muffins, cakes, slices, biscuits and cold drinks on offer. Ask the kind staff for the details of the free Wi-Fi too. While the food on offer here is limited the venue stands out as a great space for those larger business meetings.

The Fair Trader

Photo credit: Michael Krypuy

Opening hours: 7am – 4pm Mon-Wed, 7am till late Thu–Fri.
Address: 11 Exhibition Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000
+61 3 9686 1888
Wi-Fi: No.

The Fair Trader opened in June 2012 and is another great meeting venue in the Paris end of town. It’s bright and roomy like The Urban Table, the vibe is casual and there are plenty of long timber tables for large group meetings.

You’ll be able to find a free table at most times of the day because it’s such a large space and the longer opening hours on Thursdays and Fridays are a real advantage for any late meetings.

The coffee is great with the blend from the St Ali crew. There’s also a great selection of sandwiches and salads on offer for a quick bite. The lunch menu is modern with items such as an open steak sandwich and pumpkin gnocchi. There’s also a large selection of beers and wine on offer to wind down after those power meetings.

A big thank you to everyone we spoke to for this post, especially Shaun Byrne, Julia Ford and Evie Thuy Nguyen for their awesome suggestions for venues.

To see all the venue suggestions mapped out, visit –>

To find out what’s happening in your city subscribe to The Fetch weekly email digests now!

About our Contributors // The Dishcovery Team aka Michael and Joe. Dishcovery is an iPhone app that provides a community ratings system for some of your favourite dishes. It’s the brainchild of Joe Nguyen and Michael Krypuy, two Melbourne guys who love food and technology. The app was born from the conversations about how to answer those commonly asked questions like “Where is the best burger in town?” or “Where is the best pho in Melbourne?”. Everyone can have a say by grading a dish, adding a comment or adding a photo. You can download and check out the app via their site.

Event Review: Michael Pollan on How to Eat — July 22, 2012

Event Review: Michael Pollan on How to Eat

This event review is brought to you by Solange Francois, from our Fetch Community Ambassador Team in Sydney.

photo credit: @mikeyzeee

Michael Pollan spoke to a sold out Sydney crowd on Tuesday July 10 as part of the Sydney Opera House ‘Ideas at the House’.

The bestselling author and journalist was hosted by Rebecca Huntley to share with the audience his views on the Western diet, the food ecosystem and why we need to think more about how the food we eat is produced.

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” This is Michael Pollan’s simplified mantra on what our relationship with food should be.

It’s clear enough that the modern Western diet is very different to what it was 150 years ago. Our diet is now high in processed food, meat and refined carbohydrates and lower in vegetables and fruit than it once was. As result, large groups within predominantly Western populations are subject to a whole manner of chronic diseases that our great-grandparents would have thought peculiar. “Why,” Pollan asks, “do we continue to eat this way?” In short, he says, “Because it tastes really good!”

According to Pollan, our consumption of sugar is one of the starkest reminders for just how much the Western diet has changed over the past 150 years. Once valued as a rare and special treat that people would go to great lengths to find because of its scarcity and great source of energy, it is now consumed at record levels. In the old days, fruit – the primary natural source of sugar for many of our ancestors – was an expensive commodity.

The same goes for animal products, in particular, fat. For our ancestors, fat was a huge undertaking to come by. Humans had to essentially kill a large animal to retrieve a substantial amount. Now, we go down to local for a steak (with a large slice of fat down the side). In addition, the animals we farm in the modern age are a slow, lethargic and fatty beast in comparison to what would have been hunted by our forbears.

According to Pollan: “We need to change our views on meat. Once upon a time, meat was a special event food and it needs to go back to that.”

But is vegetarianism the answer? Not in Pollan’s opinion. He believes that “a truly sustainable food ecosystem will have animals in it.”

So how have we gone from eating sugar, fat and meat only on special occasions to eating them whenever we want to?

“Corn, soy and wheat are the building blocks of the fast food diet,” Pollan said. He added that what’s perhaps most disturbing is that while the production of corn, soy and wheat is subsidised by the US government, vegetable produce is not. “We’re essentially eating what legislature is telling us to eat.”

Perhaps one of the most alarming factoids to come out of the evening’s discussion was that, according to Pollan, 75% of USA’s healthcare funds are spent on chronic, diet-related and most notably, preventable disease. He added that, “chronic diseases that we suffer from now were not routine 100 years ago.”

Many of the products we consume in the West are made by the same large corporations wherever you are. Between the United States and Australia, the packages may be different but higher up the global food production food chain, most roads will lead to the same food conglomerates.

“You can’t outsource something as important as what we put in our bodies every day to a large corporation who doesn’t have our interest at heart” Pollan stated.

While he is highly critical of food production by major corporations, Pollan is also a firm believer in the possibility of sustainable food production and major global corporations working together.

Food Movements

Pollan spoke at length about different food movements can have negative, positive and unclear impacts on our health and the environment.

While locavorism (eating food that is locally produced) can be a positive contributor to the food ecosystem and our health, eating food that has travelled great distances is nothing new. “Food trading has been around for at least 800-900 years, starting with spices, sugar, rum….”

MasterChef and the great lie?

How is the surge of cooking shows and prevalence of celebrity chefs impacting our diets?

“Cooking shows don’t correlate to more cooking,” Pollan reckons. On the contrary – many people are discouraged because of complicated methods and hard-to-source or expensive ingredients. Cooking shows do what television does for everything….”hook you in and make you watch.”

However, one of Pollan’s viewpoints on the way we glorify cooking is that celebrity chefs and modern food movements are progressively attracting young men to learn about food again.

Today, there is no division between men and women when it comes to food education. In the West during 1950s, there was a change in food culture when a generation of women went to work.

“Culture is just a fancy word for your Mom,” said Pollan. When women entered the workforce en masse, the ability to share their culinary knowledge diminished.

“Could we potentially evolve to be able to effectively process what we’re eating?” asked a member of the audience. Pollan hesitated with his response, saying that yes, potentially humans could adapt and evolve to be capable of handling our current diet, but that’s only part of the picture. How we’re eating now is tough on us but it’s “even tougher on animals and the environment.” The problem with the food system isn’t just about what it’s doing to our health.

Animal and environmental ethics

Pollan spoke about permaculture using Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farm as an example. Salatin is an American farmer who runs his farm sustainably, modelled off the natural ecosystem. At the farm, each animal contributes some ecosystem service to another animal and the environment, so there is a close and intricate relationship between ruminants, birds and nature. Cows will graze down the pasture in one paddock and then be moved to another. Three days later, chickens are placed in the grazed-down pasture and will eat the larvae in the cow patties. Any longer, and these larvae hatch into flies, so by understanding the life cycle of the fly Salatin provides the chickens with a source of protein and at the same time, avoids a fly problem.

The chickens spread out the manure and add their own, which fertilise the soil and allow the grass to flourish. In turn, the soil is built from the bottom up with the life living in the soil such as earthworms and fungi feasting on shedding roots and processing them. At the end of the year, there is more life, not less – a truly harmonious cycle.

My favourite quote of the evening was this: “A cuisine is a compromise between a species and a place.” We are the species, and the place is our environment. We have to make a compromise about how we use it.

Quick takeaways – diet according to Pollan

  • Pollan eats vegetarian on the road because you don’t know what you’re getting or where it came from.
  • Can you pronounce the ingredients in your food? Would your grandma recognise what it is? If not, then don’t eat it.
  • “The whiter the bread, the sooner you’ll be dead.”

Watch Michael Pollan talk about Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farm or hear from Salatin himself.

About our Ambassador // This article was contributed by Community Ambassador Solange Francois. She is a marketer and lover of travel with a passion for psychology and lifelong learning. You can connect with Solange through her blog or on Twitter @solangefrancois

Interview: Melbourne local, Blake Hutchison — April 22, 2012

Interview: Melbourne local, Blake Hutchison

This month we interview the founder of Agenda City (formerly known as The Agenda Daily) Blake Hutchinson. As a fellow city-guide publisher, we were keen to find out his thoughts on the local community, how he got his start and what’s next.

Name: Blake Hutchison


Twitter handle: @agendacity

Works at: Founder, AgendaCity

What was your first job?

I suppose my first real and meaningful job was at Lonely Planet. I was the Business Development Associate. This meant licensing our travel guide content to websites and for use on other digital properties and platforms plus creating custom Lonely Planet guides. Lonely Planet was good to me. My first boss taught me a lot about the value of relationships and being commercially minded. Ultimately LP sent me to San Francisco where I learned a lot about everything I now know. Your first job and initial successes have a lot to do with who you become.

What’s the hardest challenge you’ve had to face work-wise?

Building AgendaCity off a zero base. All of my professional networks were back in the US so starting something fresh in Australia was difficult. Not to mention how quickly the environment has changed. Standing out for us comes down to quality… that’s been tough while others throw a couple of million dollars (or spend years) at getting the runs on the board. We’ve got to go quickly and continue to innovate. That’s what we’re doing.

Who do you think is doing cool stuff in our industries?

Still seems that a lot of the true innovations come out of the US. Gilt Groupe is a big influence for us. Also can’t go past the impact that companies like Pinterest and even Foodily are having. 

What is AgendaCity and how does it work?

It’s a sales and recommendations platform for top places and top experiences. Customers trust us for our first to market news on new bars, restaurants and things to do. That trust is reflected in the quality of sales we offer and the huge number of people buying from us.

Congrats on the round from Future Capital! How hard was it to secure investment in Australia?

In short, very hard. The market is small and crowded. Find an investor who you resonate with and will genuinely understand the opportunity.

What’s next for you and AgendaCity?

We just launched AgendaTables. It’s new and nobody else is doing it (though no doubt people will try). Tables is about offering our discerning members access to top restaurants at privileged pricing. Restaurants offer tables that they would typically not fill, we offer these to our members and they receive 30% off the bill. There’s no coupons and the reservation is guaranteed. It has launched in Melbourne with Sydney, Perth and Brisbane coming very shortly.

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