1.We would like to know more about the ''Sustainable Food Movement''.
-Sustainable Food Movement is a social enterprise registered in Athens in 2017. Our mission is to tackle food waste and promote sustainability in the Greek Culinary Arts Industry mainly through education & consulting. We strongly believe that sustainable gastronomy is a vital part of the sustainable tourism and to be successful on that we need to reconsider everything in food production and cooking, hospitality and consumption as well. SFMinGR is a startup, awarded by the European StartUp Awards 2017 as the best, Greek, innovative startup in the Gastronomy category. It’s one of the egg (enter-grow-go) 5th cycle starts ups powered by Eurobank and Corallia and a Reload Greece Alumni startup. It’s run by a 5 member Board of Director, while Founder and President is Vee Bougani.
2.What is the impact of this concept on Greek tourism?
-The impact will soon be tremendous, as we’re entering a new era of quality certifications for the hospitality sector. Apart the necessity for businesses to be environmentally certified as sustainable, something that consumers are ready to pay up to 5% more on their budget according to their travel preferences, in Greece there is a high and serious demand for those businesses to minimize costs and reduce their CO2 (gas emissions) in case they want to be reached by potential investors. So, talking about financial sustainability which is very important for the rise of tourism in countries such as Greece, it’s inevitable to happen if there’s no social and environmental action.
SFMinGR mission is just that, to create or update existing businesses to socially and environmentally sustainable, protecting this way the environment and at the same time increasing their financial resources.
Sustainability is the only way to growth, a growth for employees and employers, the local communities and the country in general.
3.Do you find any difficulties to share this vision with chefs or people that own a restaurant?
-Absolutely! Nobody cares about the environment or the concept of sustainability if he’s underpaid and overworking in ugly, tough circumstances. I’ve worked for many years in various kitchens and I totally understand that being a chef isn’t a posh, cool job to do. And it’s not that creative as people think it is. So, coming back to your question, to be a chef 15 or 20 years ago it was an easy career job to follow. Today it isn’t. Sustainable gastronomy requires activism, environmentalism, sensitivity for the community and the environment, constant expertise, knowledge, education, people’s skills and passion. So, we need to re-train people, re-educate them, to create awareness and make them understand that a menu can be seasonal and local with 6 dishes only. We need to make them believe that “less is more” and profitable at the same time. They are approachable but they still don’t see any light in the tunnel. Our role is hard to play, because we need to be flexible and diplomatic if we want to achieve changes. However, there are few people who are sharing the same values with us and collaborations are quite strong. It takes time to be trustworthy, especially if you run a startup.
4.Is sustainability the future?
-Of course it is. There is no way back! Or maybe, in a poetic world, there is a way back. We need to go back 60 years ago, and learn from our grandparents how they used to produce and grow food, how they’ve made it financially and how they’ve taken care of their huge families while protecting and respecting the soil and the environment. Once we know the history of food, allowing memory to awaken us, then we can re-start as environmentally sensitive humans and ethical consumers. Yes, sustainability is the only future, if want our kids and grandchildren to be able to eat fresh food, drink clean water and have a safe playground where we can educate them through life.
5.What’s the best way to avoid wasting food?
-To not being greedy with it. Then to buy as much as you need, to check products dates, to avoid cooking at home but eating out, to think and act responsively with food as it’s something valuable, something that’s not taken for granted! Wasting water is much more serious than food, because once the water is off, there’s no food to grow in the planet. But let’s not being dramatic right now…
Another good way of avoiding wasting food is to freeze it so you can enjoy it another day or night, to give it away to friends and family members or even your neighbors. Preserving food is very important stage before consumption and there are plenty information in the web of how you can do it.
However, if you’re in Greece and you’re a posh hotel or restaurant, we can help you saving food through foodity, our digital innovative initiative. Foodity, is a low cost surplus food meals app for premium hotels and restaurants. Businesses can be profitable by selling surplus food meals, reducing their gas emissions and consumers can enjoy 3 premium meals a day at total cost of 15€ embracing ethical consumption and sustainability. It’s a win win situation for all of us, once food isn’t wasted.
6.Your vision about your own project?
-We are pilot testing foodity next month and to be honest with you, I’m eager to find out the first reactions. I’m positive that foodity will be a successful product on its own, a scalable one, ready to be expanded abroad. On the other hand, all I want for SFMinGR is to become a huge umbrella where it can host various initiatives, projects, teams, freelancers, anyone who can implement an idea sharing our values which are sustainable living and saving food while taking care of the environment. I do hope, in 10 years’ time, to be able to run a Culinary Arts school teaching sustainable gastronomy and have my own 100% sustainable and zero waste restaurant in Greece.
7.Your favorite restaurants are..?
-Being a huge foodie, I’ve got many. In Greece, I can mention Tamam Restaurant in Chania, Crete and Techne Restaurant & Social in Hydra. In Athens I just love dining at Vassilenas, Psariston, Balcony Restaurant & Bar and Cupola. Above all the restaurants I’ve visited in my life so far, the greatest one, the one I’ve had the best experience at, is the Coast restaurant at Saundersfoot in Pembrokeshire, UK.
8.What is thinking out of the box for you?
-That’s a good one! Oh well, it’s just thinking unconventionally and acting against all odds. Being a kind rebel and an elegant activist.