Today’s guest is the brilliant co founder of Belcampo Anya Fernald. She shares her personal journey from female cheese maker, entrepreneur, single mom, and taking the road less travelled. Her unwavering passion and conviction is infectious, and she is so focused on doing things the right way you realize it keeps her from having the opportunity to notice what the competition is up too. As we move forward and looking at the ways that we have gotten it right and wrong in business and food, Anya is a shining example of what the future hopefully looks like. Enjoy!
Listen to the episode here:
- Anya’s Roots and Her Love for Food [00:05:46]
- On Being a Supported Child to Being a Supportive Parent [00:18:47]
- Focusing on the Little Steps [00:27:43]
- Regenerative Farming [00:40:09]
- An Aspiration for Change [00:50:55]
- On Belcampo’s Carbon Footprints [00:58:24]
- A Woman in Leadership, Her Lifestyle and Advocacy [01:01:56]
- COVID Challenges [01:11:31]
- A Mom of Two [01:16:54]
- Struggles and Worries [01:26:05]
- A Prison Story in Greece [01:32:09]
- Taking Care of Oneself [01:38:27]
- The Dream for Belcampo [01:39:51]
- A Peek Into Belcampo Varieties [01:42:22]
- Favorite Things to Bring [01:46:03]
Anya Fernald – Woman in a Man’s World with the CEO of Belcampo Farms
Welcome to the show. I’m excited about all my guests, but I am so excited about Anya Fernald. She is the co-creator of Belcampo. As a female CEO in the meat business, interesting already but more interesting is what kind of business in the way that they’re doing it. It’s the type of meat business where it’s good for the customer, it’s good for the animal, and it’s good for the environment. They even have their own slaughterhouses to keep all of that in mind.
This conversation was important for me because like everyone, we’re all juggling so many different things in different hats in different roles. As a female CEO and a single mom, she dives down into not only managing and running her business in a way that reflects who she is and how she had to grow into that. I don’t think any of us arrive at knowing how to do things, but how we do it the way that we think we’re supposed to. All of a sudden, we start to learn how to do it the way that we think we should do it. A lot of times, that’s when we become more successful and things get better, even though it’s scary.
She talked a lot about her family and her path, living in Europe as a single female early in her 20s which got her as a cheesemaker, involved with the importance of food, how food is made, where it comes from, and the gathering around food. Also, what we get as individuals and as communities when we do this the right way. She’s not only showing us that as an individual person but now certainly in her business.
The other thing she gets into is talking about what it’s like to be a single mom. She said something that was important for me to hear because as parents and especially moms, I don’t know why we’re always feeling guilty for everything. She said something about being willing to drop our kids off at birthday parties and being like, “I’ll see you after,” and not feeling guilty for that. That goes back to doing it the way that is authentic to who she is. It was an educational conversation, it was a fun conversation, and it was even an emotional conversation. I hope you enjoy it.
In Italian, it’s Belcampo and the name is Italian. That’s my background. I spent a lot of my life in Italy, so that’s where the name originated. Growing up between Oregon and California, there were a lot of legacy food businesses that are Italian-American from all the Genovesa and the northern times that came to California.
I always would be so excited to go in and see what those foods were like and often, I was let down because these family businesses, eight generations in, had to play in the big games. If they were around now, they would have to shift the production style to officially play on the big CPG playing field. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be amazing if this business had the feeling of what you would imagine a family ranching business that had managed to make it through the generations and retain this incredible value?”
I was struggling initially. There was a lot of pressure to do more of a hipster name like Ace Meats or Bluebird. Those were something we’re looking at because that was the peak of butchering being cool. I thought that people should feel energetical that this is a brand that represented values of the 1920s around agriculture. I wanted this old fashion Italian-American.
Why Oregon and Northern Cal? Why were you in both places?
My parents are both academics, so they’re both professors at Stanford. My dad had a stroke so he retired. My mom’s a developmental psychologist and my dad’s a neurobiologist there. Eugene, Oregon. U of O. I was born in Germany, but I’m not German. They lived there for a decade because my father did his postdoctoral work with Konrad Lorenz. He’s an amazing animal behaviorist. We moved a lot. We moved eighteen places before I was 15.
My mother got her PhD when she was 42 after having children, and then she became a full professor at Stanford. She was fast sent when she got the PhD. Because of the timing of that, I grew up as a young girl seeing my mom get her PhD, attending her baccalaureate, and all that kind of stuff. I saw her do that but then because of the way academic careers work, she hadn’t gotten all the travel pieces done in her 20s at that point so we ended up moving around a lot. I lived in London for two years, lived in Denver for two years, and went back and forth between Oregon and then ended up in Palo Alto when my parents ended up both at Stanford for my high school.
Where does the love of food come from? Is it your own passion? You even said going to certain places and excited about experiencing their foods. Was this your own thing unique to you?
Where I was born, there was raw milk dairy in Bavaria. My parents were hippies in a lot of ways. I had an early exposure to raw milk and agriculture. I always had the love of animals as a real through-line in my life and being interested in animals and how animals worked. Then the cooking piece of it was about playing a functional role in my family. My mother has very serious anxiety, getting overwhelmed in the kitchen. As a young woman, I began pitching in. I remember I cooked my first Thanksgiving when I was 9 or 10.
The kitchen stressed your mom out.
I’m a cool cucumber. I can move through a lot of stress pretty easily. I have felt like that since I was a little kid. I’ve always been able to keep a cool head. I’m also good at tracking multiple deliverables and keeping things moving. The kitchen was a great place to play with that. As somebody who’s fairly high energy and likes to do a lot of different things, I find the kitchen calming for me. To this day, I think of domesticity as a lost meditative art. In some ways, it’s unfortunate that for many women, domesticity became entangled with a significant negative role connotation.
“I have to get dinner ready.” I learned to cook as a young adult because I married someone who likes to eat. Weirdly, I wouldn’t say I’m a creative person but I found a way to express myself creatively that way. Even that idea of whatever’s in the kitchen, coming up with something because I have a few friends where there’s a thing of not liking to cook. It feels overwhelming. People don’t know where to start.
The thing I’d say in favor of simplicity is to start before you’re in the kitchen when you have high quality-based foods. That’s probably the most simplifying assumption. You can cut up a ripe cucumber and put good olive oil on it and good salt if you’ve got good cucumbers, good salt, and good olive oil. If any one of those three things is bad, then it’s going to be a bummer dish.
The first thing is that simple food that’s elegant and delicious and doesn’t require a lot of fatigue is absolutely based on great grocery shopping and great procurement. To me, half of my kitchen time is procurement time, paying attention to where I get things. That’s something I learned working in Europe, the simplicity of elegant meals like a good fresh cheese with good oil on it and some herbs on top, and enjoying that so much, feeling so in my skin, and healthy and vibrant eating that food.
[bctt tweet=”At times, finding the place to focus and taking away some distractions is key.”]
Unfortunately, in America, in the kitchen, we’ve had to toggle to add a lot of flavor and complexity with a lot of sauces because our base proteins suck. The chicken is bland and pretty gritty. Eat it and there’s all this garbage in your mouth afterward, that gritty protein residue in your mouth from fast-growing proteins. The beef is bland, mushy, fatty, and greasy. It’s a bummer. I wouldn’t sauce the heck out of it.
Unfortunately, a lot of these recipes are air fryer and then do this crazy dip, and then make this other dip to dip the dip in. At that point, it’s totally stressful. If your steak needs a marinade, you need a new steak. If your meat desperately calls for a sauce, spend more time getting good meat. The same even goes for tofu. There’s better-tasting tofu and worse-tasting tofu. It’s not just about meat. If your vegetable dishes can’t stand alone and they don’t taste very good, you should probably be upgrading your veggies.
I saw this study where they did a taste test on tomatoes and the ones that tasted the best also had the most nutrients in them. Imagine that. When you’re in your 20s, you’re making cheese.
I moved to Europe right out of college and I studied cheese making. I dropped out of school for a year. I was a baker. At that time, I decided I wanted to work with my hands.
What were you going to study in school when you went in?
I became a political science major because my parents were academics. I come from a very academic family. My uncle’s a professor. My cousin’s a professor. My sister’s a professor. They were all academics. It’s very important to them that I graduate from college. I considered an agriculture degree because that was my interest at the time, food or ag, going to culinary school, but it wasn’t aligned with what I was interested in.
I graduated from college in 1998. Ag at the time was all big business so it wasn’t aligned with where I was. I picked a school where I could have a lot of leeways. I did an honors program. I did my whole thesis around sourdough bread in gold mining camps. I went to a pretty liberal school where I was able to wiggle my way through. I got a fellowship at that time to study something that you couldn’t study in traditional academic channels. During that time, I bonked and took a year saying, “Maybe I do want to work with my hands.”
In your definition of bonked, what does that mean?
It means I got halfway through my sophomore year and I can’t handle all this work and reading. I wasn’t feeling present and happy. I went and worked in a bakery first in Palo Alto then I moved to Montana and worked on a dude ranch as a baker. I went to Greece for about three months and studied baking there. I did a self-directed year of baking study.
During that time, I started to get interested in American historic baking because that’s what you do. I was stoked about making traditional bread out of whey, so then I started making cheese to make whey. I went back to college and my college roommate still teases me about how we used to have bags of cheese curd draining in our closet in our dorm room because I was always making cheese and stuff. I percolated that interest.
I road crew. I love doing that. I love doing lots of manual things. I made it through on the sidelines. I’m completely dead set on getting this fellowship called the Watson Fellowship. It’s an amazing program. I got that. I went to Europe and I moved to Wales. I started making Caerphilly cheese, a traditional, very small dairy living with a family. I did that in about six different places.
How long are you in Wales?
Two months, three months.
When you’re there, how do you know you’re in the right place?
I had a sense that I had to learn. I was open to learning. I had a sense that what I needed to learn was out there but it wasn’t going to be presented to me. I also needed to grow up, get a clue, and challenge myself. I immediately dropped into this very agricultural life. I started getting up at 2:00 AM milking sheep. The cheese making is quite physical, especially in very artisan dairies. I dropped into the lives of these families that I worked with.
I had no money. I bought a folding bicycle for $20,000 for a year, the entirety of this grant. I traveled by train on my folding bicycle. I’ve been all over Europe. I literally left for Europe with only carry-on luggage for a year. I didn’t move back till eight years later. It was this moment of stepping into adulthood for myself. I was fortunate to be blessed with no specific ambition. With family, that was broadly like, “You’re not going to be a professor so better figure out what you’re going to do.”
I’ve met a lot of people where their parents either gave them the freedom or what have you. What about how your parents handled your journey that you think also has led to you being so successful?
A hard thing that I struggle with now is how many falls they let me take.
When you say you struggle now, you mean, “How could they let me fall that much?”
No. I struggle with how I can do that for my children. I’m almost crying thinking about it now. I remember being over there because when I first went there, I had no computer and no cell phone. I had a stack full of traveler’s checks. Debit cards didn’t work in Europe at the time. I was biking around. I was a 21-year-old American girl and I didn’t speak any of the languages.
Do you think they could see you though? You may have this with some employees. You see how capable and strong they are. They just don’t realize it.
Yeah. I think about that with my daughter. There are some times when I think I’m so vested in her, every little cut. It’s hard to imagine someday saying, “Call me every couple of weeks.” I know how hard it was for my parents. Particularly with my father, I had the sense that he was always there to get my back. I remember once when I started working in Sicily hand to mouth. I wasn’t making very much money and I had my first big business trip.
Keep in mind that my parents never gave me money. They never supported me but I was also blessed to not need student loans because I got a scholarship and had support from my grandfather. I wouldn’t say that I was in a pretty blessed and privileged position not having massive debt. I didn’t get cash and I was bootstrapping place to place. I went to Sicily and I got my first job. I had my first trip. I was going to Boston. I drove to the airport and my bag fell out. There are bumpy little roads in Sicily. This is later in my mid-20s.
I bought all these clothes for this work trip and I remember calling my father in tears and being like, “I’m on this trip and I’m so stressed out.” I’m going to cry talking about this. He was so sweet. He FedExed a credit card. That’s the only money he gave me. He had a stroke so it’s emotional for me. He knew how important it was for me to show up for my first big work trip and crush it.
That’s when they step in. Do you think the success was they knew to let you but then they knew, “We got to swoop in.”
Yeah. It’s hard to know when did that happen and what are the moments because even with my daughter now, I struggle. I’m like, “How will I know?” I think about that gesture and I think about all the other things that happened that were terrifying. I remember almost getting sexually assaulted and telling my father and having him be preoccupied, “You did the right thing. You escaped. Congratulations,” but not freaking on flying. It’s like, “How do you judge that stuff as a parent?” With my daughter in particular and my son, too. I’m worried for different reasons. It’s almost riskier now to have a son for many reasons.
I think about that because I only have daughters. If I had sons, how do you get them to celebrate their masculinity, not be ashamed of it, be empowered by it, not be embarrassed, and things like that? That is a whole other circumstance. What will be interesting for your son is he’s also growing up in a natural environment if he is going to the farm and he’s seeing all of that. That develops that idea of masculinity, which doesn’t have to be just possessed by men.
Women have the energy, too, but let’s say it’s like, “They understand life and death. They know how to care for something and maybe they know how to kill something.” That develops people in a balanced way. They’re more compassionate but in a way, it’s like, “We have to do this.” It’ll be interesting because your son will have that advantage over some other kids. That gives them a different capacity. I’ve seen it while living in Hawaii. For people who live closer to nature, both sides get widened.
I see that in my kids. They have an expansiveness and ease in a lot of different environments.
You’re in Italy. Are you a vegetarian at this time?
When I moved to Europe, I was a vegetarian. I’ve been a vegetarian. The twelve pounds of grain for every pound of meat that I heard about in my high school years or late middle school. I was a vegetarian on and off and I was a vegan briefly.
Was it about not eating things that were not raised correctly? Some people don’t eat animals. Things with a mother. That’s what they say. For you, is it more like, “That doesn’t seem healthy.”
The environmental impact, and then broadly, I love animals and I love nature. I felt like I was a disruptor in that cycle by eating animals. I also didn’t know there were different ways to raise animals. I didn’t understand that there was subtlety in the choice. When I moved to Europe, I went to almost a keto diet, a carnivore diet because I was working in animal agriculture. You have people who effectively pay themselves mostly for meat and milk.
I personally was witnessing the animals. I saw them in natural habitats, milked them, and saw them giving birth. I was in that environment with animals and saw grace and health. It was a very healthy, natural environment. It was the only thing I could eat. Within 2 or 3 months, a million little things that had bothered me and my health vaporized.
I used to have perennially dry skin. I used to have problems with UTIs and persistent infection issues. I have very dry hair and lots of split ends. My mood improved and all these little irritating things got better. It was like a whole system’s resilience that happened for me personally and lots of things changed. I’ve always been athletic but I was in a highly physical job, which I was not wanting forever.
It was certainly fun for a while to be lifting big cheeses, turning them over, scrubbing them, moving shells around, cleaning out that, pouring things, working with animals, and lifting up so much, so I got strong and I felt incredible. After a year, I was like, “I don’t want to go home. I don’t want to be in manual labor and dairies forever, but I certainly don’t want to go back.”
Keep in mind that my whole cohort was all scrambling for jobs like Arthur Andersen at the time and bragging that they were making $1,000 a year. To come back and dive feet first into that world was a big thumbs down. I disengaged from my whole American community. It’s pre-social and everything. I was offered a job in Sicily with a regional development office, the Sicilian government, effectively working for a PhD from Cornell, a Sicilian American who’s now in federal prison. It was complicated. He’s very Sicilian in all aspects.
That’s how you do business.
I moved there and it was amazing. I got a chance to work directly with small cheese makers in the way that I loved but then also, I was doing things that were more in line with my skillset.
When you were in school, you didn’t realize you were in school for all the things you’re managing today.
That’s what I tell people now. It’s like, “What do I do to get into food?” “How do I do what you’ve done with your career?” I’m like, “Start by taking a massive risk and pushing yourself to teach yourself things.” Unfortunately, I learned coping to a degree. I went through so much aloneness and stress and things in my 30s and 40s. It’s been more about, “How do I feel more?”
You’re female and you come through different avenues, academics or maybe even music, art, or sports. Sometimes you do hard enough in a way that you have to pull back on or you don’t have to, but that you recognize, “If I’m going to have a different or more expansive experience, I’m going to have to soften up.
It also becomes gear. It’s comfortable. It’s like, “I got this. I don’t need help. I’m independent. I can muscle my way through things.” Having children brings more attention to that because you go, “Maybe I would like to be that for them, too.” We want to be strong for them and be all these things, but then sometimes there’s nurturing, which happens easily. It’s somehow this other kind of soft. I struggle all the time trying to make sure that they feel the squishiness.
They connect with your vulnerability. I got such a hard shell. Also working in a male-dominated industry, especially in Italy…
She’s in cheese, men, and Sicily. People can say, “You’re stereotyping.” Then you haven’t been to Sicily. How do you go from doing that to getting the idea for Belcampo and having the balls to say, “I can go do that.”
[bctt tweet=”We’ve developed a lot of odd things around parenting and understanding of children and food that are maladaptive and to the detriment of our kid’s health.”]
Belcampo itself was a callable company. Time in Europe gave me a generalist knowledge of so many different types of food production because I worked in a dairy. Then I went on to direct a microfinance program funded by the region of Tuscany to do loans and grants to small-scale artisan food producers to help them get into distribution in the new EU.
How do you know that you can do that job?
That’s a great gift that I have around blind confidence in certain things.
That’s a big jump.
It was and I grew into that but in general, I’ve always had this dive in and figured it out later.
You’re only speaking Italian at this point?
Yes, I was fluent in Italian. Where I worked in Sicily, there was no English so I ramped up quickly and studied a lot. It wasn’t like you just picked it up. By the time I moved to Northern Italy, I was fully fluent in working in Italian. I spent five years there and got a good basis in organization and business planning. I came back and considered getting an MBA at that point because I was so deeply interested in business and business to make a change.
I didn’t have massive savings after those many years abroad. I landed a job building a small produce distribution company that was owned by a nonprofit but was for-profit. It’s effectively distributing to large hospital groups like Kaiser Permanente with high-quality products from small growers to allow them to help small growers scale.
Was this in California?
Yeah, I moved back to Northern California. I wanted to do something in business that did good. Fast-forwarding through that, I ended up producing an event, Slow Food Nation. I built and sold two different businesses during that time. It was very big visibility for me. After I did that event, I got a call from the then-CEO of Whole Foods, “This is Walter Rob. You’ve got amazing leadership. You could do a lot.” It was a nice thing.
I got a similar call from the CEO of Meijer cookware, which is a huge cookware company. They both see me in action. They both had been partners in that event and they both made a point of spontaneously calling me and saying, “You did a bang-up job. You should think about doing something bigger in business.” At that point, I took a minute and started a consulting company. I built it up quickly. I did consult for the USDA.
You’re working with the enemy.
They were interested in small producer work. I wasn’t working with them directly but with programs that they funded, a number of high-net-worth individuals who wanted to invest in agriculture in an interesting way. This is the time when the wine business as a second career was proving to be challenging because the wine industry got so crowded.
I met my business partner through that. He had reached out to Alice Waters who’s always been a mentor to me. I’ve known her forever. She put him in touch with me. He funded a research study to look at some land that he had in Northern California and figure out how to make it into a bigger, viable business centered around ranching. I came up with the concept of Belcampo in January of 2010, and then from 2010 to 2012. I did the development and I built the slaughterhouse that we operate.
You have the slaughterhouse already in 2012?
Yeah. I built that pre-opening. I bought land for that in 2011.
A lot of people have ideas. They are overwhelming. We joke that everyone has ideas who can execute, who can follow through, and go step by step, systematically, on how it works. It is complicated. I understand like, “I can figure it out,” and I appreciate that. Where are you getting information about how to figure it out when you’re in the middle of it because there are so many steps?
The key thing is to take it down to a near-term objective. If you look at the magnitude of what you’re trying to accomplish, you’re going to give up. You always have to dial it down to the micro, to the smallest. If you feel overwhelmed, take it down a notch, take it even smaller. Take it down to the level of like, “I’m going to turn my computer. That’s the task. After that task, I’m going to open my email client. After the task admin, I’m going to clear out that inbox and then make a list of the five priorities.” Take it down to the granular.
I built the first new USDA plant table in California in 50 years. There was no game plan. There were no how-to-do-this out there. I found a firm in Iowa that specialized in building refrigerated facilities. I brought them out, got the plan going, and shoved our way through it. We opened the slaughterhouse a week before we opened our first restaurant. It was years of hot water with a slaughterhouse because it’s a tiny facility and we do 70 different products. I have a lot of USDA stories.
Success is always bigger numbers and all of these things. I don’t know now that we’ve seen how that doesn’t work in the long run for the planet, for the consumer, and for the animal. Now you’re in the business of animals. One thing that your business is doing is getting people to redefine what success is.
That resonates with me. The key thing in pursuing success is to coach yourself to not pay attention to what your competition is doing. If your competition comes out with a product that plagiarizes you or something, get all over it. Time and time again with my team in the building of Belcampo, somebody comes in like, “Did you hear that…” I’m like, “No, and I don’t care.”
Thinking about competition is a complicated way to procrastinate. It’s a socially acceptable way to procrastinate. You’re switching yourself to playing defense at that point rather than playing offense. I can list 50 products off the top of my head that I’ve launched that didn’t work or things that seemed like an amazing idea that I didn’t do. You don’t have to say every single idea, you have to pursue it regardless of performance. Broadly, to spend more than a nanosecond, focusing on competition is a total waste of time and will burn your love. It’ll burn through your positive energy to tackle things. With Belcampo, I brought a product to market that did not have great product timing fit, initially.
Do you mean you were early?
Absolutely. I remember early on, I’d have these guys at my first restaurant that would come in and be buying two rotisserie chickens and pounding them, two each. I was like, “I need more of those guys.” Now, those guys were everywhere. They happen. As a movement, people are interested in protein and keto. They got on it and now they’re a big part of my bases around wellness and health.
Initially, I wasn’t sure where to play. In that time, we did cast around a good deal. It wasn’t until the protein-centric world started to percolate that we started to see some nice gains and some nice successes. What we didn’t do at that time is operate with a lot of integrity. We operated without cutting corners. We focused on the core values of the company around responsibility for people, plants, and animals. It was a privilege then by 2016 that the world had changed enough that there was real interest in this. I could pivot the brand away from being fancy steak companies, like luxury language around it because I was desperate. I’m like, “I have to sell this.”
Keep the lights on.
Make it luxury-oriented. We did these fancy things. I started to tease out these more radical threads. We’re trying to break the meat system or offer a different road. That is the genesis of it. The other piece I’d say is in thinking about the pathway, one key thing I mentioned is not paying attention to my competitors.
A second thing that helped was pulling decisions out of me and putting them into the ethics of the company. It’s like, “Does this resonate with our integrity?” You say that a few times and people will get a message around that. The third thing was when the product timing market was there, we did masquerade as somebody we weren’t for the first couple of years, a little less radical because they weren’t people there yet. Be prepared to meet your consumer where they’re at, and then be prepared to pivot and grow.
You put together your plan. You turn the lights on, which is crazy that you had built your facility.
There was no other way.
What are the ethics of that? Let’s say you hadn’t done that, then you send your animals where and then what happens?
I send them to a plant that will be processing sometimes 600 beef in an hour.
They have to hang out and they can hear?
Not even that. I’m nobody. I’m nothing. I send my animals to that plant and they’ll be stacked in the final fifteen minutes of a shift. Forget about my certifications. Forget about being certified humane and certified organic. I heard many horror stories from small farmers in these bigger plants that you have no traceability and that you’re getting your animal back. Sometimes your animals go in and if they’re particularly good-looking, they’ll swap it out. There’s no integrity around traceability.
Back in the early days before I opened our plant, I was killing at other people’s plants and I went and visited some of those slaughterhouses. I remember going to one of the pig places and seeing my pigs next to those conventional pigs and seeing how they were killed. I wanted a better system from start to finish and I wanted to be able to offer that.
I also know as a small fry, I would never get the attention or quality, or cut that I wanted. Without the slaughterhouse, a system like mine wouldn’t function. Over time, our slaughterhouse is getting more focus. We no longer do every single thing. We started outsourcing our beef jerky. We were sent to a specialized co-packer because our beef jerky was getting moldy in the plant because we also had dry-cured salami.
You can’t be an ATV forever. You can’t be one size fits everything forever. We were able to get started playing with this wide range of products. It was crucial to own the mechanisms in COVID. In COVID, when everything hit the fan and continues to hit the fan, I was in a great position to grow rapidly. That ended up being a very strategic investment. Without that, Belcampo wouldn’t be.
These other people are like, “Sorry, you’re either at the back of the line,” or, “We’re not working right now,” or, “Everything shut down.” We’re usually like, “How do we do everything as cheaply as we can and outsource everything?” It becomes a virtual company in a lot of ways.
Most CPG brands are. In the case of the beef industry, in a typical hamburger, there are usually between 10 and 15 people who take ownership of the product from when that animal drops out of its mom to when it ends up on your plate. Traceability-wise, I’d say that’s unacceptable. I don’t know how you can retain product integrity through that, although there are a lot of rules around it.
A lot of people are like, “Owning your own supply chain is a great way to make more money.” It’s quite the opposite. We can operate vastly under scale, unfortunately. It’s a cost center for the company because it’s not able to achieve the massive efficiencies that other plants have. Those efficiencies are achieved at a cost of product handling quality. From my perspective, that would be unacceptable for us. You can raise the best cow on Earth, but somebody can mess it up when they process.
Talk to me about regenerative farming. It is different from biodynamic, even though it lives under that umbrella. What you’re doing is different. I find it fascinating. The way we’re supposed to do things is becoming so unique. What is the one saying you have at the company about, “What we’re doing shouldn’t be revolutionary, but it is.”
Farming is extractive. Regenerative farming is leaving the land more fertile than you found it. Regenerative farming is typical of human history because 300 years ago, if you were a farmer, you were completely sure that your great-grandkids would be farming that same plot of land. You had a legacy mentality to how you farm. Even if you had the tools, you weren’t going to desertify things.
In typical agriculture, slash and burn are also traditional so I’m not saying all traditional practices are good. The broad generalization I can make is that regenerative farming as a technique was developed by people who were farming in close contact with other farmers and managing land with a mindset of looking to future generations.
The way it’s done is you’re looking to increase soil fertility, which is something that’s not a vibe. It’s something you can quantify. It has to do with the organic density in the soil and the amount of carbon. The way carbon ends up in the soil is it’s deposited through nodes on root systems. It’s a distinct correlation. The more roots you have, the more carbon nodes you have, so the greater capacity the plants have to push carbon into the soil.
Like trees underneath the ground.
Think about California. Right outside your house here, all these hills are dusty and golden. You might look at that and be like, “It’s all dead.” The second it rains, they are all going to turn green. How the hell has that happened? It’s not that there are seeds there that are growing. Those plants are reinvigorated because their roots are down there 30 feet underground right now. They’re staying alive and they’re holding on to nutrition. Come the rain, boom, they’ll pop right out. We see that in California and in any seasonal ecosystem. That’s the power of root systems.
In classic American farming, you disc the soil in between any time in any cultivation. When you disc the soil, you break the root systems. You eliminate it. You take away the plant’s superpower to sequester carbon and contribute to the earth. How do those plants live? This is so bad. I was driving to the Central Valley to drive down here and my daughter was like, “These plants look nice.” I’m like, “Look at the soil.” She said, “What about it?” I said, “Think about the soil on our farm and what color that is.” She’s like, “Yeah, it’s different.”
The soil looks like sand and impoverished soil, dusty horizon. How much of its eroding? The air is dust. That’s low organic matter soil. Let’s say those are almond orchards there, and then they’re spraying with glyphosate. There’s zero competition there. There are zero roots in between those trees and that’s going to desertify.
If you are tilling every year or even twice a year, you have to put the steroid injection into that soil. I think about it a lot like your body. It’s a similar ecosystem approach. You might feel amazing on round 2 or round 3 or round 4 of ciprofloxacin and you’re like, “Whoa.” At that point, you’re going to probably have to take something on the other side to boost your energy because you killed your microbiome. You might develop a mild amphetamine habit or something. You can cobble it together with your yin and your yang of different substances, or you can focus on health, get enough rest, and eat good. There’s a different way to go about it.
[bctt tweet=”In favor of simplicity, start before you’re in the kitchen when you have high quality-based foods.”]
You said microbiome, but you’re saying the soil has a microbiome.
100%. Some of the most amazing probiotics out there are from soil microbiomes, too. There’s all this data that people use to eat soil for the microbiome.
Whenever we get real vegetables from any place, Laird’s like, “Do not wash that. Eat the dirt,” all the time if we know where it comes from.
That’s the traditional practice. The microbiome and soil are a mix of the rhizomes, the tiny root bits, and then there are also lots of nematodes. One of the devastating effects of glyphosate is that it kills the total microbiome.
How is that even legal?
They got nailed with billions of dollars of cancer, but you still see people springing it all around their yards.
Because it’s so easy and it looks pretty.
We’re talking about conceptions of beauty and how to rethink things.
It’s so insane.
The systems like we’re doing is the way that you see a natural forest arise, but it’s more productive than that. It’s more focused. There are a lot of different words out there. Regenerative is an umbrella term. Biodynamics is absolutely regenerative. Biodynamics has a whole philosophy.
Isn’t it a month cycle like the moon and this and that?
Yeah. Biodynamics is the next level of mysticism around agriculture. It’s not as scalable. One thing I caution is that organic is a great add-on to all these different things, but in and of itself, it doesn’t mean regenerative. Organic literally means no nitrogen-based stuff is used in the production, which is important. Nitrogen is extracted from petroleum products so the vast majority of produce is grown with gas for the tractors. Petroleum-based fertilizers are what pump up this impoverished soil to the degree that it can pop out a big season of tomatoes.
In the bigger system of non-regenerative agriculture, the impacts are glaring and they form a pattern that you have to have eyes for. Patterns of things like massive erosion, floods, and big rainfalls in the Midwest. Why does that turn into 30 homes lost in a mudslide? Another aspect of regenerative is when it rains a lot, the lagoons of manure outside of the hog and chicken plants overflow, and people would become violently ill.
There are a lot of systemic breaks around the system. I feel like there’s not enough in the news media connecting this to the agricultural mandate and calling out the question, “That $0.99 chicken breasts, was that worth that?” Whatever those products are. We’re making little tick downs in our per-pound prices on food and we’re seeing these massive environmental impacts and human health impacts.
Is it fiscally viable to figure out the way to move back? We have become addicted to everything big and fast. The animals get brought to maturity faster, cheaper, and all of these things. You’re even closer to it. Do you think there’s a way to get us to reorient back to saying, “We can create viable businesses. Prices will be a little higher.” Maybe we’ll ask people to buy less meat but more high-quality meat, and things like that. Your business is a great example. People like you go out there and say, “We can survive.”
I want to take a step back around wellness, good quality of life, and self-care. The other piece of this that’s so tragic to me is that if you look at communities around agriculture, there are high death rates of COVID. I see this in the COVID stats connected to obesity, and how prevalent it is in a lot of agricultural communities. Those communities have everything stacked against them. Forget whatever ritual you want or whatever agro-workout regime or wellness thing. It doesn’t matter if you’re breathing tetracycline.
That’s it if you’re in a toxic environment.
We put our animal agriculture into a state of constant inflammation. People who live near that or even 5 or 10 miles away are exposed to the same inflammatory agents. It’s the same system. It pains me to see that there’s no way out unless you’re in exceptional metabolism or very young or have a normal BMI in that environment.
In between the mix of the environmental toxins that you’re supposed to and then the limited access you have to food, you’re boxed in. It’s important to say it’s elitist, but it’s not just elitist around access to resources. It’s elitist around the air and the water that you’re allowed to breathe. People living within three miles of feedlots in the southeast have been shown to have doubled the incidence of low birth weight and stillborn, these horrible indicators around pregnancy.
The whole system around the agricultural system is not even the people working there, it’s living near there. It’s in your water. It’s in your air. Forget wellness. Just basic decent health is unattainable. That’s a huge cost to agriculture. If we talk about the justice that is in the conversations, if you were to look at a system around food that had a different objective around planetary health, there would be huge inequities that would be addressed by virtue of changing the system and the reliance on petrochemicals. Also, the terrible endocrine-disrupting chemicals that are used pervasively in agriculture to hurt pests.
There’s data that’s all in the spread for this one. I’ve seen as high as 52% and as low as 35% of meat produced in America is thrown away. One way to increase is to make less. I know from running a restaurant company that if something’s expensive, watch that. In any restaurant, if somebody’s got high-quality something like we use good oils everywhere in our company that is expensive, we manage the hell out of the oil. Things that are less expensive, the salt or whatever, you’re not as cognizant of. Certainly, if things were priced differently, there would be wastage management automatically, like any precious thing.
Our health and the health of our planet are very precious. If there would be a way for people to understand that the food that they’re consuming that they’re putting into this precious vessel, they should honor themselves. We’ve all been raised with this idea of like, “It’s got to be fast. It’s got to taste good. It’s got to be an expensive dish. There’s got to be a lot of it.” It’s an interesting thing. Let’s say you owned a giant meat company or fowl company, would there be any steps that they could take besides getting more lobbyists in DC to say, “We’re going to make this little change this year.”
From my perspective, that would be access to the outdoors for animals and natural light.
You mean animals outside.
If I ran a big one, that would be my goal, like, “This year, we’re going to have 10% of our animals raised outside. Next year is 20%.” A part of that is addressing density. Pew Charitable Trusts is a very reputable organization. They did an analysis on CAFOs and CAFO workers’ confinement animal feeding operations. 99.5% of American meat is raised.
They showed in terms of worker safety that when the very powerful ventilation systems in any of the hog or chicken plants break, they have eight minutes to get all living life out of there or they will die because of the toxicity in the air. That’s what’s happening in there if you take out these massive ventilation systems. That’s how bad and concentrated this is.
Animals evolved to be outside. That’s the first step. What’s unfortunate to me around organic is that it doesn’t have any mandate for us and access. Seasonality is also important here. I’m not saying year-round, depending on the area. I’m not going to be stupid and say keep the chickens outside in the snow. There’s a time and a place. At least for the summer, for the areas where you do have an eight-month season of sun, have animals be outside.
If people were at their regular conventional grocery store, if it wasn’t grass-fed, raised, whatever, what’s the safest meat for them to eat? It gets messed with the least.
Toxicity load, avoid the chicken.
Especially women, right?
We eat more chicken because we’re trying to be healthy.
More than half of the chicken sold in every grocery store has feces on it, and other animals, but it’s mostly from chickens. Chickens are small and they’ve got pretty fragile intestinal tracts. If you’re slaughtering it, killing it, and de-feathering it, there’s a pretty high contamination risk because it’s all right there and you’re going very fast.
In the case of beef, when you kill a beef, you hang it up after it’s been knocked and killed by its Achilles tendon, at that point, you eviscerate the entirety of its intestinal tract. It still has the hair on it at that time. All the viscera and blood come out in one fell swoop unless it’s kosher and then the hide comes off, at which point you have some exposed extra muscular fat. You have no time when there are any feces right near the beef where there’s any cut meat exposed. Then it’s completely chilled down and then cut.
The contamination risk is real, but it’s as much about somebody’s sneezing on their knife. Whereas in chickens and poultry, there are a lot more feathers and a very delicate intestinal tract. They’ve got muck all over them usually, especially if they’ve come out of a confinement feeding operation where they’re in the dark, debeaked, and walking around in their own feces. They’re a particularly dirty species in the way they’ve been raised. It’s from a pure contaminant load and also availability.
In most grocery stores now, you can get a grass-fed and grass-finished product, at least in the freezer, at least a ground beef. That’s going to be your best choice. Unfortunately, there are no scaled poultry operations where you can get a premium product. Look at the prices of my chickens. Our chickens now are $30. It’s bananas. It still ends up being about $10 a pound. Our chickens are between $6.99 and $9.99.
Less than a good fish.
It’s not that on a per pound basis, you can’t get a cut of beef. Ground beef is less than that. It’s not like it’s three times per pound. The reality is that the baseline is so low because we crushed it with chicken. We have figured out how to make it cheap and disgusting. We’ve done an amazing job. The crazy thing with American chicken is it’s all dipped in a bleach solution to try to control those feces. Even despite that, it’s 50% contamination.
It always seems like we do so much work like big ventilation systems bleaching to correct something that we’re not doing right at the beginning part of it. I always find that fascinating. “Fix it. Fix that. Fix this,” and not going to the root.
It’s like our medical system.
I was just thinking that. It’s like, “We’re dealing with the symptom. We’re not dealing with the cause.” Maybe I’m realistic, but I believe that it’s moving. Enough people and people like you who are out there showing and doing, I believe it’s making a shift. Our children are being raised with this constant conversation. Millennials have a different sense of understanding than, let’s say my generation. With ground beef, it would be like, “I live in a place and I only have one market and one access.”
I’d say grass-fed and finished beef. In general, the less fabricated you can get something, which means less cutting, the fewer points of contamination there are. Even in a Belcampo or high-quality meat purveyor, the more points of contact with a knife or with a person, that’s more potential for risk.
It’s like a process. We think about processes in general.
If you’re going to buy a chicken, get a whole chicken at that point. Don’t get something that’s been cut so you can control things by having less processing. I’m not going to suggest you buy a meat grinder if you want ground beef. Keep in mind that when you’re told to cook beef to 160 degrees when we all know beef is delicious at 127 to 130, that’s simply so you can kill the pathogens that the USDA is not competent for and have been eradicated by the systems in production.
That’s the only reason you’re asked to cook it to that level. It’s not because the meat in and of itself has anything inherently bad for you when it’s raw. There’s nothing about raw meat, raw chicken, and raw pork. There’s trichinosis potentially. That’s also a pathogen though. There’s stuff that gets into meat, but trichinosis is also a sign of poor animal husbandry. It’s a sign that happens in confinement in highly stressed animals. You get pathogens that live on poor-quality meat. They’re saying effectively, “Because this might have happened, how about you overcook everything?”
“Let’s make sure it’s dead. Let’s double kill it.”
It’s like, “You got this cheap meat and there are all these free E. coli on it. Make sure you kill all that.” Then you got dead E. coli on your food, too. It’s a crummy bargain that we’ve gotten the cheap ticket on meat, the price point. When I think about the amount of buffet culture in the US where it’s filet mignon for miles and when you see that banquet meals are always these filets or ribeyes, that kind of thing, this culture of that type of abundance has a huge amount of cost for us. We signed off on all the little decisions and now we’re at the end of the movie and we’re like, “This is not where we want to be.” We definitely have to now unpack those individual decisions and say, “What was that worth to you?”
Does Belcampo have zero emissions or negative emissions?
Our carbon footprint is net negative impact. We are actively putting carbon into the environment. That’s for my ruminants, for my monogastric, my pigs and chickens. I’m working on documenting that. They’re fed grain and we feed them organically. It comes from the Midwest. It’s complicated. In 2019, I took them out of the program and we had local grain, but it’s hard for consumers to understand that. It’s a little challenging on that one. The carbon footprint, I haven’t figured it out yet for those but since 2013, we’ve been tracking carbon sequestration with a third party in our own soil. We have tracked significant increases in the carbon in our own soil.
I have to admit, there’s something interesting and disconnected for me as a consumer. I was saying this to my friend. I lived part-time in Hawaii. Laird grew up on a pig farm and they would have to slaughter pigs and things like that. That’s why he has a great appreciation because of how smart they are. Even how thick their skull is and all the nuance about the animals.
Sometimes I was looking at myself, and in some ways, I felt so hypocritical. I’d see pictures of you with the baby pig. I had two pet pigs with Laird because we had a big piece of property in Maui. We had two pigs, Ginger and MaryAnne. It’s like, “I have a dog. I love animals,” and then I will eat meat. I know at Belcampo, you let the animals be with their mothers naturally.
When I saw you with the baby pig, you had a relationship with the animal. You will kill the animal and eat the animal. In a way, I was like, “I have to look at myself at that, too, and say, ‘Would you be a part of that?’” That’s the other thing that we’ve missed out on when we’re so civilized now, that we’re not part of the whole process. When you talk about those things that are valuable, if you took care of the animal or at least saw the animal or one time participated in killing the animal, when you would eat the animal, you would value it very differently.
I don’t subscribe totally to the idea that you have to be comfortable killing an animal to eat it.
[bctt tweet=”Farming is extractive. Regenerative farming is leaving the land more fertile than you found it.”]
I don’t mean comfortable. I just mean not being like, “It’s okay to go and get it at the store.” With fishing at least, when you fish, you see the fish.
We do a real disservice to our children in how much food doesn’t look like anything that it came from. Like how the chicken strips are shaped as they came out of a machine. They’re square. A lot of the kid food is made into stars and shapes. My kids love chewing on bones. My kids would teeth on bones. They love meat. They love eating real food. We have this idea that to make it palatable, we have to make it look like a toy. That’s a weird innovation that we came up with in the past ten years. It doesn’t make any sense.
Have you ever been around a kid that realizes that a certain food comes from a certain animal for the first time? It’s trippy because they’ll eat this thing because it is in a shape and they’ll be like, “This comes from that animal.” That epiphany when they’re 3 or 4. I want to talk about being the boss. You’re into food, but you’re in the business and you’ve been the CEO. Do you sleep? How do you do it?
It has gotten a lot better in the past few years.
What does that mean better?
Early on, I was a total workhorse and crank and travel, but I’ve gotten better. I prioritize sleep. There are certain things I don’t do. I don’t watch TV at all. I never watch movies. There are certain whole areas of my life that I don’t do.
You don’t give up time for that. You put the time either into your family or your work.
Unfortunately, it’s probably been five years since I’ve read a book that wasn’t a business book or something related to getting ready for a presentation or something like that. I tend to work better with boundaries and parameters. I have no trouble with driving. At times, finding a place to focus and taking away some distractions is key.
What would you say would distract you? I don’t consider children a distraction.
That’s what I mean by not having a show that I’m into. Here’s how I am with this kind of thing. If I watch a TV show or even if I read a book where it’s a series and I am fascinated and I get obsessive about it, I immediately go to Wikipedia, and then I read the whole future of it so that I no longer have an interest. Just a little grim. There are some things where I can’t do that in my life. I know that by working hard, there’ll be a time in my life when I can do a lot more things. The key thing is I coach myself on seeing everything as an opportunity for growth, using that language in terms of looking at challenges and adjusting my mindset in every single challenge. I don’t vent. I don’t think it’s functional.
Do you have one friend that you can go, “Uh.”
Yeah, occasionally. The idea of de-handling negativity by vomiting it out, I found to be non-functional. I list some things that are helpful like, “Cut out things that can become obsessive distractions or that maybe represent ways that you’re procrastinating.” When you need to take relaxation time, take time for a focused downshift. Take time to do something mindful that allows you to reset, that doesn’t put things off.
I say this having done it the other way. I say this having had times in my life when I was drinking wine every night and when I was losing myself in Instagram or things. There have been moments in my life when I haven’t managed this. This is more than five years in the rearview mirror, but all the good has come from looking in the face of like, “What are you avoiding through that habit?” It’s not that you can’t take time, that’s downtime, but be mindful and present and let yourself disengage when you’re looking to unwind.
You’re saying be in it and then when you’re choosing to unplug, do it in an active way that supports you in the unplug, not just living in those middle zones sometimes.
Yeah. As a woman in leadership in the past few years, I have done a lot more of being more vulnerable with my team and being less afraid that people will doubt me if I express what’s scary for me.
Give me a scenario and work that would scare you.
At the start of COVID, I started doing daily team meetings. With every meeting, I got pretty woo-woo on it and said, “Let’s do gratitude of what we’re feeling thankful for.” It is very much how I want to do things, but I hadn’t brought that part of myself to work before because I didn’t feel like it was how I wanted to show up.
During COVID, I started doing that and people loved it. I was like, “I brought this other part of who I am.” I do gratitude all the time with my kids and in my own life. If I’m feeling down, I try to focus on gratitude. We started doing that. It was a part of my personality that I was able to bring to work. Another thing that I’ve done in a way that sounds patronizing, but it isn’t patronizing when I have done it, which is like, “Why don’t we take a deep breath?” Not like some diving, “You should take a breath and chill down.” It’s saying, “This is overwhelming. I’m going to take a deep breath and think about this.”
Another key thing has been asking for time to make decisions and saying, “I’m hearing you. I need a minute to reflect. I feel overwhelmed by this right now and I need some space.” That’s something that I would have been afraid to do. I used to be balls to the wall, like, “Go do.” I have a lot of decisiveness and I have good intuition on business, but it’s been good to ask for permission sometimes to be like, “I need a minute to reflect on this.”
Don’t you think that’s also you wearing your leadership longer and feeling comfortable? I feel like sometimes people get into positions of leadership and then be like, “A leader does this, this, and this.” We do that and then all of sudden, you go, “I’m a leader and I’m going to do that, but I’m also going to take a moment if I need to ask for it.” Get comfortable in defining what that role is that genuinely reflects who you are.
Living in Italy and being in that business probably trained you a lot to be around males. The meat business feels like it’s male-oriented. It doesn’t feel to me that it even occurs to you that you’re female though in that way. I know about your business, but I was like, “I’m going to speak to Anya and I’m going to try to get a sense of her.” I said to Laird, “It’s interesting.” It comes through the page or video, somebody pulls you off, you seem capable and it wouldn’t occur to me like, “She’s a female CEO,” or, “He’s a male CEO.” That’s very powerful and important.
It doesn’t occur to me a lot. There are things that when you’re trying to solve for what you don’t want to be, you end up in a pickle. Early on, many people in the meat industry were dismissive of me and my business because they said, “She’s good at marketing.” I’m like, “I got a product that blows you out of the water.” I was like, “I’m not good at marketing.” I’m not good at logistics. I hate logistics.
I was trying to prove myself sometimes in fields where it didn’t resonate with what I was particularly interested in, so having the power to step aside. My approval ratings as CEO of my company went from probably 65% to almost 90% in the past few years. I don’t think I was doing a great job leading the company in the early years because I wasn’t leading it from a place of my own integrity and balance.
It wasn’t until I started taking more time for myself, being more engaged with my kids, and being more present in my personal life in a lot of ways, that I was able to connect with people in a way that they felt the resonance and felt heard. A lot of things in my life came together. My ratings have improved dramatically and my company’s performance is far better. It had to do with bringing the company’s mission in line with my personal values.
Earlier, I had been trying to be a luxury brand and I don’t give a hoot about luxury, so that didn’t ring true. I was going to fancy conferences where there were fancy car people and then I’d be there and be like, “We’re fancy because we’re expensive,” but I’m like, “I want to radically change the Earth.” Just buying my meat, it’s super expensive. It looks like you’ll have enough money to buy it. It was not a good fit.
When I brought it into Revolutionizing Meat for the well-being of people, the planet, and animals and embraced that, I also stepped forward as the face of the brand or the brand advocate in a way that I had been behind the scenes before. The media has always been interested in me because I’m a female CEO of a meat company and it’s a cool story. I’ve gotten some big media coverage, but I hadn’t proactively stepped into the brand role.
I did that by starting in a very thoughtful way around, “Here are my values and here’s how they support the values of the brand.” In that transformation for myself, a lot of things came into place. Up until a couple of years ago, I’d be leaving the office early and I sent a group email, “I’m leaving the office early to do X, Y, and Z.” You don’t need to do that. If you get your stuff done and you’re confident in your leadership, it’s almost like the girl doth protest too much. You don’t need to cover for that. It was settling into that and getting into my comfort in that role.
I hired a co-CEO to handle all operations with the objective of becoming an executive chair within a year or two because now we’re rapidly scaling our eCommerce business as a result of COVID. We need some real operational firepower and I want to begin to work on broader brand advocacy and the product side. That’s something that started noodling on a few years ago about where I see myself thriving in this. You don’t have to prove it by doing it all. You can step into the role of doing what you do best.
When I talk to our team now, I tell them, “What I do best is people, product, and brand. That’s what I focus on. This is so and so. He handles this,” or, “She handles that.” What’s been good growth for myself is to own what I’m world-class at, and then let the other pieces circle around me on that. That confidence helps.
COVID has been an amazing leadership experience. I loved it. I’ve loved the chance to lead in a crisis like this. I’ve loved the intimacy and connection that I’ve had with my team, even though we’re remote. I also love the way that in all aspects of life, it’s made things super clear, what’s working and what’s not in everything. It’s been very helpful for me and my business. I’ve also been thrilled because my restaurants are doing well.
How many are there?
There were nine. Now we have six. We closed three at the start of COVID.
Do you mean close them for good?
Yes, our New York location is in an enclosed mall.
The rent is expensive there.
Even with vast concessions, the enclosed mall did not feel like it was going to be on its feet.
It’s eighteen months away or something.
The same with our location in Marin, also in a mall. The malls were hurt. In fact, that one location I have opened that is still in a mall in San Mateo is a challenge. It’s 1 of my 6 right now. It’s super hard because people don’t want to go back to malls right now.
What’s that call like when you’re like, “We have to shut that down.”
That was black and white to me. I was tracking my food delivery numbers. I was fortunate that I had invested in all my tech and platforms. Eight months prior to COVID starting, we’ve been exploring delivery-only restaurants as a way of cutting overhead. Communities like here in Malibu, wouldn’t this be a great place to be able to get Belcampo delivered? I could rent a 300-square foot kitchen and do maybe $15,000, $18,000 a week. It’s a small load, but small overhead.
I was looking at that business model. In preparation for that, our team built up all the operational synergies to support excellent food delivery execution. When COVID hit, we were ready to go. We had our own app. We had everything linked together. One thing that people don’t understand about restaurants and why it’s been so hard in COVID is that you give your guy behind the counter and all of a sudden, he’s got eight iPads behind him. He’s dealing with a mask with a customer trying to have interaction and then buying and there’s a little like, “Ping.” That’s the DoorDash. They’re all on different iPads, and then he has a key them into the register.
A lot of restaurants are not able to execute because it’s phenomenally complex to get. It seems like, “Just put your thing on DoorDash and you’re good to go.” It’s not that easy. You have to train them all on those tickets, how they come in, they have to be transferred. Somebody will adjust the volume down on the iPads one day and then all of a sudden, you lose 30 orders. It’s super complex.
It sounds like you haven’t had that happen before.
We had done all that work and we’ve got everything going, so we were ready to roll. Our eCommerce started to pick up. We shut some down that we’re not likely to emerge for two years or so. Because even after COVID or whatever it’s going to happen next, even when that happens, we’re all going to feel a little more edgy about viruses and contamination for a while. I don’t know how much of this is going to pop back up.
I was aggressive in shutting those down and aggressive in laying off all my front-of-house staff. We were able to cut costs pretty dramatically. We had some rough bumps on things on technological issues and stuff. By May, we were in a good spot and we’ve continued to grow. Because of the interest we’ve had in the eCommerce platform, I have gone up 30-fold on my eCommerce sales since pre-COVID. We hadn’t done much on it before, but we realized there was a massive opportunity. We’re banking on consumer habits changing.
That’s a good thing to bank on.
You’re in grocery channels. We’re looking at grocery channels and it’s so hard with expensive products that cost a lot to make. The margin is so difficult to maintain.
You can’t pass any savings at all on to your customer. If I’m sitting in Mississippi right now, can I order from you?
Yeah, we ship nationwide. We have fulfillment centers now all around. It’s been exciting building that out a bit. Now I’m hoping with my new partner coming on who’s going to handle all the operational logistics of scaling.
Congratulations to them.
It’ll be an amazing day because that’s not my forte.
You have two children, a son and a daughter, and you’re a single mom. Let’s say it’s been a kick-ass week, meaning an ask kicker, and it’s the end of the week. Do you have a gear shift from CEO to mom? I used to tell my kids sometimes, “It’s the end of the day. I need you to understand.” I’m tapped out. I would also give them the heads up that I didn’t have as big of a capacity to communicate with them.
Do you have practice or something when you’re going from one hat to the other? Have you learned that? How has that been? Because that’s a lot. Your kids are young, so they like their mom. When it comes to my house, my kids are like, “What’s up? I need food. I’m going to need some clothes. Get out of my way.” You’re like, “Oh.”
[bctt tweet=”Thinking about competition is a complicated way to procrastinate. It’s a socially acceptable way to procrastinate.”]
I already felt that with my daughter. She’s close to that. I definitely noticed I didn’t have my boundaries as clear, I was more emotional, and didn’t have the appropriate guardrails when she was younger. She became more anxious and volatile as a result. I noticed that as my mirror and adjusted it. I feel like a couple of years ago, it’s a lot better pattern.
I practice. It’s not my kid’s job to soothe me. It’s my job to soothe them. The best thing I can give them is clear boundaries about how not to aggravate me. That’s a healthy thing to do. This is something that I struggled with early on. A lot of new moms do. You want to be endlessly available. Clear boundaries, in anything in a relationship, make everything healthier. We just don’t eat outside of the kitchen. We stay in our beds all night unless it’s a special occasion. We have the boundaries piece.
Do they listen?
Yeah. We get there, depending on which thing. Both my kids were both without me one night so it doesn’t always work.
If you’re not at home. You’re on a special trip.
The key first step though is it’s never your kid’s job to soothe you. My choices to be in a highly stressful position are 100% my choices. My kids just want to have a mom. I tried to guardrail that. I wasn’t always successful at doing that and I still am not. My daughter says, “It seems like it’s hard to be an adult.” I had a rough day. She’s like, “You’re doing a good job.” I was like, “Thanks.” The key thing is they’re not there to soothe you. I don’t feel like my children should ever feel like I need a hug. That’s my own discipline around it. I feel like I need to show up for them as a consistent, loving, firm presence. It’s like the not watching TV. I don’t do a lot of mom’s stuff. I don’t hang out with other moms.
You seem like you would sit around and do arts and crafts with a bunch of moms.
If there’s a playdate, I’m like, “I’m dropping the kid off.” If there’s a birthday party, I’ll often drop them off. I don’t do socialization pieces of things.
If you’re not watching TV, you are not obliged to go to 4-year-old birthday parties. That’s all I’m saying.
You don’t have to do that stuff. You can make a choice.
Do you ever feel weird or guilty? Do you ever trip out on yourself?
You don’t do that?
No. I don’t think that my daughter’s perception of me is going to change whether I stick around for the ice cream party or not. For birthday parties and stuff, I do. I say to them, “You’ve got two birthday parties a year, but I’m not going to spend every weekend going to birthday parties.” I also don’t think it’s healthy for a child to see a parent whose entire life is dedicated to serving them. That’s not a functional attitude for life. That’s not going to serve your kids because when they then come out into the real world, they’re like, “Who’s serving me?”
The reality is you need to fit in and support and you need to be part of a team. Through my own actions, I try to show them, “I am here for you whenever you need me.” I am a single mom. “Unless I hire weekend help, I’m not going to be able to get you involved in a complicated sports situation.” We choose things that we can do together. We do piano and I play music. I do that with my daughter and I’ll figure out with my son if that’s his track or something else. I have some activities that I dive into with them. It’s like you give your power away if you sign up for, “The next fifteen years, I’m going to be on the fruit duty at the event.”
That’s my favorite. My youngest daughter is always like, “You don’t want to come work at the school, the lunch thing?” I’m like, “No, I don’t. I pay for you to go there already. If you need some support, I’ll help you. I don’t want to come on Tuesday and Thursday.” I appreciate that. Here’s the other thing and this is why I wanted to ask you. Because you’re working and you’re doing it this way, a lot of women don’t know how to do it in a way that they’re unapologetic. They do it in a way that’s comfortable for them and that includes parenting.
It’s important to still realize you can be a good, loving, supportive, and present parent without sometimes having to do all of those other things. Having said that, if you choose and you want to do all those things, that’s great, too, as long as it feels good to you. A lot of people, now especially with helicopter parenting or whatever, I triple guess myself all the time. Those are my thoughts. Those are beliefs being put on me by the outside going, “Sweetie, good job.” That’s not me.
I have certain things that I orient around. I cook my kids’ dinner every night.
What are the rules around food for the kids?
They can eat anything that they want but, in my home, there are pretty limited options. At home, I bake bread so I always have bread that I’ve made or some carbs that I make. I make them pancakes or waffles.
They’re going to be so bummed out when they move out of your house.
My son always says to me, “Mom, you’re such a good cook.” He’s so cute. My daughter, too. They’re very complimentary. If they know that they get good food, they appreciate good food.
I’ve seen some of the moves you’ve made.
My daughter will eat the salted anchovies out of the jar. She’s into marrow bones.
If they go to a friend’s, they can have whatever they want.
Anything they want. I try to have no rules because when you create forbidden fruit, you create compulsion. My kids definitely have the thing when we were staying at an Airbnb and they’re like, “There’s a toaster.” I am also obsessive about my house. I try to have stuff that does multiple things. I have a toaster oven that I use for baking and then I have pans and all this toast bread on the stove. I don’t want to have a big toaster. They’re so excited about toasters or bagels.
The good thing is that when I see my daughter going to town when they get older, they get more of the mentality around like, “I’m going to eat a lot of that.” She’s like, “I feel so sick.” I said, “Sit with that feeling right now. Let’s think about that next time you decide to get pizza and pasta at a restaurant. Let’s think about how you feel right now. Does that feel good?” There’s a certain no-fly zone. I wouldn’t want them to go to McDonald’s or something but broadly, I want them to eat everything and explore everything.
Let them have one fast food and they will have the worst stomach ache after.
The other thing is when we travel, I bring food with us but I don’t stack up on snacks. I’m not a big fan of snacks.
If they’re getting the good stuff, they’re full. They won’t need to snack.
You don’t need to bring the thing of Cheerios everywhere. Your kids are totally fine. Their blood sugar is not going to crater. You don’t need to always have a banana in your bag. You also don’t need to have water all the time. There’s this thing that they’re hyper delicate, tropical, or a kid that needs spritzing with water. They don’t need it. Kids can go six hours without water. Unless you’re hiking in the sun, they’re going to be fine.
The best thing to get your kids to try something new is that they’re hungry. That’s how to make them want something. I don’t think enough parents let their kids experience waiting between meals where they’re so stoked and they’re digging in with Gousto. That’s something you learn as an adult and it’s a great skill. It’s a great thing to be able to experience that.
It’s also healthy. To eat when you’re really hungry is healthy.
That’s the other thing, too. I’m not like, “Get up and you have to eat breakfast.” It’s like, “When you’re hungry for breakfast, we can have breakfast.” It’s not, “You got to get food in your system.” We’ve developed a lot of odd things around parenting and understanding of children and food that are maladaptive and to the detriment of our kid’s health.
We have no kid’s food in my house. My kids eat food. There’s nothing special for kids, and it’s fine. If you want your kids to develop an adventurous palate, make them wait in between meals and feed them everything that you’re feeding. I also don’t freak out. If they don’t want to finish something, no problem. It’s totally fine. We keep it lowkey around that.
Do you lose sleep over anything? Do you have something that you’re like, “I’m always wrestling that.” Are you just knocking things down as you go?
I struggle at times with task completion, but I’ve been working with myself. I thought it was procrastination or I set a lot of unreasonable deadlines with people. I’m like, “I’ll get that to you by Wednesday,” and then it’s Thursday, and then I think, “Why hell did you do that?” There’s no expectation. It wasn’t needed by that date.
At times, I get myself into a cycle of commitments that don’t add up for me and don’t recognize that sometimes in my own mind, I need to reposition myself by saying, “If you’re going to do thoughtful work that’s going to make a meaningful difference, you’re not a task deliverer anymore.” I’m having to reposition that.
I have troubling anxiety at times around minute tasks and things that I could easily pop out. There’s that thing. That’s when I practice the mini-mini-horizon that’s like, “Just do the first thing.” I can think of a few of them as I’m talking about this. They are things that I personally put off. I’ve learned to think about them more as, “What is it that’s happening behind the scenes that are making you take your time?”
Sometimes I’ve had the revelation that’s like, “That’s not something you want to do because that’s not what you should be doing right now. Just because you committed that to somebody, it’s not a key priority for the company. You’re doing that to manifest that they’re a priority or do it because you think you should.”
There are some things that are like, “Many things can wait and you can take some more time on.” This is a practice. When I do find something that I’m struggling with, it’s like, “Just do it. Send the email. Finish the thing.” I’m like, “What is tied up in that for you that’s slowing you down? What’s in there?” Sit with that then say, “Is that rational? I don’t think that’s the right path. How do I unwind that and get myself into a different position?”
It happens a lot.
That’s something that’s been helpful for me because I criticize myself when I don’t complete things. I have some mentality that I’m letting people down or that I need to be working harder or that I’m taking too much time for myself. There’s another piece of it though, which is, “Anya, you want to show up rested. You want to show up working out, happy, and doing enough for yourself that you’re not drinking eighteen cups of coffee a day.”
There are a lot of things that I also think, “What else can you think about answering that’s as important as that task?” That’s a hard balance for me. I’m not the person who’s checking every email on her phone and responding to every email in 30 seconds. Coming to terms with that, sometimes in my company, that’s an expectation. It’s a little bit frustrating because I’m pretty thoughtful and I do better when I take my time. If I rush to respond to something, there’s reflection.
There is this instant response culture that has grown in the past few years, where expectations that you’d have to respond like, “Got it,” and thumbs up to the email chain. You’re like, “Thank you.” I’m not that person and I’m okay with that. When I struggle with things, I’ve learned to try to take that step back and say, “What else is stressful for you about this that you’re not just lazy? What else is going on?” There’s always something under there, but it takes a little more reflection.
It’s important because a lot of times, you’ll get yourself in something that you think, “I don’t even want to be in this anyway.” How do you unwind it? The other thing you’re saying is more of the extension of you’ve been showing up to work for the last few years more the way you are. When you set expectations with people, I will respond. It may not be the way you respond or in the timeline you respond but I will respond. Then all of a sudden, you are functioning by your own timeline. That’s important.
If you make the decision to respond to every email in an hour, you make the decision to not be present to your family and to yourself. That’s a hard trade-off. I’m not prepared to make that decision. I’m not prepared to have an alert with every email so on a Saturday afternoon, when I’m snuggling with my daughter, I’m like, “Just one second.” That’s not functional for me as a person. There’s this trade-off to that. You also have to say, “It might not be when you want it, but it’ll be worth the wait.” You can’t put off everything. There are things that are hot and heavy and you want to get moving on.
You can explain that to your kid. It’s like, “I’m in the middle of this thing. It’s important. We’re winding it up. I’m going to deal with it.” Honoring them too that they can handle occasionally, like, “My mom shows up but right now, she’s in the thick of it.” They’re going to have those moments in their life too. It’s teaching them to communicate. Even at 8 years old, you can honor someone and say, “You’re smart. I’m going to communicate this to you and I’ll get back to you.” It’s funny because we’re always trying to do all of it all the time and that never seems to work out.
You have to be able to toggle from one mode to another. I also find that ease and relaxation happen after a little bit of time. The idea that you can drop in for half an hour, it’s like, “Give yourself a four-hour stretch where you’re not checking your emails for 24 hours.”
You grew up with Andrew, right?
Yes. We went to high school together.
A lot of smart people together. He was different with his skateboarding and sadness.
I said to him that I was going to be speaking with you. I said, “Is there anything that you felt was important that maybe I wouldn’t be able to see?” There were a few things. We’ve talked about some of them. He did say that there was a story that was now safe to talk about, which he didn’t tell me about. He wanted you to share the story about getting arrested but not in the United States.
This was when I was studying cheesemaking and I was touring Fetta facilities in the Peloponnese.
It’s such a good setup.
[bctt tweet=”What’s unfortunate to me about organic is that it doesn’t have any mandate for us and access.”]
It was during the Yugoslavian war. It was an anti-American climate. I rented a little baby motorcycle and I was getting around to these different dairies on this little motorcycle. I charged out of the rental place. I probably was six blocks away. I was sideswiped and the mirror on my motorcycle got dinged off. It wasn’t my fault. The police came and said, “You’re an American citizen. We can’t process you right now because it’s the day of the national election.” In Greece, when you vote, you have to go back to your town of birth and it’s mandatory. Generation after generation, they all have to go back to their birth town.
In the Peloponnese, which is more like a vacation community, a lot of people were out of town. Everybody was back to vote. They’re like, “We don’t have any police in town so we can’t register you as having had this accident and this claim.” I’m like, “I’ll pay for it. This is ridiculous.” I wasn’t hurt. Nothing happened.
A glorified Vespa.
They ended up escorting me to my hotel room and confiscated my passport. They took me to the local precinct office. That was okay.
How old were you?
- I didn’t have a passport at that point. I packed up my stuff, “Let me take that with me.” They took me to this police station. This cop and his kids were there. They brought me some pastries and I was locked in this room. It was fine. I was like, “This is a little weird.” I stayed there till about 10:00 PM. At this point, I didn’t know what was going to happen. They then said, “We have to go home now. We’re sorry but we’re going to have to put you in jail.” I’m like, “Okay.” It’s 10:00 PM.
I get driven in a cop car to a jail outside of town. Greece is not like the rest of Europe. I walked down this hallway and to my left, there’s cage after cage of men, all these prisoners, some kind of detention center, and there’s probably 30 or 40 guys in each of these cages. There are walls of chains. They’re like behind a garage door that’s all jail cell. They were in holding.
I’m the only woman. They walk me by and all these guys start screaming at me. It was terrifying. At that point, I’m vomiting. I’m like, “What is going to happen?” They take me to the warden’s office and they put me in a cell next to the warden’s office for the night. I remember changing and then realizing that they were watching me through a camera. I was afraid I was going to get raped or attacked.
I wonder why.
It was terrifying. The individuals who all interacted with me were like, “This is ridiculous. We’re sorry. We’re going to keep you safe.” That experience, 11:00 PM, walking past all these cells, and all these prisoners. They kept me in that jail cell. I hadn’t eaten or anything. I just had my stuff. I didn’t sleep. At around 10:00 the next morning, they came and got me. The other thing is, when I was in the first detention center, I called the embassy and they said, “With the war with Yugoslavia, things are extremely tense.” I realized that this is politically motivated. The American Embassy in Athens said, “If anything happens, you should scream.”
That was their advice?
Yes. They’re like, “Fight. Don’t give up.”
That’s reassuring. Good luck.
The next day, I was brought into a big courtroom. I got driven again in a car and I got brought into a big courtroom. The district attorney of this town came in and said, “We’re deeply sorry. We heard this morning that you’d been held in detention. It wasn’t your fault.” The guy was like, “I can’t believe it. I’m glad that you weren’t attacked. Sorry.” I then was let out. I hadn’t cried the whole time. I kept it together. I then went to a little town for two weeks and cried and chilled out. It was terrifying.
What hit you after?
It was frightening. It was one of those experiences where you have to stay present and ride it through. I was blessed and lucky. It reminded me of my privilege. Being exposed to arbitrary crazy and that you end up in a situation where you’re physically at risk was something that gave me perspective on the world and the perspective on how many people feel all the time.
In America, we don’t have many things that feel like they’re arbitrarily stacked against us. It was one of these things where it was like, “Because of the war in Yugoslavia, are you kidding me?” That time in Europe, it’s stripped away between working for my now revealed to be a mafioso boss in Sicily and then that time going to prison.
When I moved back, I had a hard time connecting with my peers because they were all still drinking, wearing bandage dresses, and going to clubs. I have grown up. I became a woman in my soul. I had been through a lot. It was hard for me to drop back into American culture. That was the type of growing up that happened to me at that time. It’s true, I went to prison in Greece.
Thank you, Andrew. Do you take care of yourself as well as you take care of the people and the animals all around you?
I do now. I’m much better at it. I’m good on sleep. I sleep a lot.
That’s the thing.
I eat well. I try to work out pretty frequently. I’m pretty good at it. I’m unafraid to say I’ve spent on that. I work with somebody for breath work. I do trainers to the degree that’s affordable. I could always do more. It’s the thing that I would spend more time on if I had more time. I’m also focused on wellness through diet and I spend a lot of time on things that I consider wellness adjacent, rendering my own suet, and canning meat. Those tasks have built a basis for me to have a healthy life. I do a lot now around grounding and meditation. That’s pretty new for me but it’s been transformative in COVID, handling the stress and volatility that’s been some practices that have come into play.
You think about Belcampo and the practice that your business is doing. Do you know how you have, like, “I have my sixth month, my one year, 3-year, and 5-year.” You’re going to always be pivoting, showing that in COVID. What would be your dream to participate in the bigger story?
I see us disrupting the meat industry by building a direct-to-consumer brand with real values that offer people a choice. People are cornered on meat. If you want to make the right choice, you can’t if you’re shopping in conventional channels. To me, the opportunity is to be a national meat brand for quality but quality in every sense of the word and do it in a D2C way, direct-to-consumer.
The disruption around COVID in the grocery channel and the long term is going to be massive. Grocery stores are going to be probably one of the worst hit at the tail end of this because of the distancing requirements and lots of changes in consumer patterns. There’s room for brands that can build stickiness with consumers to build direct relationships for products that they typically were buying out of the grocery store. That’s the opportunity I want to capitalize on. That’s the near term of that Northstar for me.
That’s my business. For the pieces for my business and personal line, I would love to get people cooking more. Your health starts in your kitchen. There’s so much power in reclaiming your kitchen. We outsource all of our food production to big corporations and then we all are fat, sick, and spending more on health care than we spend on food. That’s the end of the movie. The tools and the reskilling of the American home cook is a massive project that supports health. That’s something that interests me.
I’m as interested in wellness and health as I am in culinary where those two come together and being a voice for culinary that’s about health. Most of the food that’s celebrated in our food media is willfully unhealthy. Amazing, delicious food can be healthy. It seems like there are people who are making smoothies and are super skinny that are talking about food and then everybody else is distinctly unhealthy. Usually, it’s a lot of alcohol, a lot showcasing a willful indulgence in a way that it’s at the cost of health. I’m interested in being a voice that natural and traditional food is incredibly helpful or it can be and to show people a way to do that. Belcampo supports that. With protein, we’re delivering on that in terms of the ingredients.
If you were a newer customer, what would be a safe thing to order?
Start with the ground beef because that’s going to be something you can take out of the package and break the chunk into two and form into two burger patties. I guarantee it will be the best burger you’ve ever eaten. I love the fact that our meat doesn’t need a bunch of crap on it. You don’t have to mix it up or add an egg or put breadcrumbs in it to make it stick together. It’s going to be right out of the package differently. After the ground beef, I would say do a whole Cornish chicken and do a roast chicken like spatchcock chicken and whole roast chicken.
What about something that would be exotic or maybe a little more adventurous?
I’m interested in the keto diet or carnivore. I’m looking to eat more animal fat. I recommend marrow bones. It’s simple. You take them and put them in a 400-degree oven for about 35 minutes and then do a broil for a final maybe eight minutes. I put on top of that bone a little bit of flaky salt, some grated lemon zest, and some Italian parsley or just chopped parsley. It’s those three ingredients. It’s spectacular. You eat it with a spoon. It’s high in fat and a lot of collagen. It’s gastronomical, cool, and different but it’s easy to prepare.
The cool thing about marrow bones is you can keep them singly in your freezer and they don’t even need to be packaged because it’s high in fat. They don’t suffer from freezer burn. You can pull them out and throw them into even your toaster oven and cook them up. They’re fabulous. That’s an amazing treat. The other thing I’d say for a home chef would probably be cooking a prime rib or grass-fed. That stuff is fun to learn how to do. If you want a Northstar thing to do, a three-bone prime rib can be delicious. Our meat is tender. That’s an awesome choice there.
I’ve heard sometimes that if you cook meat, it’s better for it to be at room temperature before you cook it if you can. Not everybody can plan but straight from cold onto hot.
That’s true for most things. Keep in mind that with safe meat like my meat or other small producers, you can keep it at room temperature even for 24 hours and it’s fine, even a chicken. You’re not going to get sick from that. It can be longer than a few minutes out. I’ll take my steak out of the fridge in the morning and leave in plastic out and cook it that night.
That rule about the room temperature has to do with the thickness of the meat. If you have meat that’s thicker than an inch and a half, you want to have it be at a consistent warmer temperature. Otherwise, you’re going to have a gradient when you hit the pan that’s going to create way too big of a differential. You’ve had that experience where it’s almost dry on the outside but still raw in the middle. That is what we want to avoid with steak because the more even gradient is going to be more delicious and more tender.
When you have a thinner steak, less than an inch and a half, the heat from the surface area to volume ratio of cooking it in a pan is going to be sufficient to get total warmth across the whole slice. Anything thicker than an inch and a half. That will also apply to a chicken. I would always get a chicken to room temp. If you don’t have time to do that though, you could simply spatchcock it. Cut the spinal cord out and then flatten it.
You can Google how to spatchcock. There are plenty of hacks to do that. Honestly, if I had a three-inch-thick steak and I needed to cook it right then, I would cut it in half, just butterfly it, or cut it. It matters with the thicker cuts. You’re not going to have a problem with it. It’s not going to be unsafe but you’re going to have an unappealing level of clamminess towards the center of the meat.
The last question is if you had only one thing to put on your meat, you’re camping somewhere, what are you bring with you?
I always bring good salt.
What’s your favorite salt?
I use mostly Himalayan pink salt. I like the flavor. It’s sprinkly. I like the Redmond salt as well. I love Jacobsen Salt. I’m agnostic on the salt. I like all the different ones like Kosher. I don’t like table salt very much. A simple kosher salt, Himalayan salt, etc. Beyond that, I’ll bring good butter. I like the pairing of animal fats so using good butter on steak.
Do you guys have raw butter at your place?
Our beef is all beef breeds.
You’re not milking. You got to get that.
It’s a different breed.
See if you could get your ops guy to figure out how you can for your own use, raw butter. Laird is a freak about raw butter.
Cultured butter is so good.
Anya, what you’re doing is inspiring because you’re also putting your energy towards the change that we’re all confused about and have the desire to make. First of all, I love your business. I appreciate all the steps. I’ve heard you say that from the oils you’re using, to the gluten-free bonds, to every single thing from the beginning of the process all the way to the end, it has to be at the level that you’re talking about to be successful. It is a good example and a reminder to all of us that in whatever we’re doing, we do it that way. Congratulations. Thank you for your time.
Thank you for having me.
Thanks so much for reading. If you’d like, rate, subscribe, and leave us a review. All of my music was graciously done by Frank Zummo and Tom Thacker. If you want to see some of the behind-the-scenes action, follow me, @GabbyReece. Remember, don’t miss new episodes every Monday.
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About Anya Fernald
Anya Fernald is the co-founder of Belcampo, a farm-to-table supply chain complete with regenerative farm, full service butcher shops, and restaurants. She is an entrepreneur, chef, and agriculture expert. From founding a cheese co-op in Italy that led to micro-financing and investing in small family businesses, to founding Live Culture, Eat Real, Slow Food, to being asked by Alice Waters to serve as the Executive Director of Slow Food Nation in the bay area.