Kate Stoddard is a mother, social entrepreneur, environmentalist, and founder of Orchestra Provisions. She is passionate about finding regenerative solutions to mending broken food systems. In this episode, we explore how eating crickets could be the key to a sustainable food future.
Today we are joined by Kate Stoddard to explore how eating crickets could be the key to a sustainable food system.
Kate is a mother, social entrepreneur, and environmentalist. She has a Master’s in the science of nutrition and is interested in finding regenerative solutions to mending broken food systems. She is the Founder of Orchestra Provisions, an organization that is reimagining traditional protein sources by incorporating crickets into daily-use superfood blends.
In our conversation, Kate talks about how she discovered the benefits of eating insects and decided to build a product line to advocate for them. We discuss our rich history of entomophagy (eating insects), what has separated Western culture from this practice, and how Kate is overcoming the barriers to its re-adoption through her marketing.
Our conversation also covers the many reasons why insect protein is more sustainable than other sources, and how Orchestra Provisions is slowly shifting perceptions using their line of delicious spices, protein powders, and therapeutics.
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Kate Stoddard 0:00
So I'm also learning now at this point to take a lot of advice, and then also take some of it with a grain of salt. Because that's kind of one of my things is I'm a sponge and everything everyone says I'm like, okay, cool and I'm going to follow up on that, and I'm going to do this. And you can't really do that either. And also, not all advice is good advice, right?
Cory Ames 0:25
Eating crickets. Is this the key to a sustainable food system? Well, it's this question that we answered today, with Kate Stoddard, the founder of orchestra provisions. Hey, y'all, it's Cory here from the social entrepreneurship and innovation podcast. As always, I'm so grateful to have you listening. It's the show where we explore exactly what it looks like to build a better world together. And I'm so excited to be speaking with Kate today. Kate is a mother, social entrepreneur, and environmentalist. She has a master's in the science of nutrition, and is interested in finding regenerative solutions to mend broken food systems. As mentioned, she's a founder of Orchestra provisions, which is normalizing the practice of entomophagy. eating insects, within insects as ingredients approach to product development. The solution is multifaceted, addresses global food security, and is also an earth friendly solution to our protein problem. Kate and I talk about her motivation for impactful work. What about her character in particular, drew her to use her creative skills, capacities and energy to leave the world a better place. And then she found it. We also of course, talk about the case for crickets, and insects as food or protein source. We talk about why we should consider eating insects on a much wider scale. What's the nutritional value of of insects and crickets in particular, compared to other protein sources meat plant based, we talk about why this practice of eating insects hasn't been widely adopted in the United States in where it has elsewhere in the world. And finally, we talk about Kate's journey as a social entrepreneur, building orchestra provisions. Talk about the product line that they strategically selected to help with the adoption of integrating insects into folks. Food stories as Kate views. We talk about what's next for orchestra division moving forward. It's a really interesting conversation. I'm sure you'll enjoy it. I know I did. But before we dive in, I want to invite you to sign up for the better world weekly newsletter. It's a newsletter that I write, curate and publish myself every single Monday. Go to grow ensemble.com backslash newsletter. It's this newsletter that is our weekly discussion with our community of changemakers. And innovators from all over the world. Discussing all that it takes to build a better world go to grow ensemble.com backslash newsletter. Now right y'all. Here's Kate Stoddard from orchestra provisions.
Kate Stoddard 3:08
My name is Kate Stoddard. I am an Idaho native. I have a business called orchestra provisions. And we are working to confront global food security, and combat hunger as well as the environmental demands that our food systems are causing.
Cory Ames 3:25
Thank you so much for joining me, Kay. I'm curious. If we could start. I'm wondering what has drawn you in particular, like, what do you think about you has drawn you in particular to doing work that addresses such important issues in the world, just generally speaking.
Kate Stoddard 3:43
Yeah. It's interesting that the way that you worded that because that's what about me, and oftentimes, I'm talking about, oh, well, in grad school, I was doing a lot of really interesting research about iron deficiency, anemia, and so on, and so on. Or, you know, I have worked as a river guide for 15 years, and I have this huge connection with the natural world. But ultimately, I think it goes back to the very beginning. And the parents that I chose to come into the world to, and most of them are very impact driven, they're very, I would almost say strict to their values. And both of them, I would say, if they're not making their community a better place and imparting the world with, you know, we don't have so much time here on this earth. So every minute matters. I think both of them feel a lot of fuel when they are, you know, imparting a legacy and making the world a better place. So I grew up in that narrative, and I think it's just kind of natural for me to carry on that way of thinking, but I do kind of want to touch on exactly why the impact based business I essentially I'm not a business person, which makes me maybe more likely to be successful. I've learned because people trained in business they know that the levels of success on business are really low. And that it's an insane amount of work, I have the naivete to move forward with my impact in a business format, and I think be successful. So yeah, the grad school thing is very important in the story. Because after I had been, you know, I got my undergrad at Montana State University. And after that, I kind of moved into the wilderness and was a career river guide, or and still currently do a couple of trips. But the last 15 years, I've seen a really a common thread with river guides where they get closer to about 30 years old. And they realize, okay, I have to do something with this big experience, or I have to do something more that's bigger than myself with what I owe the skills that I have. And they go back to school. And that's what I did. I went to grad school, the National University of natural medicine, I got a master's in the science of nutrition, and that university at a really holistic perspective on the science of food, but also behavioral mechanisms for changing people's way to you know, use nutrition as a preventative form of health care, essentially, this really personal, right, it's like mother's love, first and foremost, but it's it's personal to people as religion and politics. And that's where I was kind of studying iron deficiency anemia. And I found a tribe in Africa that were vegetarian, but they had very few incidences of a number one public health concern, iron deficiency anemia. And so I was kind of thinking, like, what are these people eating? Turns out these Mopani worms is what they were eating, and they dried them out. And they're incredibly shelf stable year round. And they were able to actually avoid this kind of nutrient deficiency. And further in that research, I saw that the UN and FAO had been advocating for, you know, this is a food staple that could have a lot of impact in the world on a number of levels. So that is a long answer to your question, but I think it's all important.
Cory Ames 7:03
I think it is, too, from that point, then diving into that subject matter, too. Have you already eaten insects yourself of any kind? Or was there a particular kind of monumental moment where you decided to try them? Maybe crickets in particular, connecting to what your business is in now?
Kate Stoddard 7:22
Yeah, I'm not sure that I ever did. I, you know, I might have had like, a chocolate covered cricket or something kind of more in the novelty realm. And of course, I'm slowly eating a bunch. And then I think like, just for shock value out on the river, we would put salmon flies in our mouth, and then just let her guess, be talking, and they turn around and use or open your mouth. You know, and I think many times I was challenged to eat them, but it wasn't really like an enjoyable or conscious thing. Yeah. So when I figured out that this could be like a really monumental food staple. I was like, Well, you know, I'm the nerdy scientist that wants everybody to change their behaviors and start eating these bugs. So I had better, you know, start walking the walk essentially. So at the time, there weren't a lot of food grade insects available at scale, I ended up ordering a plethora of different sorts of insects to put in my cabinets. And I think I got crickets, grasshoppers, beetle. And I think there were a couple of others, and I put them in the pantry. And I was not wanting to ruin a meal. I'm a very food centric person, very active, I want to enjoy my food, and I want it to fuel me. But I don't have a ton of time to be messing around with, you know, potentially the risk of not liking it or not wanting to eat it. And so that became the problem, right is all right, well, if I am the one that knows that this should be a food staple, and I can't bring myself to eat it. How in the world? Am I going to convince others to do the same? And it's not really fair to do that, right. So one day, I went on a run. And I was just thinking, Alright, and every food story, generally, somebody has a spice or seasoning that they would add to, you know, their meal, even if it's just salt or pepper. It's the oldest trade and people know how to use them. They're pretty straightforward. So what if that was my first product is is the seasoning blend because it would carry the cricket? Well, cricket doesn't have a bad taste, it doesn't really have a descriptive taste. So it wouldn't affect the dining experience. And people wouldn't even really know if they weren't conscious of it. So that's kind of how the product was started is because of my own. I would say aversion to eating insects. And then I started kind of using those and I was like, oh yeah, this is it. You know, it's insects as ingredients. It doesn't have to be so scary as people think, you know, on Survivor when they make it such a big deal to eat a bug, right? Well, there are many things on Our food labels today that we can't even pronounce. We don't know what they are, they might not even be great for us because of you know, whatever they're trying to accomplish, whether it's to absorb moisture or make it tasty or whatever it is a preservative. Cricket is a whole food right? So why wouldn't we add that to the ingredient list if we if we're not compromising experience?
Cory Ames 10:24
That leads me into a question I have as to what are you advocating for as the ideal end result? Like? I'm thinking about it, especially in the context of a plate per dinner plate with what you have on it, the insects as some component of the meal? Where does that fit in? Is it is it a substitute completely for what might be like the primary protein? Meat, for example? Or in your vision in specifically the work that you do? Is it something that's a substitute on a sometimes basis? Or what sort of frequency? Or does it take over the whole food system? What's the end result that you're aspiring to for insects, adoption in the food system,
Kate Stoddard 11:06
our food systems, there isn't one solution, I don't think that crickets alone or even insects alone are going to save the world on the level we need saving, right. But I do think that they could be a really crucial piece to the puzzle. So any amount of food is kind of one of the philosophies I learned in nutrition school, if you're asking people to eat something good, instead of telling them not to eat something that is less good, whether that's for personal nutrition, or the environment, if they will just eat that good thing. And that positive way, they're gonna have less space in their belly for other things. So on a very simple level, any little bit of it that you eat, is going to have an impact, it's going to have an environmental impact and a health impact. I don't want to exclude anybody from this food story. I personally really enjoy a nice burger from time to time, you know, and I think like we, we've seen, you know, Meatless Monday or something, even that one day of people changing their behaviors can have great impact. So I'm not an extremist, even though it kind of feels like I am when I talk to people, because they're like, well, she's really, she's preparing me for the end of time, and she wants us to eat bugs, it's not really like that at all. I just want to provide an alternative that can have a great impact, I can't do it alone. It's not the only thing that's going to work. But on that note, I think that there are several ways people can be active in this right? If it's just using those spices, you're going to add value to something that normally doesn't have protein, or heme iron or calcium. So all of a sudden, your spices become a superfood. Are you replacing a beef steak? No, not at all. But over the course of the day, if you're using the spices, you might add up to what equates to a protein surfing, right where you pretty easily would you're not going to replace all protein by using spices, be clear on that. The protein powder is super exciting, because you absolutely can meet your daily needs, but at least the protein serving pretty easily. So yeah, maybe some days you are substituting and you're going cricket based protein, and maybe just incorporating it as a supplement will also be super impactful.
Cory Ames 13:21
Hmm, it's that sort of alternative protein, taking up some sort of slice of the pie that exists and placing some quantity of the calories that you might consume.
Kate Stoddard 13:32
Right. Yeah. And, and I look around at kind of the space, and it's super popular right now, right? Alternative proteins for kids have, you know, the nutritional value essentially, of a steak, beef without the environmental impacts. And also, it's a lot easier and more friendly, less inflammatory to the body. It's a whole food, it doesn't even need to be processed, really, other than grinding it up milling it. I look at kind of the artificial meat market now. And I'm thinking, Oh, my God, goodness, you know, is this sustainable? And then you start reading about it. And you're like, well, these are all these things that take a lot of energy to produce. And maybe in the long run, it's actually not sustainable at all. And it mimics meat, but it's not really a food that we evolved to digest or absorb. It seems really silly. It's like a whole bunch of different processes that require energy. And here we have the crickets low at the food chain. They reproduce quickly and efficiently and offer all sorts of nutritional they meet all sorts of nutritional needs that we have. So in that way, I hope that people can kind of open their minds and just see this makes so much sense and traditionally in our food story. Most humans come from genetic lines that used this as a food staple, not only an absence of other proteins, but just as a main food staple and it has been hijacked. Besides by some scientists that this is one of the reasons why we evolved so efficiently because of our ability to forage for this protein source in absence of other protein. But also one of the reasons why our brains grew so big because of our ability to forage for this really high, fatty protein source of food. So super interesting stuff.
Cory Ames 15:22
Definitely want to touch on on that once again. But as we're talking about this whole spectrum of the food industry, I think there is this thing that you can look from, I guess, the outside in and see a business like yours with a mission that it has, I think that you know, it's all insects and nothing else as a protein source for one. That can just be some sort of assumption. But I think that it might be important to talk about maybe the spectrum a little bit of there's, for example, there's a major difference between perhaps very conventional and traditional factory farming, in how animals are raised and treated, versus maybe what's happening a bit more as of late with the regenerative agriculture movement. For one, I think that those are, you know, way different ways in which we can interact with meat in animals in the food system, potentially. But I'd be curious to hear is there something similar in the space of insects that you see, or that you might foresee happening in the future? Something along that spectrum of like, there's going to be different ways in which insects are raised and cultivated for the sake of food?
Kate Stoddard 16:30
Yeah, absolutely. I don't even know where to start with this one. But essentially, it has been kind of a novelty industry. Up until now, we do have a lot of information on how to farm insects, especially because one of the ways that we we've been farming them is for a pet food industry, right? The rest of the animal kingdom knows that this is like an excellent, most excellent food source. So we do have that. But there are kind of problems in the industry with the scaling and all of a sudden, we're like, oh, yeah, you can see people are joining in the conversation. Alright, we should eat crickets. Well, now it's kind of this, like, Let's fund this to get bigger, right? So that we can actually feed the world. That's what we're trying to do. Insects are super interesting in the regenerative agriculture space, they are very efficient at converting feed into protein for human consumption. So they don't eat very much they eat kind of plant based matter, right? leafs, grasses, that kind of thing. One of the really interesting so the farm that I collaborate with, they use all food waste. So instead of that stream going to the landfill and creating more carbon emissions, the crickets love it. So for instance, like one example, cassava flour is very popular right now, especially for people who are gluten free, right, but the plant has fiber that we can't really digest well, the crickets love it. So instead of that becoming another waste stream, the crickets converted into human feed, you're not cutting down the rain forests to grow soy or corn for cows, right? It's just already there. You don't need that much of it. And you're not growing feed for crickets. So that format, that blueprint is really exciting. In addition to that, their excrement is called for acids, another product on the market to help rebuild topsoil. So it's really helpful as a natural fertilizer. So and then, of course, on that kind of topic, they require a fraction of the arable land, I said feed and water as competing protein sources. And that includes plant protein, the cow thing it's like, we know, plants, they require a lot of arable land and a lot of water. So yeah, it's really exciting to have this protein source that has the nutritional profile of beef, and also even more sustainable than plant protein. It's kind of like the perfect food in that way. And another thing that we'll say on the regenerative agriculture side is the ability for this to be a local protein source is very exciting, right? You could farm crickets indoor in Brooklyn and have a local protein source for a massive urban center. That's just cutting all sorts of carbon footprint out right like going to the slaughterhouse going to the packaging all the way across the country and back to New York City. And then in addition to that, it's really exciting because it's kind of like this skill that we can teach people, right? So it's like you give whatever the person a fish, they have a fish for the night, you teach them how to fish, they fish forever. These can be farmed at home for people that are really, you know, have their own farm or kind of subsist off of the land in that way. So that's kind of exciting because you can kind of give people tool to raise their own protein source and there was a, I'm going to misspeak here, but there were some Ivy Leaguers years back who did a project on this where they went into kind of rural communities with people that They were more agricultural but had problems with food access. And they built cricket farms together for them to be able to feed the families. So, yeah, I'm obviously really excited at the potential there. But it's pretty much a no brainer.
Cory Ames 20:15
You've mentioned way earlier saying that it's something of a piece to the greater puzzle. And that certainly seems to be true. In that all these potential solutions as to how we might have a more sustainable food system. There's a lot of different solutions, we probably should utilize as many of them as are feasible and make sense, right? Yeah, it's kind of an all hands on deck sort of situation here. So you are selling me, of course, the pitch here. I'm wondering, why haven't we adopted this practice here of consuming insects in the US? And as well? Are there other places in the world that this is this is much more common? I mean, you you mentioned earlier in the conversation already, what spurred all your research was finding situations elsewhere in the world where people did rely on on insects as necessary food sources?
Kate Stoddard 21:04
Yeah, big question again, and some theories and some actual traceable reasons. This, as I said, Yeah, as a traditional food staple for humans, and 2.5 billion people today have insects in their food story, it's a normal part of their diet. They tend to be people closer to the equator, and also in rural communities that never got separated from that reality. But also, I think closer to the equator is the reality that these are readily available year round, right. So as you travel further away from the equator, you have insects kind of coming in hatches, and less frequently because of the cold weather. So as people kind of started to travel out and move away from being nomadic people, 5000 years ago, modern agriculture, deems insects, pest, right, something that is actually eating your crops. So we named them bugs, even I have been struggling not to call them bugs. But what does that mean, they bug you? Like, do you want to eat something? That's a pest? No, not really. So are vernaculars a huge problem. And then there have been some cultural things that have happened, there are sort of written recordings of when Columbus came to Americas. And him kind of using indigenous peoples diet as a tool to kind of make them other different, less than, and one of the things he said was just look at them, they eat bugs, you know. And so that's kind of something that that kind of behavior, it still exists today. Sometimes you talk to people, and it's like, how dare you suggest that I eat a bug? How about all these other options, it's threatening to people that sort of vibe, but it remains the truth that, you know, whatever, over 7 billion people now, and 2.5 billion people then didn't get separated from that foods story. And in those communities, you're starting to see this movement where it has moved to urban centers. So in Thailand, it used to be kind of more for rural thing. And now in the cities markets, it's a very normal thing to see people eating insects in the food markets. So that's an interesting thing. I will add that I feel like there's kind of this pivotal moment where if people don't want to talk about birth control, and they're, you know, triggered by that, they're gonna have to start talking about how we're going to feed all of the people. And that's kind of the angle that I wanted to move into, you know, it's like, alright, well, obviously, I'm a woman, and I believe in my own rights, and all these kinds of things. But how do we kind of circumnavigate that hot topic and actually make these impacts of like, okay, well, if we don't want to do this, we're gonna have to do this. It's either kind of random for me to add that right now. But I think it's important.
Cory Ames 23:54
It's certainly a consideration. I mean, it's interesting, the things that that were apparently triggered on and not, you know, so, like, that's, that's worth paying attention to. And it sounds like you have a lot of conversations, I'm imagining attempting to, perhaps bring people along to this, this worldview, that insects should be included in, in all food systems, no matter, the country or the place on the globe. What are some of the things that you've found over these few years, Kate that kind of smooth some of the conversations out or open people up a bit to say like, oh, okay, I and in fact, perhaps being people who might give them a try at a minimum?
Kate Stoddard 24:32
Yeah, this is kind of where the business stands right now. It's a huge marketing puzzle, again, a problem almost, is that everybody has their own motivations for what's important to them, right? I think most everybody has it in them to get to that place but it is always kind of like reading the room to see. Okay, what is most important to this person the common thread across politics and sociology economic status is that everybody's connected to the earth in some way, right? You've got people hunting out there, you have people recreating out there, we're all eating the food. So that that tends to be kind of an easy go to is talking about the environment. But I have noticed that first and foremost, people love to think that they're going to save the environment. But when it comes down to daily habits and rituals, they want to know how it's gonna affect them personally, right now, today. So it's also a health proposition, right? So when I start talking about kind of comparisons of nutrient profiles, people are like, Oh, wow, that's incredible. I still don't want to eat it. But then I start talking about, okay, but check this popcorn with curry out. Like, it's really tasty. And someone else walks by, and they eat it. And they like, oh, wow, that's amazing. So definitely sampling is very important as well, or kind of group mentality, right? Word of mouth, people talking and normalizing it on their own time. In addition to what I've said, I think that there's also a general way of thinking some people are more closed minded, some people are more open minded, and there's probably a survival mechanism to that. I don't want to change people's minds that are completely adverse, I don't want to upset people, I don't want to spend my time and energy and my Stoke, most honestly, on people that just don't want to change their mind. That's not what I'm interested in doing. But when people are excited, and inquisitive and curious, and maybe they're not sold, some people are instantly sold. I can't convert those people very easily. And so taking that open minded spirit and running with that, and perpetuating that energy is where I really try and focus my time and efforts and education, right, because I'm talking about this all day, every day, when people are excited, getting them more excited, they spread the word, and it kind of generates this movement and energy that converts people all on its own. It's kind of got a life of its own. So I think that's kind of an important way of going about it, because the work of changing somebody's mind that is closed is futile. And it's just a waste of your time.
Cory Ames 27:10
And who are your early adopters? Who have they've been?
Kate Stoddard 27:14
Yeah, I mean, there are a lot of them and kind of a diverse crew, right, I could say the Pacific coast, generally speaking, Will 70 buddy from California, Portland, Oregon, outdoor enthusiasts, people who are connected to nature and want to conserve it, and they see what's happening. They want to like conserve that for future generations have that as a legacy. But also, it matters to them, they realize how connected we are. So a lot of kind of outdoor athletes are important, I think, because they also are normally pretty in touch with the fuel that they consume for their body, you know, getting up into the mountains that requires good nutrition a lot of the time. So they're conscious about the health proposition in the environmental proposition, health and wellness folks, vegetarians and vegans, interestingly, not all of them. But a lot of this plant based movement is fueled by environment is fueled by inflammation. So there's demographic of those people who are motivated by those impacts. They love the cricket protein, because it has all the things that are missing from not eating that animal protein. And then moms moms are a huge one, right? Like, traditionally we have been in the kitchen, maybe not as much nowadays. But we are traditionally the ones preparing the meal, feeding the family going to the market, we have this way of having so much hope for the future, and wanting to impart that help with our children. And also we care about what we feed our children and how they're growing. So moms definitely continue to be a strong user base for us.
Cory Ames 28:53
I think it overall is a really strong point that you make that might be most worth your energy to focus on the people who are already converted. I think there is definitely some sort of mental paradigm where we, you know, we feel like we're fighting this uphill battle of just trying to convince people who see the world a completely different way than us. And there's a place for that. And that, you know, that is a conversation that needs to be had. But as far as the work that we're doing, can get so much benefit just because all of us who might be converted aren't necessarily organized as efficiently as effectively as we otherwise could be. Right. So starting there, it seems like you can move through a widespread amount of the population before trying to go to folks who may never see the point of view that that you're searching for.
Kate Stoddard 29:39
Yeah, and that's another kind of sparks another interesting topic, which is, you know, all my marketing and design and efforts right now are targeting kind of a more affluent, educated crowd, right. And part of what I want to do is feed the world will a very relatively small percentage of folks right And then comes the story where I'm trying to convert them. So money more money gets infused to the agricultural side, my business, etc, etc, which is kind of an interesting philosophical quandary. But when I think about feeding the world, you know, I think about how perfectly this food staple, as a dried powder could be normalized and institutionalized in hospitals, and disaster relief and school lunch, I'm thinking really big supplement industry to confront nutrient deficiencies. And if I can get the people with the money on board, to help scale this industry at large, all of a sudden, it becomes a really viable storyline to be feeding people that need food of don't have food access, it's hard sometimes to, to stay the course and remember that one foot in front of the other day by day, I think that I am having an impact and have the potential to make a much larger impact. It's easy to have a hard day where somebody is like crickets, I mean, there could be people saying really hurtful things, or, you know, your mind just kind of goes dark one day, and you have this kind of like, what am I doing? Like, what am I doing, trying to get funds, and then you know, that day passes, and you realize, like, this is not all for naught, like you are on this amazing, beautiful, unique path. And the see the more often than not inspiring words, or people contacting me from all parts of the world that are just inspired by the story. And that network is getting bigger and bigger. And people really do want to base their businesses and also their purchasing dollars towards something that means something that's bigger than themselves, and that will be a lasting legacy. Hmm,
Cory Ames 31:50
I'm wondering in some of those, those lower points along the journey, I mean, we're stacking one, you know, entrepreneurship isn't isn't altogether too easy. And then we stack on the social environmental component, which falls into the definition of being a social entrepreneur, we're adding this additional level of difficulty for us, and maybe even a step higher for UK is that you're trying to convince people to eat insects, where do you go, it sounds like there are some very recurring messages and communication that you get from folks, like you mentioned, but what other practices or habits or routines maybe, do you lean on to get yourself feeling a bit more, I guess, just balanced, re inspired, and energized.
Kate Stoddard 32:31
So in those hard days and hard spaces, sometimes I try and take a little bit of distance, you know, have some deep breathing, get reconnected with nature go out for ski go out for a run. I also am just like this incredible optimist where I know that even though I'm having these feelings right now, it's gonna pass and that like the negativity that can sometimes be targeted at what I'm doing, or the skepticism, it's inciting this reaction in me that that will pass just remembering all of the positive things when you know, and how many more of those it's, it's like we all hear right? A frown is like more muscles than a smile. And one negative thing can really take over your mind space, even if there are like 1000 different positive things. And how do I get reinspired? I mean, you can do a quick Google search. And just for me, I'm like total science nerd. I read some research and I'm like, Oh, my God, like a whole new marketing angle. And so excited. Look at just all this, all of the people that are following me, you know, and encouraged or inspired by me, that inspires me listening to podcasts that get my brain going just on business. You know, we mentioned how crickets are yet another layer that are, are kind of hard to sell, right? Well, I've realized that in my own mind, I've made that out to be something way bigger than it is. Every business has a problem that they're trying to address. Right? Why are crickets different than any other problem that they are not? Like we know now, right? 2.5 billion people part of their food story. So it's not a unique problem. It's just another problem. And yeah, it has a few different aspects and challenges that I get to assess that are sort of unique, but it's just treating it like any other business, I think, hmm.
Cory Ames 34:23
I love that. And you mentioned at the beginning of our conversation, that you've come to this business, not being a business person, but you are more so a scientist, how have you continued to, I guess, build up your business knowledge and acumen over time? Like, what have you done and thought about that strategically, to make sure that that you're operating orchestra the way that it should be operated?
Kate Stoddard 34:50
Yeah, I surround myself with people that know more than I do. And I make lots of meetings and time in my day to network and pick brains when people People are willing to share and impart that, that information. I listened to how I built this all the time. i This isn't gonna sound cliche, but I do believe I am getting a Harvard Business School degree through that podcast. It's like, even the ones that don't really excite me when I listened to them, I'm like, Oh, that's a problem I have right now. You know, like, oh, wow, all these great ideas on how to overcome. And just experience, I am realizing that I am the professional in my department, right? I am the expert. There are many business people that give me information that I just have to kind of let it shut off my shoulder because it doesn't apply in my certain situation, or it's coming on. Man, that's kind of being a little condescending, or whatever. So I'm also learning now at this point to take a lot of advice, and then also take some of it with a grain of salt. Because that's kind of one of my things is I'm a sponge and everything everyone says I'm like, okay, cool. And I'm going to follow up on that. And I'm going to do this. And you can't really do that either. And so not all advice is good advice. Right. So, so yeah, that's kind of how it's compensated. And I do feel like I have so much to learn. Still, I think having that attitude is very important. But I do feel like right now, in the last three years, what I've learned is incredible. I feel like oh, my gosh, I can't believe that I was running a business three years ago with the knowledge that I had then. So yeah, it's been an interesting path.
Cory Ames 36:32
There's something about that, that slight feeling of embarrassment to reflect back on just a few years ago, you're like, I knew nothing. Well. Relatively to now. I've come so come so far. But one very interesting thing you mentioned to me, Kate, before we hit record, is that while you've been working on orchestra for a few years now, it almost feels once again, like you've hit day one. Part of that sounds a little bit like, like, exhausting to me in one way, but maybe also exhilarating and exciting. Can you explain what you meant by that for folks listening it?
Kate Stoddard 37:11
Yeah, well, so I made the conscious decision to include a partner in orchestra. And that person, actually somebody I know, through river guiding. So we're kind of this like Patagonia, dirtbags stories really living our values, or storyline, right? He's amazing. And he truly has reinvigorated orchestra, and revived it in a way, because it has been hard couple of years with all of the variables. So we had to, you know, restructure the company as a corporation, and partnership. And that was a lot of work. Actually, way more work than we thought it was going to be. And but now we're kind of ready to hit the ground running, we also talk about being naive, you know, when I started the business, on the spice line, I had a really important mentor, tell me, this is never gonna work off the spices because your profit margin is so tiny, you're gonna have to be McCormick's and scale and be in every grocery store. And I remember pulling my car over and just crying and be quick, it worked so hard. And I didn't even think about that, like that is so so stupid, right? Obviously, not coming at it from the business perspective, I'm coming at it from the, okay, I'm going to save the world who's with me, I don't even care if I get paid. So now, I'm kind of like, No, I definitely get paid. And I'm going to save the world with the money that I make. So we've launched this new protein line protein powders, which has a profit margin and business model. So we are kind of refocusing and have spent this last year in more or less a bit of an incubation phase where we weren't really focused on driving sales, we were just getting all of our ducks in a row. It's exhausting and a little bit and I don't want to say discouraging. It's just it's been more hard days this last year. But now we have this amazing platform that we've never had before. Right. We have like three product lines. We have the marketing plan and a mentorship program in place. And just the ability, we have a fulfillment center and a co packer, like everything is optimized and ready to go. So in that way, I mean, we've done so much work to where it's not like starting over. It's just a new beginning. Huh?
Cory Ames 39:25
Yeah, that's a great phrase there it it can feel in the moment, probably like it's two steps back and one way one step forward, you know, but the whole way through it, it was progress, in the sense to get you where you needed to be. Can you say more about the decision to take on a partner? Like where did that information come to you was that advice that you received? And like why did that just feel so paramount for the time that you were in with orchestra?
Kate Stoddard 39:53
I have never been adverse to a partnership and I've always been advised to be very careful and to just do it myself, right? I think on a really deep personal and spiritual level, I've always been a do it myself or and I'm to this point in my life where I'm about to break from doing it myself and I ever everything like, and I've never been good at asking for help. And I'm just to a point where I got so beaten down energetically by everything and really myself taking it all on where I'm like, Okay, I want help. Like we all know humans thriving community, what am I doing? Like it's just stupid Western idea of independence and self sufficiency, right? Like, it's cool that I can do that if I need to. But why would you do that if you didn't need to? And if we can grow and thrive and accomplish more together, why wouldn't we and so I think all of the drawbacks of having a partnership, which is like, like, supposedly sharing and talking through problems, which are both things I'm really motivated to do seem very small in comparison to how much more we're capable of together. And so my idea is kind of to attract people to orchestra that are growth centric, that want to talk through problems that don't just shy away and shut down at conflict. And don't care, you know, I don't want to say like, aren't motivated by money, because that's really hurt me in the past. But that it's like, I want to do something that means something to me. And yes, I need to provide for myself, but I'm not greedy. And so definitely my business partner that they Omma do, he is like that I deal person, and we work really well together. And then the core of really why I kind of went that direction. When I started it out by myself. I had tried on a few other partnerships that I didn't feel like we're growth centric, or in it for the right reasons that we're going to maybe drive the company in a direction that wasn't really true to the intention, because that's really the most important thing to me is that wherever we get infused with money down the line, or whoever joins our story, that the intention and the impact are a part of it, I would rather dissolve or, or tomorrow, if it was going to be some sort of a self serving mission that causes more waste and doesn't have the impact, then survive it with a bunch of money that drives it into, you know, kind of a monster, I guess. So choosing that they was very conscious. And I know that our values are very aligned, and that our goals are very similar, and that we're willing to work really hard for those. And like I kind of mentioned before, I'm a single mom, and I am working another job full time. And I have a lot going on. And I realized that are completely neglected. And it wasn't realizing its full potential. And not only that, but it couldn't, it just couldn't, because my son is my number one priority, right, I brought him here, I have like this incredible duty to like, give him my all. And a part of that is showing him that I can be a successful businesswoman and that I am, you know, able to provide for us and make a safe place for him and make a place where we can both be healthy and happy and have our basic needs covered. But in doing that, like I just couldn't make orchestra fly. So it was a non negotiable proposition. Like I needed that bass help. And it was pretty cool how organic it was because he was already in red path. And he had been super interested in orchestra and he kind of just been like donating time to the cause. That's a cool thing about impact businesses. People are like, no, no, seriously, don't pay me I want to see you succeed. And you're like, hi, I want to pay you so bad. But kind of working with us like that, where we're just like, oh my gosh, when we get to the point where we can just have all these amazing people surviving the business, there'll be a huge, huge day, so that they came into the path organically. And I think everything is just the way that it's supposed to be with the partnership. So make decided to move forward with eBay. E.
Cory Ames 44:00
That's wonderful. And I really appreciate you sharing, I think that's an important experience for others to get a look into just because I don't imagine that that's an uncommon feeling of feeling quite overwhelmed with the proposition of building an impact driven enterprise doing it yourself. And there is I know a lot of people especially who might be inclined to go down this route of creating something out of nothing their own. They might be some of those di wires as you are I know I share some of that sentiment myself. So very important that you share that with us. So thank you for that. Kate. I'm curious to ask a bit about the product line with orchestra. You started with the spices as you mentioned, you have what you call therapeutics as well and then now there's the the protein powder. What stood out to me one was how this differed a little bit than what I can see as eating insects of like, replacing the ribeye grass fed ribeye steak on my plate with just kind of like a handful of roasted crickets or something? Instead, your product line is much different than I would imagine how that would fit into your diet. So I'm curious, what was the strategy? Maybe profit margins aside as to approach orchestra with these particular products starting out?
Kate Stoddard 45:16
Yeah. And I would like to say that, you know, I have a friend at gym and eat crickets. And she said, we don't give people enough credit, like I get people to eat whole crickets all the time. And I think it's important to have all out there because those of you who are really willing to have the drivers to crickets, like yes, yes, yes, and the protein bars and all of those things, I think it's great to have it all out there in the market. My strategy was to really get the people who are on the fence like they want to, they want to be there, they're a little ambivalent, they're kind of like, Oh, I just can't, like I'm with you, Kate, you the environmental piece, the health piece, like all of it, it makes so much sense. I just, I just don't know. So the idea was just kind of like to tip those folks over into the market space. And so this is the protein powder bag here. It just looks like any protein powder. And I've had a lot of people tell me, this is the best tasting protein powder I've ever had protein powder by nature's like kind of grainy and a little bit bitter. And oftentimes people add stevia to it. So then it's got this kind of like sweet but not natural, even though stevia has natural taste to it. So the whole philosophy is whole food nutrition with us and like minimal ingredients. So the protein powders have four whole food ingredients, cricket powder, you know, milled cricket powder, organic yellow pea protein, tiny bit of date, sugar, which is of course just the whole fruit, right dried, and then made into sugar. So it also has a lot of nutritional add in some more iron. It's not super processed, and then flavor, whatever that is. And that's all from the natural whole food source. So, so the chai spice that I just showed you, that is all from spices, ginger, cardamom and cinnamon, the vanilla is from vanilla powder, vanilla bean, and the chocolate is from Dutch cocoa. And so we're really using quality ingredients, and very few of them, mixing it with the organic yellow pea is very key. Because not only is it more cost efficient, because cricket, right, like we need to be able to scale it more to make it more cost efficient. It isn't super cheap. And it also makes it very familiar to people because people are really well versed with pea protein. So it's it's familiar. The vanilla, the SIR most popular, and you'll notice our packaging, so conscious like I could not in good heart, put another half empty plastic tub that's never gonna biodegrade on the shelf, right. Like, I feel like this, for me has been a entry prohibited piece of the market. I'm like, I'm not gonna buy that container, especially if I'm rolling through it every month. Like I'm just not going to but this paper based packaging, I'm like, okay, and it looks super sexy on the shelf. Like, it looks like nothing else on the shelf people are like, wait a second, I don't have to do the plastic. And so yeah, our packaging has been a huge thing it is not, they do not make it easy to make it cost efficient and sustainable at the same time. We're really proud of that, as well. And then just show you a kind of, we use these metal tins which may or may not stick around for the spices, but you can reuse them or refill them. This is a curry and togarashi we have nine different flavors of seasonings, they're all for the most part, they are all blends. So they're ready to go. I make a curry all the time where I just dumped, you know, three tablespoons are two tablespoons of the curry powder, you don't have to have multiple spices, so they're easier to use the togarashi is really good to put in ramen. And then yeah, we have all the other flavors you guys can check out but the therapeutics we're kind of targeting yet another market which is like kind of health and wellness or people who are really into medicine kind of natural medicine. So we've got a Mayan cocoa, a golden milk green vitality, which is kind of like your superfood greens. And then a crimson root, which is kind of beat orange peel cardan in ginger ashwagandha. And they all kind of have a system that they target in being nutritive or nurturing to, you can add them into baking projects or smoothies or just warm milk kinda like a latte. Hmm,
Cory Ames 49:25
the packaging is really well designed. I mean, I'm just looking to the photography on the site. There's really no reason why you wouldn't try your products to kind of get someone in the door on eating insects. Really beautiful and super compelling and attractive. So surely well done there. Are there their future other products that we're considering at the moment? Or might it just be continued variation on these existing lines?
Kate Stoddard 49:50
Okay, this is kind of my classic like cake thing where I'm like, oh, and then we'll do through fruit leathers because mom's gonna love that protein and kids need protein and we're gonna Gonna do supplements and we're gonna do all these things. So, I have so many ideas, even just like backpacker food, adding the spices to that kind of thing, I think I've just had to kind of be like, okay, you know what you need to like, find out the efficiencies in the business and focus on what you have. Because what I accomplished in the first few years with three product lines and over, I don't even know, we have like 20 skews now is that's actually a lot. And I should focus on growing that and making it a successful business before I just go crazy and start getting into, you know, right now we are consciously in the dry next sector of how they regulate things, which is different than if you add water. So the second that you add fruit or, you know, get into protein marks or Yeah, fruit leathers, or any of that kind of thing, it becomes more expensive. And all of that is, you know, time Time is money. So right now we're gonna stick with what we have, and kind of get that out there. Because right now we find that when we reach people they buy and we have subscribers, but we're not reaching that many people, right, the last year of kind of incubation. So the next kind of years is going to be all about increasing our reach targeted marketing efforts. In the future. Like I said, hospital nutrition, you know, the fruit leathers for the kids, and the opportunities are infinite. So I just encourage people to get into the space and help help it grow. At this point, the more the merrier.
Cory Ames 51:26
Hmm, excellent. Well, I'm along for the ride here. I'm excited to see where it goes. Before we wrap up, Kate, might if I ask you a few rapid fire questions. Yeah. All right. So first one for someone who might be interested in diving deep into the world of edible insects, what might be any sort of supplemental additional resources that you might recommend even other organizations to check out documentaries, books or anything if someone's looking for a deep dive?
Kate Stoddard 51:54
Yeah, there's a lot out there, of course, orchestra provisions.com. And we also have a YouTube with some recipes on it. That's currently, there is a national organization that looks after the whole industry and advocates for it. Gemini crickets I mentioned before, she has an amazing podcast that's all about teaching people how to farm and how she goes through the farming process. And then I would definitely look into check cool, they're doing some really interesting stuff with kind of an experiential Research Center that they just read, I think they raised like Gordon $45 million, or something to do that, and also getting into kind of the animal feed sector. And then yeah, if you do a quick Google search, you're gonna find all sorts of stuff, you're gonna find that Nestle and PepsiCo are researching this and behavioral adoption, and when people are gonna, kind of tipped over into making this totally mainstream,
Cory Ames 52:46
excellent. And then maybe non insect related, what's a book that you might recommend to our listeners, something that's either impacted you recently or that you always come back to?
Kate Stoddard 52:55
Okay, and I just finished this one has coffee stains all over it? Oh, Let my people go surfing, huge fan of you, Barnes Janardan his business structure. And that was amazing. I feel like I would be a really good employee at Patagonia. I also just James nest or breed that one, I feel like he's impacted my life daily, I can remember to breathe, I actually feel like my experiences much better every single day. And I just picked up where the crawdads sing for fun, kind of a natural world connection for me.
Cory Ames 53:29
Excellent. And next one for you. Maybe Speaking of things you do daily, what's a morning routine, daily habit, something that you feel like you absolutely have to stick to, if anything?
Kate Stoddard 53:39
absolutely have to stick to nothing. I'm very flexible human being. I'm not kind of regimented like that. But my favorite days are when I'm able to wake up early, go to bed a little earlier. And in those dark moments before my kid wakes up, enjoy the experience of my coffee and starting to kind of get an early jump on the day, instead of a late end. I really enjoy waking up in the dark when I'm able to do it. Sometimes I have to honor that I need more sleep than any parent will know that. But yeah, something about the quiet dark part of the morning where my mind is so sharp and focused. And I really love being able to capitalize on that.
Cory Ames 54:18
Love it in the last one for UK what's maybe one piece of advice that you leave our listeners with these folks are social entrepreneurs like you changemakers trying to leave the world a better place than they found it.
Kate Stoddard 54:28
Yeah, don't give up. If you really believe in what you're doing and you're passionate about it, you won't fail. You'll just pivot and make it what it needs to be and think that many people give up and that's why businesses fail. And like we're talking about those hard days earlier. Just don't give up you're not gonna have a successful business if you do.
Cory Ames 54:49
Excellent. All right, Kate. And finally, finally, where should folks keep up with you? You mentioned the website is there anywhere else that they should keep up with you in orchestra?
Kate Stoddard 54:58
Yeah, orchestra provisions dot com is a website. I'm on LinkedIn both personally and with orchestra. I am on Instagram orchestra provisions, Facebook orchestra provisions, and hopefully we will be creating a tick we have a tik tok. Hopefully we'll be utilizing that soon. And I mentioned the YouTube channel as well.
Cory Ames 55:18
Great. We'll have all things orchestra and Kate started linked up at the show post at social entrepreneurship.fm. Thank you, Kate,
Kate Stoddard 55:26
well, thank you so much.
Cory Ames 55:29
Okay, that is a wrap another episode of the social entrepreneurship and innovation podcast in the books. I hope you enjoyed it. As always your host your Cory Ames. I always really enjoy knowing that you're you're out there listen to this episode, engaging with the content, perhaps the folks that we featured doing this exceptional work in the world. If you enjoyed the show, and you haven't already, please leave us a review wherever it is that you get your podcasts. And hit the subscribe button if you haven't already that really helps other folks like yourself, discover the show. And lastly, if you have not yet, sign up for the better world weekly newsletter this is our weekly discussion of building a better world with our global community of changemakers and innovators from all sectors and all walks of life. So go to grow ensembl.com backslash newsletter to get the next Better World weekly hitting your inbox. Alright y'all, we'll talk next step.
Kate is a mother, social entrepreneur and environmentalist. She has a masters in the science of nutrition and is interested in finding regenerative solutions to mend a broken food systems.
She's also the founder of Orchestra Provisions which is normalizing the practice of entomophagy (eating insects) with an insects as ingredients approach to product development. This solution is multifaceted and addresses global food security and an earth friendly solution to our protein problem.
You can read more about Kate's story here: https://orchestraprovisions.com/pages/kates-story