Claire Cummings has a long history in the food sphere. From structuring food policy in the public sector to a variety of action-oriented roles in food sustainability at Bon Appétit Management Company Foundation, Claire is a true advocate in addressing food waste on a national level, taking the initiative and striving for zero waste in all she does, both at work and in life.
Let’s start with your job. Bon Appétit operates in over 1000 restaurants across 33 US states, and its brand is built on food service for a sustainable future. Can you tell us a bit more about what that means? What are most restaurants doing wrong when it comes to food waste that seems so obvious to you? What are the easiest changes to mitigate these habits and improve operations to reduce this waste? You work up and down the food supply chain. Where along that line do you see the largest potential for an improvement in logistics and process management?
How is Imperfectly Delicious Produce implementing a change in that respect?
I’ll challenge the initiative, because I know you can take it. Doing a second harvest is time-intensive, and could potentially over churn the soil, so some farmers argue that the lower returns on uglier produce is not worth the effort, and therefore prefer to leave the leftovers in the ground to re-fertilize the soil for the following year. What is the main source of motivation to get farmers to buy in to this initiative? (Do they get the same return as with normal fruits and vegetables?)
The ever-changing menus at each one of your outlets can be costly if not well-managed. Many canteens would love to be able to do the same while keeping profit margins above water. Were you able to do this from the get-go before scaling, and if so, how did you manage to stay afloat?
Labels and certifications in the food industry. There are a plethora of them now, doing similar things to prove sustainable efforts made by supermarkets and restaurants. With more and more places getting an improved CSR image through a sticker or star, how will we really know how to differentiate between a company that is doing good and one that makes minimal effort?
You’ve been named a Garbage Guru as well as one of 30 Women Under 30 Changing Food. Both are flattering (although one uses more sophisticated terminology), but where does your passion stem from and how can we inject that into every individual on this planet?
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