Foraging Fair Food
Why is it so hard to find a nearby restaurant or café that sources ingredients ethically and sustainably?
Paul Hellier found it can be tough to sniff out eateries that align to your ethos – so he created a social platform to rectify the problem and in doing so has developed a cross-continental audience.
Paul, a former lifeguard and long-term local council employee – who most days can be found wandering the beach at Port Kembla picking up litter – was disheartened at the steady supply of rubbish cluttering his coastline. In an attempt to help people be more aware about environmental concerns, he spent over a year working out exactly how he could influence a change.
Technology was always at the forefront of his thinking. During an overseas trip, Paul became extremly frustrated at the lack of recyclable options throughout cafés and restaurants which sparked a thought:
“If I want to find businesses that care about the environment, sustainability, and ethical sourcing, why not put together a digital platform to discover them?”
Fair Food Forager is the result, a location-based social networking app that provides information about food businesses and providers across 13 categories:
- Reduced Plastic;
- Cruelty Free/Vegan;
- Chemical Reduced/Natural/Bio-Dynamic/Organic;
- Reduced Food Waste;
- Fair Trade;
- Ethically Produced;
- Sustainable Seafood;
- Local Produce;
- Fair Work, and
- Gluten Free.
Beginning in Australia in late 2015 but quickly expanding to include the United Kingdom, United States, New Zealand and Indonesia since, the free app now lists nearly 2,000 eateries across 8 countries – showing how much of an impact can be made when information is made freely available.
Fair Food Forager has also met the strict standards to become a B-Corporation, meaning they are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment. This process goes hand-in-hand with the subject matter and made natural sense for Paul, who is passionate about how powerful small positive changes can be, in life and in business.
The Fair Food Forager team consists solely of volunteers who work during their spare time. Funding conversations are underway that may pave the way for expansion of the concept. There is clear potential for the app to keep growing exponentially as it continues to be refined and the user base multiplies. Paul is keenly aware that feedback is a big part in creating a valuable user experience for the platform – as the list of Ambassadors across the world grows to join him and his Foraging team, that feedback is helping them create a new conscious social network.
For people that are interested in how much effort a food business puts into the environment and their impact, Fair Food Forager gives them a chance to connect with like-minded souls. Users of the app are encouraged to share their favourite food experiences, and can suggest businesses for listing inside the app database. Once these suggestions have been considered, the Fair Food Forager team will do an Impact Audit of the potential addition, adding the business to the app if it meets a certain level of criteria.
Fair Food Forager has put in place an easy-to-adopt outlet where users can find compassionate food businesses in their vicinity easily, listed businesses are able to develop recognition for the environmental care and actions they take, and our wider society is able to minimise food travel distance, emissions and waste.
For Paul, whose vision is to empower people to make better choices about how they eat and their effect on the environment, it is a satisfyingly global extension of the work he has been doing around his suburb of Port Kembla for years.
Find out more info about Fair Food Forager here.
Read more stories like this about local people and businesses inside the Illawarra issue - covering restaurants, bars, producers, apps and social enterprise initiatives from the south coast region of NSW.
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