On “Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg,” restaurateur, philanthropist, and social entrepreneur Kimbal Musk talks about the ways his communities have inspired him to enter food business. “I didn’t expect to be in the food business, I didn’t expect to have a career,” says Musk. But when 9/11 rattled his New York community, he used his new culinary training to step-up. “It was amazing to have that experience cooking for firefighters as they came in from giant piles of melting metal. We fed them real food we had cooked that day so that they could go right back out to save Americans’ lives.”
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“It was at that point that I decided to open a restaurant,” says Musk. After relocating to Colorado, Musk co-founded The Kitchen, a restaurant with a real food mission. “My vision was… working with local farmers. We really hit a nerve,” says Musk. “For a while we worked hard to establish trust with the farmers: and we got it. People were getting real food.” Adding restaurants such as Hedge Row and Next Door, Musk’s Kitchen Restaurant Group aims to connect eaters to nourishment: “real food is food that we trust to nourish our bodies, food that we trust to nourish the farmer, and food that we trust to nourish the planet,” says Musk.
Seeking to improve everyone’s access to trust-worthy, local food, Musk started Square Roots, an urban farming company that grows nutritious food year-round in Brooklyn. Square Roots develops technology to make urban farming easier, while using the fewest resources possible: “We take shipping containers, and we convert them into farms. Each farm has the outdoor equivalent of three acres of traditional farming area,” says Musk. Square Roots also supports the next generation with an urban farmer training program.
Musk also started a non-profit organization to support the next generation: Big Green builds permanent, outdoor learning gardens in hundreds of schools across the United States. To reconnect families to their food, Big Green aims to get a million families nationwide to plant a seed in their backyards to celebrate Plant a Seed Day on March 20, 2019. Musk was also active in promoting Denver’s Healthy Food Initiative, a grassroots ballot measure to fund better school food by increasing sales taxes. “A large part of the Denver community got behind it and it was successful. We now reach 300,000 kids every school day,” says Musk.
Photo courtesy of Kimbal Musk.