Producing food the way we do now, damages our planet and people. Many humans nowadays suffer from obese and food allergies due to bad food. Nature suffers from soil degradation due to too extensive use, a disappearing rain forest, polluted water, climate change. Animals loose their life and habitats due to pesticides and tree cuttings. Organic food might be a solution to battle this.
Looking at food in a new way, we can change our world, our climate, our health. How? By producing and distributing it with less carbon footprint, less water, less sugar, less meat, less land, less electricity, less transport. There’s many ways to approach all this. Nowadays lots of small businesses are working and studying on new forms of food, based on sustainability.
The small entrepreneurs that want to develop new alternatives face a challenge: if they want to establish a successful product, their food should be tasty, look good, be affordable and be profitable. Their products should not only be available for a happy few. In 2050 on our planet live 9 billions of people. There has never been a greater need to change the world of food.
Healthier food, healthier people and planet
On Friday June 23, I was invited to the final pitch event of the OFCCC, the Organic Food against Climate Change Challenge in Amsterdam. Eight business owners had to convince the jury their new organic and/or sustainable product is worth an investment of 10.000 euro’s, because it safes the world in some way.
The initiator of this was Wessanen, a food company with a mission in providing healthier food for healthier people and planet and therefore a strong focus on organic food. The challenge was supported by Impact Hub Amsterdam and Triodos Bank.
- Susanne de Raaij from healthy bar Biobite.
- Luxury organic and vegan candy from the brand Kändi.
- Meat alternatives from the brand Botanic Bites.
- Bieterbal, a vegan snack.
- Healthy peanutbutter from De Pindakaaswinkel.
- Charly’s All is Fair cheese alternative.
- The winners of the Wessanen-competition.
You’ve got to be crazy?
The food changers had followed a program to accelerate their food businesses, to scale up, collaborate in fighting climate change and have greater impact. They learned about finance, marketing and had to pitch their story at the closing event.
Chief Sustainability and Marketing Officer at Wessanen is Klaus Arntz. He mentioned that his financial colleagues were surprised after they had advised the participating entrepreneurs. “They do not know anything about finance!” Klaus answered something like this: “That is exactly why they are social entrepreneurs and you have a proper job.”
Well, yes… In the first place, you have to care about the world and not about figures, to start a sustainable initiative. Not to say: you have to be a bit crazy?
The participants of #OFACCC17
The jury could not choose between two companies, so those two both won an investment for further development of their businesses. Charly’s All is Fair and Botanic Bites got the 10.000 euro cheque. While listening to the pitches I thought the words ‘Climate Change’ in the challenge title were chosen a bit too narrowly , because not all of the contestants do have a special focus on that particular issue – the winners though, sure do have an eye on climate change.
Charlotte Zum Vörde Sive Vörding (love this name) is offering a cheese alternative, based on organic and unsalted nuts. It is organic, handmade and vegan, with a strong focus on excellent flavour. With her product she takes care of health, animals and the environment. “I want people to choose my Charly’s over animal milk cheeses. By doing this, we relieve pressure from the animal industry and decrease greenhouse gas reduction.”
Tasty seaweed and tomatoe burgers. Doreen Westphal started to develop them out of two motivations. “One: contribute towards a more sustainable food chain with new, innovative products using left over streams of regional farmers. We aim to produce as local as possible, this is one reason why we avoid soy. Two: extend the offer of delicious, pure, plant based food, to excite more people to explore sustainable eating having a positive impact on health, climate, animals and social justice.”
The Bieterbal is based on a very popular Dutch fried meet snack (a croquette ball), but made from the local ingredient beetroot and other pure ingredients. It is a vegetarian snack, free from artificial ingredients. Developer is chef Johan Karpathios, who is cooking in a sustainable way in his beautiful restaurant close to Amsterdam.
Susanne de Raaij invented her healthy Biobite by accident in her kitchen, because she wanted to learn people how to chew better on proper natural ingredients. The fresh bar is filled with natural tastiness like hazelnuts, almonds, seeds, dates, berries and apricots and valuable grains like spelt, oat and millet. “We encourage people to choose healthier food like ours, to keep them happy and fit. Instead of curing illnesses, we help prevent them.”
No palm oil, no added sugars, no artificial flavours. “On top of that we seek out the most honest, fair trade and/or organic ingredients”, says founder Michiel Vos. “We want to create an alternative to peanut butter. Building on this we will innovate a true substitute for meat.”
Purely vegan crackers and cookies without additives, preservatives and 100% organic. No gluten, lactose, yeast or refined sugar. The products are dried at low temperature.
High-quality candy bars and caramels, hand produced with only plant-based, organic food ingredients. Vegan. “It is time that candy stops being a cheap commodity and that it again becomes something to create exceptional moments”, claims founder Florian Huber.
Leaves and herbs grown in a vertical farm, pesticide free. By utilising an indoor production system it is possible to have local and fresh food everywhere in the world. The necessary surface is reduced up to 12 fold compared to traditional agriculture. This can significantly reduce deforestation and soil degradation. Plus it reduces transport emissions and provides fresh food ad social development opportunities to isolated communities.
An initiative focused on the prevention of food. The organisation picks up surplus food and uses it as inspiration and fuel for activities and events like food markets, community dinners, workshops. Founder Sophia Bensch aims to raise awareness about the enormous amount of food that is thrown away and educate people about how to prevent this.