EDUCATION SERIES: The Biodiverse Shelf

Exploring Why Biodiversity is Essential to the Future of Food

Wednesday, Feb 26

MISTA, 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.




The Biodiverse Shelf

Exploring Why Biodiversity is Essential to the Future of Food

75% of the world’s food comes from just 12 plants and 5 animal species, according to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization.

This concentration around just a few foods ignores the deliciously diverse bounty of tens of thousands of underutilized foods across the globe, not to mention the communities that cultivate them. It also makes our food system less resilient to threats like disease, pests, and climate change.

A biodiverse food system sits at the intersection of taste and sustainability. Not only do eaters benefit from an entire world of variety, flavor, and nutrition, but our planet benefits from the increased resilience, productivity, and strength that a biodiverse system brings.


David Cooper, Partner at Montcalm Capital
Joshua Hughes, CEO & Founder of Blacksheep Regenerative Resource Management
Scott May, VP of Innovation, Head of MISTA
Stephen Goldmann, CoFounder of Five Sun Foods/Black Acorn Ventures
Danny Rubenstein, Leadership Team and Strategic Advisor at MISTA
Tucker Garrison, CEO & CoFounder of Imlak’esh Organics
Sudhir Rani, CFO of TerViva


Wed, February 26, 2020
5:30 PM – 7:30 PM PST
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438 Treat Ave
San Francisco, CA 94110
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Members: $25.00; Non-Members: $35.00



Presented in partnership with:

MISTA creates the future of food by bridging the gap that exists in the current food system structure. MISTA is an optimizer —more encompassing than an incubator or accelerator—enabling start-ups and established corporations to optimize ideas, products, people and investments.

MISTA does all of this through a unique member-based platform that focuses on a reciprocal ecosystem. Large companies helping start-ups. Start-ups helping large companies. All with a vision of creating the future of food.

The MISTA Optimization Center is the home base for MISTA operations, located in the Mission District of San Francisco, CA. More info at

About the panel

David Cooper, Partner at Montcalm Capital
David has 20 years of experience directing the acquisition, financing, ownership, and disposition of early-stage companies. David brings a deep knowledge of equity transactions including due diligence, structuring, closing, and operational management. He has a track record of profitable impact investing, strategic advising, and has long-standing relationships with key industry participants in multi-cycle finance, growth, and disposition. David leads business development, alternative asset finance, and impact due diligence. He and the Montcalm team create offerings that match risk with returns and reconnect investors with the performance of the companies they invest in. David selects companies in need of growth financing that make a positive impact in the world – without sacrificing returns.

Joshua Hughes, CEO & Founder of Blacksheep Regenerative Resource Management
Joshua grew up working in his family’s auto-salvage business in Medford, Oregon. Through working in the auto-salvage industry, he learned the real value of what many consider “waste.” In his early adulthood, he developed a secure recycling business in the Pacific Northwest. Joshua became politically activated after 9/11 and soon left his office job to work as an activist and helped found a biofuels cooperative. In 2006, he relocated to Costa Rica and founded VerdEnergia, where he has acted as general manager since. Joshua founded the Shangri-Lanas forestry project and Blacksheep soon after.

Blacksheep was formed in the spring of 2015 in the small village of Lanas de Puriscal, Costa Rica. Its founders are creating a formalized, replicable method of direct action against hyper-extractive industries in their local watershed and abroad.

Scott May, VP of Innovation, Head of MISTA
Founder of MISTA and VP Innovation for Givaudan. Scott leverages his passion to explore new opportunities, making innovation a way of life and corporate success. Being a consummate futurist, combined with the strong ability to execute, enables Scott to create new ways of thinking, doing and being…. from product creation, to strategic partnerships, to new business models, culminating in the delivery of breakthrough change and results.

Stephen Goldmann, CoFounder of Five Sun Foods/Black Acorn Ventures
Stephen is a business leader with deep industry experience in strategy, product development, brand creation and messaging. His current role is leading Five Suns Foods, a company he helped form in 2016 to bring a new superfood, a bean with the highest known protein content, to market in a regenerative and holistic way.

Stephen has spent his career in food, beginning as a fine dining chef with a global pedigree. Prior to his position here, Stephen, for 15 years, was a partner at The Culinary Edge, leading innovation and product strategy at global food companies such as Starbucks and McDonalds and developed CPG products including Sweet Kale Salad for Eat Smart. During this time, Stephen helped found numerous food and restaurant brands. These include Mindful Meats, the first certified non-GMO meat company, and Starbird, a quickly growing, better-for-you fast food chain. Stephen’s broad view of the restaurant and packaged food world results in delivering fast and actionable innovation.

Danny Rubenstein, Leadership Team and Strategic Advisor at MISTA
Danny brings a unique combination of skills, abilities, and relationships to MISTA and its members. He’s held every C-Suite role, and he has served as a board member, investor, and advisor for startups and early-stage companies multiple times over. Add in his big CPG company background and experience and you have a mind that’s able to switch gears easily between where you are and where you want to be, and can help develop a strategic path between them.

Tucker Garrison, CEO & CoFounder of Imlak’esh Organics
An avid permaculture practitioner, surfer, global traveler, and eco-social entrepreneur, Tucker co-founded Imlak’esh Organics in 2012. Imlak’esh Organics is a sustainable, intentional company that specializes in the import and distribution of superfoods ethically sourced from small-scale organic farmers around the world. In his previous roles, Tucker has run a small engine repair business, managed a 40 acre organic avocado, and was an elementary school teacher.

Tucker grew up amongst the wending intertidal waterways of Charleston, SC, but found his home amidst the sunshine and waves of the California coast. He graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a BA in Neotribal Studies; an interdisciplinary approach, asking and experiencing, What does it mean to be indigenous in the world today? He has lived amongst indigenous communities in Bali, New Zealand, Solomon Islands, amongst the Maya of Guatemala, and the Shipibo of the Peruvian Amazon. He’s driven by a passion to synergize the wisdom of ancient civilizations with modern humanity to foster a healthy, thriving Earth.

Sudhir Rani, CFO of TerViva, a series-D agriculture technology company that is pioneering the world’s most sustainable source of plant protein and vegetable oil. Sudhir, who also sits on TerViva’s board of directors, has extensive finance and structuring experience. Before joining TerViva, he was a director in the private equity group at D.E. Shaw & Company in India, where he structured, negotiated and led due diligence on growth capital investments in cleantech, media, and healthcare. Prior to that, he spent eight years in asset management and investment banking at UBS AG. Sudhir holds an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a BS in industrial engineering and operations research from Columbia University.

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