It all began because of a movie.
“When I was 12 [years old] I gave up red meat,” said Sarah Cabell (C14). “I watched a film about how destructive the cow/beef industry is on the planet and the resources it takes to grow cattle; you can feed 100 families with the resources it takes to feed one cow.”
Many people have had this same experience (remember being assigned Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” in High School English?), but for most the foray into vegetarianism and the American food system is brief. Not for Sarah.
Over the next few years, Sarah’s interest in sustainable agriculture only deepened. From earning her Bachelors of Science degree in Human Development at Cornell University to her year abroad in Vienna, she says she kept seeing the connection between unhealthy people and where America was going with ingredients.
“Working at the [US Department of Agriculture] helped me further my understanding of nutrition as preventative medicine, but it was still part of this larger broken system,” said Sarah, who was a Senior Program Specialist for the Food and Nutrition Service Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) at the time. It was around that time that Sarah made the decision to apply to graduate school and earn her Masters of Business Administration.
“I wanted to make a greater impact than I felt I could do in my former job at the USDA,” said Sarah. “I came to Presidio to learn the tools that I thought would help me get there.”
Immediately, Sarah became a leader among her peers. In addition to serving for three semesters as Co-Chair of the Sustainable Food Club she was also the Student Member of the Board for the 2012-2013 academic year.
“As the student board member, Sarah brought a lot of great ideas for board consideration including crowdsourcing as an idea for development initiatives,” said Presidio Chief Operating Officer Jennifer Taylor. “She did a great job of bringing her expertise and what she was learning in the classroom to this role.”
Enter Slow Money
Amidst this flurry of extracurricular responsibilities, Sarah says she stumbled across Slow Money. She was immediately drawn to the movement and attended the 2011 National Gathering in San Francisco.
“Slow Money is really important to me because it’s taking a completely different approach,” said Sarah. “If we want healthy communities and healthy food we have to invest in it.”
Receiving her MBA in Sustainable Management just a few days ago, Sarah already has big plans to continue her work building healthy food systems post-Presidio.
“Sarah should be considered as a role model for other students in light of her overall process, persistence, and passion,” said former Associate Dean of Career Development and Student Affairs Mitchell Friedman. “Her prowess in marshaling her time and talent in support of professional goals while a student at Presidio Graduate School no doubt helped her to land a fantastic job at Credibles.”
Sarah was recently hired as the Director of Edible Perks for Credibles a new service offered by Slow Money and powered by Clearbon that uses crowd-funding to support small, sustainable food-related businesses.
“Small businesses have difficulty getting access to capital because they are just starting out and are considered high risk,” said Sarah. “Credibles allows for direct investment from the beneficiaries of that business themselves.”
According to Sarah, a customer can go to a Credibles business and invest a large lump sum; they then have credits they can use anytime they want to buy something at that business.
“The business has the money up front so they can buy new equipment and expand, and it’s cheaper to pay their investors back over time with product than to a bank with interest,” said Sarah.
Sarah will be creating and piloting a completely new program for the company spanning employee benefits.
“Theoretically, an employer could purchase Credibles credits at neighborhood eateries and give them to their employees as a perk,” said Sarah. “This would help strengthen relationships within the community while also supporting healthy eating among their employees.”
Sarah says Credibles is currently looking to pilot in neighborhoods where there is a mix of values-aligned employers and businesses. (She welcomes any suggestions!)
Even though she’s not formally a Slow Money investor yet (“hopefully, when I have paid off some of this student debt,” she says), Sarah is a model of healthy food system behavior: buying local sustainable foods and purchasing from Slow Money aligned businesses as often as she can.
“I am confident that the connection between health, eating real food, cultivating healthy soils, and using sustainable growing practices will become clearer and clearer,” said Sarah. “I hope that I can continue to make a positive difference in the sustainable food world in a leadership capacity.”
**This article was originally printed in the Spring/Summer 2013 edition of Presidian. Read more.