Natalie Portman, Other Celebs, Invest in Vertical Farming Startup Bowery

Good News Notes:

“Natalie Portman, an actor as well-known for her film roles as her dedication to causes ranging from the environment to animal welfare, has thrown her financial support behind a new investment round for Bowery Farming. The sustainable agriculture startup, the largest vertical farming firm in the U.S., secured over $300 million from both individuals and investment groups to help expand its operations across the U.S. 

“At Bowery, we’re reinventing a new supply chain that’s simpler, safer, more sustainable and ultimately provides vibrantly flavorful produce unlike what’s available today,” Irving Fain, CEO and Founder of Bowery Farming, said in a press release. “This infusion of new capital from Fidelity, other new investors, and the additional support of our long-term investor partners is acknowledgement of the critical need for new solutions to our current agricultural system, and the enormous economic opportunity that comes with supporting our mission. 

Portman’s investment is the latest in a series of big moves by the vegan activist to help grow companies that provide healthy, sustainable, and animal-friendly products to millions around the globe. In July of 2020, she joined others such as Oprah Winfrey and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz in investing in milk-alternative startup Oatly. In November, she teamed with music artist John Legend in backing MycoWorks, a company creating vegan leather from fungus, to help raise more than $45 million. 

“So now lots of people make fun of vegans, right? Lots of people make fun of anybody who cares about anything deeply, right?,” Portman said during a youth activism speech in 2019. “But I’m here to say, it is always a great thing to care…whether it’s environmental issues, animal rights, women’s rights, equality, never be afraid to show how much you care.”

Joining Portman in the latest investment round for Bowery, which has raised more than $465 million since its founding in 2014, were well-known plant-based eating advocates Lewis Hamilton and Chris Paul, as well as world-renowned chef and hunger advocate José Andrés and singer-songwriter Justin Timberlake. 

So why is everyone from celebrities to investment groups throwing money at Bowery? Simply put, the skepticism around vertical farming that stunted early growth has been replaced with blooming enthusiasm in the wake of its success.

In the last year, Bowery has gone from selling produce in under 100 retail locations across the U.S. to nearly 800. According to Fain, these include such giants as Whole Foods Market, Giant Food, Stop & Shop, Walmart, and Weis Markets.

“It’s definitely bigger than the pandemic,” Fain told The Spoon. “What you’re seeing is a food system that’s evolving and [people have a desire] to see transparency and traceability in the food system.”…..

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