For the founders of Kate Farms, it all started as a matter of life or death. 

Kate Farms is a story of initiative, continuation, and resolution in the face of long odds. One little girl's dire prognosis left her parents baffled by a gap in the marketplace. In filling it, they saved their daughter and countless others.

The Joy of Kate's Birth

Richard and Michelle had a baby girl named Kate. She was beautiful and lively, but Kate was born with a little black dot on her brain. Doctors told Richard and Michelle that Kate would be fine and grow up to live a normal life. But when Kate was five months old and couldn't grasp her rattle, they knew something was amiss.

Kate has cerebral palsy, a group of movement disorders that manifest in various ways. Kate's disorder made eating difficult. By the time she was three, Kate could only tolerate a liquid diet. Wasting away, by the time she was five years old, Kate only weighed 16 pounds. 

By that time, Richard had realized Kate's liquid diet was totally wrong for her. The top four ingredients in the liquid were water, sugar, corn syrup, and maltodextrin. Maltodextrin is a highly processed carbohydrate with no nutritional value. Hardly the cornerstones of a healthy diet.

Richard went to his doctor and asked a simple question. "If, for three years, I were to drink the liquid that Kate's drinking, what would happen to me?"

His doctor replied, "Richard, it's likely you'd have an autoimmune disorder."

"Then why would we expect a different result for Kate?"

Why, indeed.

"It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self-interest. We address ourselves not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities, but of their advantages."

― Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature & Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Vol 1

Richard Gives Himself The Invisible Hand

As luck would have it, a dietician friend of Richard happened to be visiting. Together, they looked at the ingredients of a bottle of formula.

What if they could recreate the formula using only fresh, organic ingredients from the local store?

They embarked on their quest immediately.

"Alfred, let's go shopping."

Using the formula label as a shopping list, they began selecting ingredients.

Oat milk to replace the milk protein concentrate. Flax oil to replace the hydrogenated oil. Hemp and pea protein to replace whey and soy. Real, organic bananas to replace the cheap potassium supplement. Brown rice syrup to replace the maltodextrin and corn syrup. 

The unique assembly of assets is the hallmark of an entrepreneur. Of course, Richard was only thinking about Kate's health. But this is how capitalism redirects wholly laudable self-interest to serve the masses.

Richard didn't stop there. He thought to himself, "If Katie keeps getting sick, then her immune system is broken. So it's not enough to just mimic another shake. We need an entirely new kind of shake. One with antioxidants, and superfoods, and everything she needs to help rebuild that broken immune system."

It paid off, as Kate thrived. Her hair shone, her eyes brightened, sleep and digestion improved, and her energy levels shot up.

Richard started to comb the planet for all-natural superfoods to fortify the new shake. He got acerola from Mexico, mangosteen from southeast Asia, camu camu from Peru. Michelle kept track of all the recipes they created in a special notebook. Soon they began packaging the shake in mason jars for portability.

Michelle was so impressed by Kate's transformation she went vegan. Though Richard didn't become a vegan, his diet improved as well. Very soon, he could run farther on his twice-weekly workouts.

Word of Mouth Starts to Spread

Now it's a whole new ballgame. Other people had heard of Kate's shake and began asking for it. What had started as a labor of love had grown into something more important than they had ever foreseen.

This wasn't just about Kate anymore. It was about the thousands, maybe millions of other Kates out there. No longer did they have to suffer for lack of the right food.

For One, To Many

That was 2011. Two years and 70 home batches later, the first commercially sealed bottle of Kate's shake hit the shelves. It wasn't long before Richard and Michelle launched another version of the shake for retail consumers.

Since then, Kate Farms products have nourished tens of thousands of people around the world. Because of the high-quality nutrition in each bottle, Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance now cover it. 

It's amazing what parents' love for their child can do. They created massive positive change - both for their family and many others. This is capitalism at its very finest. We applaud entrepreneurs like Richard and Michelle. Not only did they take ownership of this serious problem, but they created an excellent solution. They never quit when some in the medical establishment initially opposed their views. Our world is better for their tenacity, ingenuity, and grit.

Where to buy Kate Farms products?

Kate Farms products are available on their own website and on, amongst other venues.

Where is Kate Farms located?

Kate Farms' corporate headquarters is in Santa Barbara, CA. Its East Coast office is in Waltham, MA. 

Is Kate Farms vegan?

According to Reed Mangels, Ph.D., RD:

Kate Farms formulas can either be the sole source of nutrients or used for supplemental or oral feedings. They contain:

  • organic pea protein
  • organic coconut oil
  • sunflower oil
  • organic flax oil
  • organic brown rice syrup solids
  • and, organic agave syrup 

The products are fortified with vitamins and minerals, certified gluten-free, and do not contain artificial flavors or the most common allergens. These formulas are vanilla-flavored and are available at concentrations of 1.2 calories per milliliter and 1.5 calories per milliliter.

Kate Farms products are suitable for vegans. They even provided the great chart below:

The Takeaway

Mission-driven businesses solve important problems for the people they serve. Your strong passion and drive to make your customers' lives better will help pull you through the growing pains of your business. Whatever that business is, know we are rooting for you. But even more, remember that the people you'll serve desperately hope you won't quit before you get there.