A lot has changed since Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer started Union Square Cafe thirty years ago.
While the restauranteur recently added managing a public company to his resume--as Shake Shack completed its IPO in January--he has also been part of a food revolution that has changed the way both consumers and entrepreneurs look how and what we eat.
During a conversation with Inc. editor at large Bo Burlingham and other food entrepreneurs, including Blue Apron's Matt Salzberg and Stonyfield Farms's Gary Hirshberg, Meyer discussed how food businesses have gone from being thought of as ugly ducklings to become darlings of the startup world.
"The first thing that happened was that food became a viable and validated entrepreneurial pursuit in a way that people before were almost embarrassed to even consider," Meyer said.
Part of the reason for this is that food businesses that source ingredients from organic or local providers are often associated with promoting sustainable and environmentally friendly practices.
"Food became another avenue to expressing that you cared about making the world a better place," Meyer said. "The choice of food was a political choice."
At the same time that interest in sustainable food has grown--leading to more food startups--social media has helped accelerate foodie culture, where consumers become almost obsessed with their food choices.
"Today, it's almost the outlier if people are not photographing what they ate and then sharing that in real time," Meyer said. "A table for four is really a table for eight: it's four people plus their cell phones."
To hear more from the conversation, watch the video below.