Interview with Taryn Fixel of Ingredient1: Overcoming Food Challenges With Tech

By Lauren Keyson and Sarah Griecotaryn fixel

Ingredient1 is a personal food shopper that empowers foodies to discover, locate and share food tailored to their specific needs. It disrupts the way people feel about food because it gives them assurance that it will taste great even before they purchase it. In addition, it provides daily curated recommendations from nutritionists and tastemakers that allows eaters to escape their boring food routines.

Founder Taryn Fixel came up with the idea of Ingredient1 because she has gastrointestinal issues and was having a hard time knowing what she could eat safely. She thought it would be amazing if she could figure out what the best foods were for her diet philosophy and taste preferences. She knew this would give her confidence to try something new.

Did you know that that there are over 1,300 names for sugar in your foods and that sugar is the most common ingredient?  We caught up with Fixel at a recent NYTM event at NYU.

Taryn Fixel:  To create it was a process. I basically went to a large food expo and started asking if something like this existed. Was there any way to personalize the grocery store? Nobody was working on the problem so I started asking vendors, their food brands, manufacturers and dieticians about what sorts of difficulties they were facing.  Then I basically figured out that all of them were facing the same challenges. By understanding all of those challenges, I found my sort of Venn diagram spot where we could make a huge impact for everybody.

Lauren Keyson:  What are some of the foods that are delectable but okay to eat?

TF: Well, it depends on how you define ‘Okay to eat’.  Part of what we’re doing is creating a bio food identity of what is ‘good’ for you to eat. If you have a peanut allergy, then ice cream with peanuts in it is bad for you. That doesn’t mean that ice cream is inherently bad, it’s just bad for you. Understand that there is a place for decadence in every diet, but it doesn’t have to be laden with ingredients that aren’t good for your health.

I’m gluten-free and dairy-free. I try to avoid artificial and refined sugars. I eat a lot of plant-based foods. I try to keep healthy. I still eat ice cream – I love it but it’s dairy-free ice cream made with a minimal amount of processing.

LK: How did you pick your team? Did they have to be interested in your food challenge?

TF: Everybody who works here is someone who understands and feels some personal mission around solving it. I really found my team by speaking to people about the problem we’re trying to solve. If they were interested in joining that mission, they started off doing small projects and eventually joined the team if it worked out.

LK: What is your hope going forward?

TF: We want to be the lens for the person who makes any food purchasing decision. So it’s a food identity that you carry with you wherever you are; at a  grocery store or even eventually at restaurants looking at recipes.

LK: Do you identify brands or just foods?

TF: We identify specific products that are associated with brands. We make it free for the brands to participate and for people to download. A big part of our movement is around freedom for information. Brands are paying for shelf space at the grocery store, which puts a lot of natural and organic brands that people want to discover at a disadvantage. We’re creating a more efficient ecosystem.

LK: How do you make money?

TF: Through analytics. We provide real-time diet flavor and ingredient trends as well as an understanding of whose looking for what and where they’re looking for them.

LK: Who would buy that?

TF: Brands, retailers, restaurants, third-party vendors and researchers.

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