Join us for the final part of our Exploring Sustainable Food Systems episode which shines a spotlight on Networks and Community Builders.
This time we look at how our guests have found alternative ways to approach sustainability and provide solutions that reach into the wider community and their local networks.
In this episode, we spoke with Imani Black, the founder of Minorities In Aquaculture, an organisation that promotes a more diverse and inclusive aquaculture industry. She shares how she went from being the only woman of colour at management level in her workforce to founding a network for inclusivity in the aquaculture space that has led to more opportunities and diversity within the industry through education and awareness.
Our second guest was Bastiaan Frich, a leading member of Urban Agriculture Basel, a network that promotes projects in the Basel region committed to organic and holistic food cycles. Bastiaan shares how the ripple effect of small changes have the power and ability to make a huge impact in how we live and how the phrase “What if?” has maintained an element of curiosity within the organisation that has consistently encouraged them to keep trying new things.
Finally, we spoke with Romain Oeggerli and Yohann Pellaux. The co-founders of Alles Gut! Gemüse Kebab, the first sustainable kebab restaurant in Geneva. Their non profit organisation has multiple approaches; Not only have they created a system that provides the community with the opportunity to easily contribute to feeding those in need, they also use local, fresh ingredients which are recognised by GRTA as having quality, proximity, traceability and fairness at the forefront of their produce.
If you have started your own journey with exploring sustainable food options, be sure to share your experiences by connecting with us on our social handles. You find us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Be sure to visit our Guests page for the detailed list of guests featured in this series.
This short series on Exploring Sustainable Food Systems is supported by Fructify Network.
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Hello dear listeners. Welcome to Narratives of Purpose, you are now tuned into a new episode showcasing unique stories of changemakers, stories of people who are contributing to make a difference in society. This show was created to amplify social impact by sharing individual journeys of ordinary people who I believe are making extraordinary impact within their communities and around the world. My name is Claire Murigande, I am your host on this podcast. If you want to be inspired to take action, then look no further. You are in the right place, so get comfortable and listen to my conversations.
It's been a learning process. It's been something that was a little unexpected, but it has really grown into, not only just that community piece, but also a resource and support piece for women of colour, especially with our career development. Resources, internships, industry connections, funding for conferences, certifications - Anything that they need to further their career in aquaculture in whatever sector they want to. But now we're really looking at expanding to cover all underrepresented demographics that are in aquaculture.
You just heard from Imani Black, the founder of Minorities in Aquaculture. Today's episode is the final episode of the short series exploring sustainable food systems. As Imani alluded to, our topic for this episode is Building Community around Food Production. Not only will we look into the aquaculture industry with Imani at the US and international level, we will also look at supporting organic and holistic food cycles, as well as creating local supply chain networks to revolutionise fast food here in Switzerland. First in the northern part with Urban Agriculture Basel, and one of their founding members Bastiaan Frich, then in the western part with Alles Gut! Gemüse Kebab Restaurant, and its two co-founders Romain Oeggerli and Yohann Pellaux. Let's find out how these changemakers are contributing to develop a more sustainable and healthier food system.
And for this episode, but also for our Sustainable Food Series, to reach more people I invite you to take a moment and share your feedback by giving us a review on Apple podcasts or directly on our website at narratives-of-purpose.podcastpage.io then simply click on the review page. This will help other listeners find our show and further amplify the stories of changemakers we bring on Narratives of Purpose.
In this final part of my exploring Sustainable Food Systems on the podcast, I had the pleasure to speak with a young generation of community and network builders who are either restaurant owners or nonprofit organisation founders. I first dived in aquaculture to learn about this industry with Imani Black. And trust me when I say learn, because it is way more than what I initially thought it to be. So Imani is the founder of Minorities in Aquaculture, in short, MIA; a nonprofit which believes that one can create a more diverse and inclusive industry by educating minority women about the environmental benefits provided by aquaculture. Imani is a sustainable seafood advocate, she is passionate about the restoration of keystone species, especially shellfish, both locally and globally. But Imani believes that the restoration of oysters and other critical shellfish populations requires more people and more diversity. I asked Imani about how she began her journey in aquaculture, and especially what led her to create MIA.
My name is Imani Black. I am a former oyster farmer on the Chesapeake Bay in the United States on the East Coast. I am a double minority in the aquaculture sense because I am a female and a person of colour all in one, and so aquaculture, which is basically just farming but in the water and for seafood instead of terrestrial products, it's a male dominated field. And so women in a lot of sectors are very scarce. I have been in oyster aquaculture for about six years going on seven years now, I got into a right out of college and kept with it over the years working in all the different sectors of hatchery, nursery, and farm. In 2020 my career took a shift and I got more into the social science aspects of aquaculture. I started my nonprofit, Minorities and Aquaculture and then I became a Masters Student at University of Maryland, studying Ecological Anthropology. So a little bit of a twist, but I'm hoping to get back into the commercial aquaculture sector. But for now, I'm in academia and nonprofit.
So you just said that you're not doing an MBA and you went into social science at the same time that created Minorities in Aquaculture, which is your nonprofit organisation. Tell me more about how that started? Why did you want to create this?
That's a really crazy, unexpected story. Like I said, I had been working on oyster farms and with oyster companies since I graduated college, from 2018 to 2020. I was the Assistant Hatchery Manager for the first privately owned shellfish hatchery in the state of Maryland. So really I was in charge of animal husbandry of larvae, pretty much just making sure that they didn't die, that they had all they needed. 2020 was an unexpected shift, I lost my job. And it was really in a space right in the heart of the diversity and inclusion movement, and just being really moved by the conversations that I was seeing, the conversations I was having, and the feelings that I was having as a person of colour during that time. With Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd and so many other incredible, influential African Americans that lost their lives so tragically, I was really affected by that. And so I really started to think, were my spaces that I was involved in, and that were influencing me, were they as safe and inclusive as I thought they were? And once I took a step back, I realised that they weren't. And that in a lot of instances, whether it was misogyny, or racial, or microaggressions, there were multiple times where I didn't feel safe in a lot of my workspaces. So I set out in 2020, when no one could really give me an answer on where other people of colour were in leadership roles in agriculture, and when I say leadership roles, I mean Hatchery Managers, Assistant Hatchery Managers, Farm Owners, anything like that. And so when no one could give me an answer, and that really started Minorities In Aquaculture, to find other women of colour that looked like me that I could share my experiences with that they could share their experiences with me and we could start a community, since I hadn't worked with another woman of colour in my space ever before. But then it's just grown to so much more than that. I officially launched the nonprofit in October of 2020. I had no idea how to start a nonprofit, let me just put that out there. I Googled "how do I start a nonprofit?" and I've just been Googling things ever since then. It's just sort of been working out. And so it's been a learning process, it's been something that was a little unexpected, but has really grown into not only just that community piece, but also a resource and support piece for women of colour, especially with our career development resources, internships, industry connections, funding for conferences, certifications, anything that they need to further their career in aquaculture in whatever sector they want to, but then now we're really looking at expanding to cover all underrepresented demographics that are in aquaculture, just to be able to be that connection, that support and those resources that they can go to whatever demographic that they're in. That's kind of where we are right now.
Let me come back to something you mentioned earlier, you spoke about leadership roles and having role models. Can you perhaps just break it down for me and for our listeners to understand how an oyster farm works? And when you're speaking about aquaculture, is it only oysters?
Sometimes there is a lot of miseducation and misrepresentation of what aquaculture truly is. It really is just like agriculture, like farming on land just in the water. It's not just shellfish, fin-fish is a really big industry. Kelp is now becoming a really flourishing industry. They're doing coral aquaculture to restore coral reefs in a lot of places all over the world, and a variety of different seafoods that really encompass our seafood industry and fall under ‘aquaculture’ and ‘aquaculture practices’. As an oyster farmer, my main job in the hatchery was to basically breed the adults. A lot of the aquaculture practices are just mimicking what oysters go through in their natural life cycle, it's just in that controlled setting. So once we get viable oysters that are free-swimming, growing, getting that mature stage where they want to set on a hard substrate and be sessile for the rest of their life, we're really just giving them as many nutrients as we can, giving them clean tanks and environments, clean water, clean quality all around so that they can be the best larvae that they can. And then as they go through, we're just basically doing the same thing, we're grading them out so there's no competition, making sure their environments clean, making sure they have enough food, making sure that they make it to the next stage, and then it goes on until it gets to people's dinner plate. So yeah, it's a lot of hands-on stuff that you have to do at each different stage of aquaculture. Finfish is one of the biggest industries in aquaculture right now, and in the United States, we import 84% of our seafood anyway and about 30% of that is coming from aquaculture globally. So it's really becoming the centre point of our seafood production right now.
A lot of people don't know that and I think that's one of the most important things and reasons why I like having conversations like this to really hone in on that point of, if you like seafood, then you are directly connected to aquaculture in some way, whether you know it or not. So it's just really important to learn about that industry because it will become the focal point of our sustainable seafood resource all over the world. So the faster that people get on board with it, learn about it, advocate for it, advocate for research and innovations, the more that it can become more sustainable and more improved for everybody.
And is that also one of the activities that you do with MIA in terms of creating more awareness and explaining it to people? I always have this thought that whenever I go and buy food, it's always important to try to understand where it comes from. So is that something that you also address through your organisation in terms of awareness, that people should also try to put in the effort to learn more about where their food is coming from?
Definitely, I think that's the most important piece of really giving people power in their food choices is to help them understand and be educated on how they can know where their food is coming from. So we're toying with a bunch of different ideas on how we expand that education and that knowledge right now? And what are the most impactful ways of doing that? We have about 120+ members right now, women of colour all over the world. And so they're mostly already in aquaculture at all different stages from undergrad to the ones who have been in the industry for years. So it's really the new members that come in that might do an internship or something like that, that don't know about aquaculture. That's where we really try to do the hands-on piece and the educational materials at the same time, so that they're getting the best of both worlds and meshing what they're learning textbook wise with what they're learning hands-on wise.
As Imani mentioned, she is based in Maryland, but the members of her organisation are all over the world. They are mostly on the east and west coasts of the United States where the engagement is highest. However, the reach expands to other countries like Norway, Sri Lanka, and Italy. I was curious to know about the partners Imani collaborates with in order to provide the right resources and support to MIA members.
As far as the resources and the funding that we've gotten, I've just worked really hard to create partnerships with aquaculture farmers and other organisations that want to support our efforts. We've gotten grants from other organisations to be able to do our internship programme, we fully funded five women of colour this summer in our first kickoff year of the internship programme, which came from multiple different funding sources. So I do what we can, I'm always applying to grants, I always have a list of different programmes and stuff that are currently going and that I'm in the works of doing for MIA that I'm constantly in meetings where there's funding opportunities, and like, "well, I have a programme that's over here that I'm fundraising for, so here's all the stuff, then if it fits, it fits. And if it doesn't, then I have another programme." You know, I kind of have them on Deck, just in case a funding opportunity or a partnership opportunity comes up and it fits perfectly so that we are able to support and do as much as we want to do. I've really made it so that Minorities In Aquaculture can really mitigate some of the barriers that women of colour and minorities in marine sciences in general have to go through, and take them out of the equation as much as we can and say, "hey, here's this opportunity, go and get as much out of it as you can, and help your career move forward in whatever way that you want it to without worrying about financial or any of those other things."
Now, you've heard about the importance for MIA to integrate the education piece when addressing sustainability, in terms of improving the seafood industry, but also improving food resources. I also wanted to know what challenges Imani thinks still lie ahead. Please note that my conversation with Imani was recorded in September 2022 at the time when MIA was just about to celebrate its two year anniversary since the launch in October 2020.
There's two things that come to mind. I've been saying this in conferences and different aquaculture spaces, but there's a lack of transparency in a lot of sectors of aquaculture, that when we have misconceptions about the industry, we can't combat them, and as an industry, we get very upset about films like Seaspiracy representing the industry, not in a whole accurate way, or the misinformation that for oyster aquaculture, for example, or even finfish, "its genetically modified foods, and it's unsafe," all of those things are just so far off base from the good stuff that we're doing in aquaculture that our communication within the industry really needs to amp up. So if somebody reads those misconceptions, they have resources that they can go to, to combat those directly. But we don't really have anything like that. I think the second thing is that education piece. In the industry, we have to really start expanding what our outreach is, how wide we're casting out our nets because diversity and inclusion to me, just doesn't mean background and ethnicity, it means a diverse skill labour, a diverse outlook on where the future of aquaculture can be. All of those things combined, could really elevate where we are in the industry of seafood.
So from your perspective now today, it's almost the end of 2022, how do you see things moving forward? Are we going in the right direction? What is your outlook?
I think in a lot of ways we're heading in the right direction, but in a lot of ways, we're stuck in a rut. I think that was one of the things that I really realised when I started with Minorities and aquaculture is like, "why do we keep talking about diversity and inclusion? Can we just - let's let's go? Let's get it going!" But, I just think that in a lot of ways we're moving forward in that sustainability piece, really trying to figure out 'how do we improve our industry? How do we improve our food resources?' But I think that in a lot of ways we're stuck in like the history piece, we don't really acknowledge that social science is just as important as hard science. And the past really does shape the future. We can't learn where we're going next until we learn where we've been and what we've done. If we continue to move in the right directions and really amplify the voices that need to be amplified, that haven't been represented very well over the last few years, if we get that information out, then we can continue to move at really, really great speed and in a really, really great impactful way. And I think there's a perception that doing something impactful takes a really long time to make it impactful. And that's not necessarily the case. If you want to do something impactful, you can do something today that impacts somebody else. You just have to do it in an intentional and efficient way. So, for MIA, everyone's like, "Well, how are you recruiting students? How do we recruit members?" And just from them finding us really what I do is, I go to where the momentum is already sparked. Historically Black Colleges in the United States have marine biology programmes and have biology programmes. You talk about a diverse applicant pool, that's a great place to start. People that already have an interest in the field, clearly, they declared it as a major, they have an interest, give them the opportunities. Schools that have different marine programmes, that's a great place to start. Schools and coastal communities, that's a great place to start. So, it's not that it's not hard, it's just that I think that people think about it too tightly. And so the perception is like, "oh, it takes five to 10 years to make a really impactful minority engagement programme." And I'm like, "No MIA has done more than that in less than two years." And I would like to think we've had a really great impact on our minority engagement. So it just shows you that if you really want to do it, you'll do it.
Moving from sea to soil and back to Switzerland where my exploration began, I came across a network organisation called Urban Agriculture Basel, in short: UAB, whose mission is to promote other organisations and projects committed to an organic and holistic food cycle in the Basel region. So geographically speaking, that is the northwestern part of the country, close to the French and German borders. In fact, UAB advises project initiators or organisations on how to use their energy most effectively for regenerative, soil friendly and future-generation friendly nutrition. UAB also raises awareness among the population about the need to make our food supply more sustainable. Bastiaan Frich is one of the leading members of Urban Agriculture Basel, he explained to me what this means exactly.
What we have done since our inception and what we still do today is encouraging people to become proactive themselves in a so-called Living Transformation Lab, encouraging people to take action now in a very accessible way, and develop alternatives because what we see is that 'business as usual' is not an option. We work a lot based on the World Agriculture Report, but also other reports, for example, the EAT commission report, and the Planetary Health Diet, so we are guided by that. Therefore, we try to create alternatives without claiming that we have ready-made solutions, but we have the courage to try something, to reflect to fail together and we naturally create a community where you have a trusting space for people to inspire each other to support each other, or even to embrace each other in a sad moment and say, "Okay, maybe that wasn't a good idea. So let's try another one"
Urban Agriculture Basel was founded in 2010 with this fascinating question to begin with "What if?" and this question has led the organisation to develop numerous projects along the food supply chain? Have a listen.
"What if Basel were edible?" That was our original question and from that other 'what if' questions arose? In the past 12 years, about 100 projects have emerged from this that are part of our network and these projects are along the entire food supply chain. It goes from production, to processing, distribution, shopping, cooking, eating, to recycling, composting, seeding or planting.
So what are some examples of these projects? Mind you, since the name of the organisation is Urban Agriculture, I had this vision of gardens disseminated on building rooftops. But Bastiaan candidly wiped out this image from my mind and explained that classical projects of city gardens are only a small fraction of what they support.
You are probably imagining, like in New York; these green flat roofs with vegetable production. We don't have that in the strict sense in Basel. We try whenever possible to exploit the potential in the soil. We have, of course, some community gardens in the sense, there are many small garden projects in the family garden areas, projects with multiple generations, kindergarten with elderly people's homes or things like that. But coming back to what I said earlier, we have projects along the entire food supply chain. There are also projects that collect wild herbs and weeds and refine them into products. Or we also have very classic educational projects, or seasonal cooking. We have mushroom production on coffee grounds, there's a very diverse range. So there are actually few limits to creativity. And you can do that without a garden. You can do it in your kitchen, you can do it through your shopping behaviour, you can do it whenever you go out.
Over the years, Urban Agriculture Basel has grown in the number of projects they developed. These are all autonomous, self-managed, individual legal structures, such as nonprofit cooperatives, limited liability companies, associations, spin offs, or even foundations. UAB has therefore become a reference point or a Competence Centre, especially for launching projects. The main goal, as Bastiaan said early on, is that people are active and encouraged to do something. You can even find the different steps to initiate your own project listed on the UAB website as inspiration for anyone to start the change themselves. Bastiaan also told me that for their multi stakeholder model of work to be successful today, one needs alliances and good partnerships. That got me wondering about the impact of UAB, so I asked Bastian to share some highlights of their work and especially how their influence at the local level has evolved in the past 12 years.
I think there are major successes to which we have simply contributed to, which must also be humbly celebrated and from which we are perhaps not even perceived from the outside as having made significant contributions to. But that is typical for the grassroot movements, they are always operating in grey areas. But the fact that today, the canton and city of Basel developer can actually present everything in a way that seems obvious. I heard a speech from him a couple of weeks ago, and I was very, very pleased when I heard his speech although he has only been in office for two years. This has very much to do with our commitment 10 years ago with our political commitment in the background, but also through voting. For example, the recent climate justice initiative, which we also strongly supported. We also accompanied the Canton of Basel to Expo Milano. There we played a different role with the former city president with whom we had a very good relationship. We assisted in the signature of the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact, Basel was one of the first cities to sign it. This gave the political legitimacy to write a strategy for Sustainable Food for Basel, we always act as a catalyst at critical points contributing and actually enabling something, the fact that there is even a position for sustainable nutrition in the Cantonal Administration, and that is currently so high up on the agenda as never before, is of course nice to see. And we have certainly also contributed to that. It is obviously not only thanks to us, but we are pleased to see this, because we still have a lot to do
Looking ahead in the next five years or so, I was curious to know what the future looks like for Urban Agriculture Basel. Bastiaan told me that the organisation is currently at an inflection point, and he presented three options; there is the option to continue as they have been working so far, with the risk of being overtaken by other organisations they may have initiated. A second option is to further support running projects, or take on new projects and further improve them beyond the startup phase in areas such as creating stable financing in the entire network for more autonomy, or by increasing their presence in decision-making bodies in Basel. The third option would be to figure out how they can scale some of their most successful projects. And then there is the creative answer to my question in Bastiaan's own words, take a listen.
There is a very creative and wild answer, and that's really to 'Go crazy'. As you said earlier, there is still so much that can be done, and there needs to be a balance. So utopia is actually an impossible version of the future, but I think we have always had utopian thoughts and some of them have in fact happened. We have 'Dream Glasses' , a kind of pair of glasses that we sometimes put on, and when we look through them, well, Basel looks obviously very different. It has completely different sounds, different scents, different plants, a different city climate, and you can think very far and very wild. So that is why we just 'do', and what continues to motivate us. It's in the small things, but it's a lot of small things and if a lot of people do a lot of small things, then that's certainly a good next step.,
We have more coming up from our guests. Stay with us, we'll be right back after this short break.
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Welcome back to Narratives of Purpose. This is the final episode from the short series exploring sustainable food systems. Today the focus is on building community and networks around food production. Before the break, you heard from Imani and the work her nonprofit, Minorities in Aquaculture carries out to promote a more diverse, inclusive aquaculture industry. You also heard from Bastiaan, a founding member of Urban Agriculture Basel, he shared how his network organisation raises awareness on the need to make food supply more sustainable.
To finish off my exploration of Sustainable Food Systems in this short series, let's go to where it all started, in Geneva, with Romain Oeggerli and Yohann Pellaux, the two co-founders of the first sustainable kebab restaurant in the city. These two young entrepreneurs, respectively 30 and 29 years old, got me started on this whole sustainable food journey. Their ambition is to revolutionise fast food. Essentially, they want to make it healthier and more sustainable. Listen to Yohann explain what is Alles Gut! Gemüse Kebab (that is the name of the restaurant) and how their journey began.
It’s a Kebab, a Gemüse Kebab. The recipe is from Berlin and it is a little bit different, so it has vegetables in it. We do have meat, we have chicken, but we try to favour vegetarian and vegan. And the idea is then to make the transition and have only vegetarian and vegan. And we tried to adapt this project to our values and to the local economy. How was it created? In fact, we met each other at a business school, we quickly became friends and we tried to launch different projects. We were attracted to entrepreneurship quite early, and then Romain went to Berlin.
If you recall from our preview episode introducing this short series. Germüse means 'vegetables' in German. I have to say that I was surprised they decided to give a German name to their restaurant, which literally translates to “All Good Vegetable Kebab”. But then the second part of the origin story, told now by Romain, explains the connection to Germany.
I had the chance to do an Erasmus in Berlin. This cultural connection also came from Berlin and so I discovered Alles Gut! Gemüse Kebab or Mustafa Gemüse Kebab, which opened in 2006. I was still a student at the time, and I loved street food. It was a kebab recipe reimagined, a little more refreshing with vegetables, feta cheese, cucumbers, and other types of raw vegetables, then the classic tomato and onion salad that we know. So when I came back here in Geneva, I talked about it for a long time with Yohann, for four years until the idea matured. And we said "Well, why not do it?"
So basically Romain and Yohann's Gemüse Kebab recipe is based on the Berlin recipe, but they adapted it to match locally available and seasonal vegetables. Also, the free range chicken meat is local. In addition, they have their own homemade sauces and marinade, which are different from the ones in Berlin. On top of that, the bread has been adapted as well, because they worked with the local artisans to produce it. In fact, their initial entrepreneurial project evolved with time into aligning with their sustainability values. Romain told me that almost 95% of their products are labelled GRTA. GRTA is the acronym for Geneva Région-Terre Avenir; Meaning that the great majority of the ingredients are sourced in the Geneva region. Gemüse Kebab opened in 2020, we recorded this interview in October 2022 exactly two years after Romain and Yohann launched their restaurant. So, I was curious to find out what were the main challenges they had to face while establishing themselves in the local fast food landscape, this is what Romain said:
There are so many things, I'll talk about the first one that comes to mind. It is that we got into something that is so popular, kebab sandwiches, given we had these values that we wanted to make a homemade and local kebab. Well, we automatically had to be more expensive. But in people's minds, a kebab is 10 francs, it was 10 francs, now with inflation, even the kebabs have increased a little bit. And so it was complicated, there was really and there still is an effort of communication to be made. Also, because we are a nonprofit, limited liability company. People don't have the information when they go to a restaurant, they don't necessarily know what's behind it. At the beginning, people thought it's 13 francs 50, that was our initial price, and they saw a lot of customers at noon, so they thought that we were making it out of money. It's really the communication effort that was and still is a challenge. Because of the inflation we are experiencing, we've had to change our prices this week for the second time, given that our margins are so low, in order to reach our sustainability objectives, and not to be under too much pressure. The challenge though is not to become a kebab only for rich people who could afford it, we want to remain accessible and try to suit all budgets
Now coming back to the restaurant's sustainability values, Gemüse Kebab is also contributing to professional integration with their own programme. Listen to Yohann talk about their team members and their achievements with the programme so far.
Our team is very diverse, we have almost as many women as men, which is rare in kebab restaurants in general. In terms of professional integration, we had the idea of launching a programme in fact to become a springboard for people with a migrant background who have obtained asylum in Switzerland, people who have F Permits, or who have permits which makes it genuinely difficult for them to find work because companies are afraid they don't know much about it. We started with Atiq who has been working with us for more than a year now. He's a young Afghan, 23 years old, who came to Switzerland at the age of 16. Atiq has worked all his life, his journey is admirable and he will take on even more responsibilities in the near future. Our whole team has followed us since the beginning, we are now more or less 10 employees working at Alles Gut! Gemüse Kebab.
As you know, one of the questions I always ask my guests about is the impact of their work. This time I wanted to understand whether Romain and Yohann were already able to measure the impact of their restaurant activities and how they intended to qualify or quantify this impact. So it turns out that this is a major question because they are aware that they are carrying out good practices with their restaurant to reduce their environmental impact. However, measuring what is sustainable, or what is not sustainable, is currently a big issue. And there is no approved body at the macro level that assesses sustainability using standard criteria in the hospitality sector or elsewhere. That being said, Gemüse Kebab is in discussion with a local company, which developed an app to assess corporate social responsibility and they are in the midst of figuring out if this might be a useful tool for them to measure their impact.
The company is called My Sustainable Company, and in fact, it is a digital platform gamified based on the ISO 26,000, it takes into account in a holistic way all the aspects of CSR, and we will look at tasks to measure the impact we have, then see how we can improve. Or maybe we are very good, but if there are ways to improve, they will tell us how and they also give us the tools to implement and also how to communicate. As Romain said, communication is crucial. So, how can we communicate so that the message gets through, and we are as close as possible to what we really do?
Yohann just mentioned ISO or I.S.O 26,000. This is a popular standard, which is increasingly viewed as a way of assessing an organisation's commitment to sustainability and its overall performance. At the end of our conversation, I asked both co-founders about success stories from their sustainable kebab restaurant. Yohann mentioned their ability to pay their employees more than the standard wages since the beginning, even though the restaurant business is not yet profitable. Then Romain added this other story:
There is also this idea that we had at the beginning of the project, the suspended kebabs. In fact, customers have the possibility to buy a sandwich at a reduced price for someone in need, there are a little less than 700 of them now, so almost one a day since we opened. We even put it on our menu now. We have three sandwiches on the menu, the vegan, the vegetarian, and the chicken. And then we have the fourth one, which is the suspended kebab. It costs 10 francs instead of 14.50 for the chicken or 11.50 for the vegan. So the way it works, a customer comes and buys let's say a vegan kebab for themselves, and another suspended one for someone in need. Then we have a board where we will simply write down the availability. This board is visible through our window from the street. And we gave flyers to associations that provide food to their beneficiaries, so they simply inform them that at our place, there is food offered, according to the availability.
To conclude this final episode that highlighted changemakers, building communities and networks around sustainable food production, let me share with you the individual recommendations from today's guests for each of us to also contribute to a more sustainable food system in our everyday lives. First up is Imani Black, the founder of MIA, Minorities in Aquaculture,
There are some parts of your food system that you won't be able to identify, but identify the ones that you can, and make those choices. In regards to seafood, find companies that align with your morals and values when it comes to production, when it comes to harvesting when it comes to climate change, any other kind of ecological impacts that you stand on, make sure that the food that you eat, if you're eating seafood or meat or whatever, is coming from locally sourced if it can. If it's not locally sourced it's coming from and being shipped in from a good company. There are tons of salmon and other seafood companies that I really do enjoy personally and that I've gotten my family and friends on too. So learn where you can in your food system and learn it well and make those decisions well.
The second one to share his recommendations is Romain Oeggerli the co-founder of Alles Gut! Gemüse Kebab restaurant in Geneva.
I recently attended a Swiss Veg conference about vegetarian nutrition. I was also able to become aware and gather information on the impact that a vegetarian diet can have as opposed to a meat diet. So I would advise this because in my opinion, today, it's quite easy to have a vegetarian diet and still have the pleasure of eating well. Also, everything that comes from industrial farming, in fact, should be avoided. Well if for example, you travel, you can discover something that is produced without too much volume, but then it's really everything that is industrial that we should avoid in my opinion.
Still with Alles Gut! Gemüse Kebab Restaurant, the other co founder, Yohann Pellaux, shares his recommendation which is not directly related to nutrition, but a recommendation for everyone to contribute to a more sustainable environment.
I like Romain's advice, but if I have to give another one, it is related to mobility, so I'm favouring soft mobility especially the bicycle and the train, because in fact it has an impact on pollution, but pollution at several levels. Whether it is co2 emissions, noise pollution, I think that it is also important for the quality of life of our cities today. Trains will start to develop more and more so that we can travel more easily.
And closing up our recommendations part is Bastiaan Frich, leading member of UAB, the Urban Agriculture Basel network.
Intuitively, I would say with every meal you can change a lot, making yourself aware of that is a gigantic little step. That, of course, goes further with every purchase by looking for alternatives, 'where can you reduce food waste?' 'Where can you cook cleverly and maybe use the food again the next day?' Then of course, you can just educate yourself in this area. And ultimately, you can also simply become active. Just drop by have a look, in every city there are committed people who want to make a change. So the best day to start is now.
So what about you? Are you involved in a local or global network around sustainable food production? Are you part of a community garden in your neighbourhood? Or do you regularly share seasonal cooking recipes with your friends? We'd love to hear from you. Share your experiences with us by connecting on our social handles. You'll find the links in the episode show notes. And that's a wrap on our special short series exploring sustainable food systems. I truly hope that my conversations with the 11 guests throughout these three last episodes have been insightful. I hope that you have gained more knowledge on what is happening in some parts of the world around the sustainable food movement, and perhaps you have made new considerations or even initiated some changes in your habits.
Thank you so much for tuning in today. I appreciate you taking the time. Remember that you can share this episode with your network with your friends and your family. As always, we would appreciate you rating our show with five stars on Spotify. Last but not least, we have set ourselves up to grow a thriving membership community that gives you exclusive content and exclusive access to our podcast, please check our Patreon page and choose a membership level you feel comfortable donating for. All the details are at patreon.com/noppodcast. We are grateful for your support.
Until the next episode, take care of yourself, stay well, eat well and as always stay inspired.
This podcast was edited and produced by Tom Evan Hughes at rustic studios.
This episode was written, translated, edited and hosted by Claire Murigande.