Google’s focus on healthy, sustainable, social food


Think about the food future you would like to curate. That’s the challenge Michiel Bakker, Google’s director of global programs for real estate and workplace services, gave to Canada’s Agriculture Day attendees at Ottawa, Ont., this year.

“So think about 2050 — what is your dream of what your food future should be from a production side, and from a consumption side?”

Then, says Bakker, think about how you might help to achieve that vision — what difference will you make as of tomorrow morning?

Bakker says it doesn’t matter who you are, or what you do, everyone has a role to play in the future of food. And for Google locations, this means considering foods and beverages sourced for their restaurants and cafes in 55 countries in the world.

“For us, food is really a social means to bring people together…but it has to be healthy and sustainable as well,” says Bakker, adding the company cares about the food systems it’s part of.

“So this is not about ultimately using it once and depleting the resources, but to think through how can you ultimately consume and enjoy food in such a way that by the end of the day, the system is better than how you started at the beginning of today.”

Bakker says the organization is data- and science-driven in its food offering, and there are a set of minimum and maximum standards for sourcing food in all of its locations.

In this conversation with RealAgriculture’s Shaun Haney, Bakker discusses GMOs, water use, conventional vs. organic, and values-driven decision making. Bakker says that in addition to being social, sustainable, and healthful, food offerings should also be locally relevant and culturally appropriate.

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