Food has always brought people together through the communal dinner table.
But as Float House Gastown founders Andy and Mike Zaremba discovered on their latest #VancouverSurvivalGuide podcast, food in the modern age is actually bringing people together in big cities.
Their food and nutrition month series continued with an interview with Peter van Stolk, CEO of Sustainable Produce Urban Delivery, commonly known as SPUD.
For van Stolk, food isn’t just a business venture – it literally changed his life.
1. Be The Change You Want In The World
Van Stolk is the founder of Jones Soda, but discovered after years of success he felt unsatisfied in a business in which people “over-consumed.”
“I just didn't want to sell sugar water when it came down to it,” he says. “We all have to take ownership of our own changes and as we make our changes, we all want everyone else to change, but true ownership is allowing ourselves to change.”
Through SPUD, van Stolk found a business that promotes sustainability through its use of hyper-local, organic food items from area farms. Most large grocery stores are loaded with waste, van Stolk said, with produce sitting at the bottom of displays getting tossed – up to 6% wasted. By contrast, SPUD is just 0.05%!
2. Create Community Through Connection
People can waste more than three hours every week driving and shopping for groceries. SPUD.ca allows people to chill with a coffee and design their own menu plans in minutes, freeing them up to spend more time being active in the community.
3. Talk About Food
SPUD has created a community through opening up food dialogues. Its Be Fresh locations include access to an in-house nutritionist. SPUD offers a banned ingredients list – like the dreaded high-fructose corn syrup - so busy people don’t have to read the labels and worry about what’s in their food. Aside from running and yoga events, look for upcoming SPUD weekend farmer’s markets.
4. Be Scrappy and Own It
Don’t look at work/life balance as simply finding a way to escape on weekends. As Peter told us, SPUD has created a “scrappy” team atmosphere in which people work hard, but have a sense of accomplishment. It might be a “really stressful week, but my team members were so cool and I was so proud of how they accomplished the goals.”
5. Feed Others (And Your Soul)
As we talk about thriving in Vancouver, one of the biggest things people can do is volunteer their time in a valuable way.
Food is the perfect vehicle to do that.
There is a wide array of organizations in Metro Vancouver dedicated to feeding the hungry – from food banks to school hot lunch programs. SPUD does its part through massive support of an organization called Vitamin Angels, which provides micronutrients to children.
Peter van Stolk is from Spud.ca (Sustainable Produce, Urban, Delivery), Be Fresh Restaurant Chain and also on the advisory board of the Vitamin Angels non-profit organization. Peter is also the founder of the Jones Soda company which disrupted the soft drink market in the 90’s