“Robyn O’Brien’s message describes the toxic tangle of American food, government, and culture. THE UNHEALTHY TRUTH is a healthy dose of medicine that we all need to swallow, and I say this as an advocate for the environment, but more importantly, as a father of five.” —Graydon Carter, former Editor-in-chief, Vanity Fair
A former financial and food industry analyst, Robyn O’Brien triggered an allergic reaction in the food industry when she asked: “Are we allergic to food or what’s been done to it?”
She has been called “food’s Erin Brockovich” by Bloomberg and the New York Times. Originally from a conservative Texas family, Robyn earned an MBA on a full scholarship from Rice University, graduating as the top woman in her class before going to work as a financial analyst that covered the food industry. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Washington and Lee, where she was also Phi Beta Kappa and is an adjunct professor at Rice University.
For over a decade, she has helped lead a food awakening among consumers, corporations and political leaders.
Armed with data and analytics, food companies and policy makers respond to Robyn’s work. Robyn highlights the actions needed at the local, national and global levels to secure a smarter food system.
She has presented to multinational corporations like Bloomberg, Compass Food Group, Chipotle, General Mills, Nestle, Target and others. Robyn has also worked with and advised grocery stores, farming associations and startups in the food industry. She sheds light on how the changing landscape of food and health are impacting the food industry and our economy.
While working as an equity analyst, she was specifically assigned to cover the food industry where she had the opportunity to meet with the management teams from Kroger, Costco, Whole Foods and other companies on a regular basis. She also met with Goldman Sachs’ Henry Paulson, Ebay’s Meg Whitman and Martha Stewart as they were taking their companies public.
Over the last two decades, she has worked on a team that managed $20 billion in assets, created a non profit to protect children, built a strategic advisory firm, a popular podcast called TakeOut with Ashley and Robyn and is a best-selling author, public speaker, strategist and mother of four.
Robyn brings insight and detailed analysis to her research on the health of the American food system as documented in her first book, The Unhealthy Truth.
Her work has appeared on the BBC, NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg, the Today Show, Good Morning America, FOX News, the New York Times, in the Washington Post and countless media outlets, and she wrote a very popular column for Prevention called Inspired Bites while serving as the Executive Director of the AllergyKids Foundation.
Robyn has been named by SHAPE Magazine as a “Women To Shape the World,” by Forbes Woman as one of “20 Inspiring Women to Follow on Twitter,”and by The Discovery Channel as one of its 15 Top Visionaries. Her TEDx talks have been widely received, and she recently spoke at Tony Robbins’ financial conference, addressing “The New Food Economy.”
Recruited by institutions like Enron and the oil and gas industry, Robyn grew up in Houston before moving to Colorado and is the founder of the AllergyKids Foundation and Do Good, a strategic advisory firm.
Her focus is on restoring the health of American families in order to address the burden that disease in placing on our economy. All of her initiatives and work address the needs of the 1 in 3 American children that now has allergies, autism, ADHD and asthma and the growing number of American children with cancer.
On Mother’s Day 2009, Random House published her acclaimed book, The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food Is Making Us Sick and What We Can Do About It and today, Robyn is regarded as a food and health expert and sought after speaker who lectures and writes extensively, addressing the economic burden that disease is placing on our families, our companies and our country.
She is constructive and solution-oriented, recognizing that solutions must address shareholders and stakeholders concerns if they are to be true solutions. Named after a farmer from New Zealand, she also is focused on supply chain issue and the financial structure of the farming system.
While she is often sought out by investment teams and capital groups, she remains committed to working with food companies, farmers and families and building a new food economy and is proud to have joined the founding team at rePlant Capital.
Since giving her first TEDx talk in 2011 in which she discusses research she conducted almost ten years ago, the World Health Organization now reports that the U.S. ranks 7th out of almost 200 countries worldwide in cancer rates and has declared glyphosate, an ingredient used on genetically modified crops, a “probable carcinogen.” Pediatric cancer and food allergy rates are still increasing in the United States, and her TEDx talk made Robyn a lightning rod for those resistant to seeing the status quo change.
Robyn firmly believes that while we can’t change the beginning of our stories, we can change the end. Two decades into this work, she is living testimony to the fact that hope is the knowledge that change is possible, even when it seems hard to imagine.
Robyn O’Brien is the Vice President of rePlant Capital, an impact investment firm, deploying integrated capital from soil to shelf in order to reverse climate change. The rePlant team is investing in privately held, deep impact opportunities, while supporting American farmers.
Robyn was a founding team member of of AIM/Invesco’s first hedge fund of $100+ million and a team member on their $20 billion Constellation Fund. She was an advisor to Paul Hawken’s “Drawdown” (published in April 2017) and has advised startups, banks and multinationals, while working with global CEOs and management teams in the food industry. Robyn is also the founder of Do Good, a strategic advisory firm, and AllergyKids Foundation, which serves the 1 in 3 children with allergies, asthma, ADHD and autism. Random House published Robyn’s book, The Unhealthy Truth, in 2009, and her TEDx talk has been viewed by millions and translated into multiple languages. She received her BA from Washington and Lee University, her MBA from Rice University on a full scholarship and also received a Fulbright fellowship. She is named after a farmer in New Zealand.