Ryan Rosenthal is the co-founder and CEO of Simpls. Based in the Twin Cities, Simpls is a home delivery meal service that prides itself on its deliciously easy, beyond organic frozen foods.Ryan is a leader, food lover, and nature enthusiast obsessed with the intersection of people, wildlife, climate, and how we grow food. He co-founded Simpls in 2014 with the idea that eating delicious, wholesome, and sustainable foods should be easy. Ryan hopes to help transform our food system into one that is healthy, regenerative, and equitable. We caught up with Ryan to chat about Simpls, working with Merge Impact, the farmer relationships he’s formed through his work with Merge Impact, and the future of regenerative and convenient foods.
When you founded Simpls, what did you see as something lacking in the meal delivery space? How does Simpls seek to correct that?
Our motto at Simpls is “convenience without compromise.” It’s our core value and why we started the company. When you’re short on time you shouldn’t have to throw away your values. For us that means sourcing organic foods as a baseline and then building on that through regenerative agriculture practices, primarily for your own health as a human, but you’re supporting all of these positive planet outcomes as a result.
How did you first hear about Merge Impact?
I found out about Merge through Beth (Beth Robertson-Martin, Vice President of Partnership Development). Beth has become a close mentor and friend. We look to her for expertise on our business in general and specifically on sourcing and how to think about where we’re buying food. The conversation has evolved into data and transparency, and providing our customers with specific information on where we source ingredients and the benefits of those ingredients.
Why did you decide to work with Merge Impact?
At Simpls, we’re very interested in micronutrient values and how they will affect both agriculture and consumers now and in the near future. We also want to get as specific as possible about any type of food we’re buying, and why that type of food is better. We’re trying to show customers how these better practices translate into value for them. This is an added benefit for people to support sustainable agriculture, to know that not only the food is better for them, but that their choices are directly related to supporting healthy ecosystems.
When you started Simpls was supporting regenerative agriculture a goal of yours? If not, how did it develop?
Simpls was originally centered on the idea of convenience without compromise. At the time, my co-founder and I were much more focused on the idea of organic and sustainable — essentially, how can we do less harm. Then at the beginning of 2020 I read Gabe Brown’s book Dirt to Soil: One Family’s Journey into Regenerative Agriculture. That was a transformational book for me. It changed my perspective on what was possible in the food system, and I did deep dive into the wold of regenerative agriculture because of the book.
I realized that the idea of doing less harm or being sustainable was a status quo-type statement, and it didn’t feel like we were thinking big enough Dirt to Soil was full of hope–this concept that there’s a way to make things better, and there can be abundance. We can do things that provide so much benefit throughout the food supply chain. Dirt to Soil was one of the first things I’d read in a long while where I felt inspired instead of depressed, feeling like there was a solution, and that solution was regenerative agriculture.
What are a few things that have stood out to you regarding working with Merge Impact?
I really appreciate that Merge pushes for complete transparency. Their system allows us to provide really specific information on our differential ingredient sourcing. And they make it so easy to collaborate! I also love that they are focused on real data measurements because that gives us a sense of pride and accomplishment that we’re doing the right thing for our customers’ health and the planet. What truly sets Merge Impact apart is their comprehensive and holistic approach, making them the go-to choice for Simpls. Merge Impact is offering a set of tools not available through anyone else, including data infrastructure, network connections, measurable impact tracking, and consumer engagement tools. Their competitive advantage provides Simpls with a comprehensive solution to drive their regenerative and sustainable food mission forward.
How did the MINT platform make your job easier at Simpls?
With MINT, we have a trusted, verifiable, and fully transparent source of nutrient density data for ingredients sourced from regenerative and organic farmers. The MINT platform also provides our farmers an easy and efficient way to optimize their yield while minimizing environmental impact and advancing a healthier food supply chain for the planet and our communities.
What are you excited about when it comes to working with Merge Impact?
We love that Merge Impact is working on biodiversity as well: that is a dream state of ours and a value we share. I’m excited to continue onboarding more growers to continue this pursuit of nutrient value data. We’re excited for the human and ecosystem positives that are measurable–that’s the core.
What are some of the benefits you have experienced with working with Merge Impact?
Merge Impact enables us to bring maximum transparency to our customers about the health, climate and ecosystem impact they make with every bite of our food. Most importantly, we can quantify the incredible efforts of our innovative growers and give them the credit they deserve for their work. It’s a beautiful collaboration with our growers, customers, and Merge Impact to create a regenerative future.
How have your sustainability goals been impacted through your work with MI?
Merge Impact’s guidance in the regenerative field has impacted our goals and changed them to embrace regenerative goals fully. We believe that regenerative agriculture is essential to our company’s motto of “convenience without compromise”.
Has working with MI improved your farmer relationships at Simpls?
Yes–Beth has helped us to interact, nurture, and build relationships with growers such as Luke Peterson at A-Frame Farm in Minnesota. He’s just one example of a grower with whom we’ve become very close.We’re now working on the carbon story at A-Frame Farm and hoping to work on a nutrient density story as well.
Has the MINT platform helped Simpls to win over customers? Or do you foresee this happening with customers in the near future?
I definitely think it will in the future. Right now we’re in early stages. I have no doubt that the information about the value that customers are getting will drive sales and growth for us and the growers.