I’m a restaurateur; my business partners are American family farmers. I am an optimist, and I believe we can substantially improve the food system.
Business leaders must shift from a singular stakeholder view of maximizing profit, to a multi-stakeholder view where the planet, the community, workers, and natural resources are valued in the decision-making process. Capitalism isn’t the problem; it is simply deficient when administered with profit as the only stakeholder. We need profit, we need capitalism, we need to do Capitalism, Consciously.
Restaurants can make an impact right now.
We can put invasive species like Chesapeake Bay Blue Catfish on our menus; we can eliminate plastic straws and all sorts of single-use petroleum-based plastics and support manufacturing innovators like NewLight Technologies; we can vote to support anti-trust enforcement in agriculture and food processing; we can name, shame, and create financial downsides for polluters, poisoners, and destroyers; we can reward and incent sustainable practices.
We can also acknowledge where we are part of the problem.
The status quo feels safe, but it is going be the death of us, as we eat microplastics, contribute to climate change, while decimating farmers’ abilities to grow food.
Those who run restaurants with a Conscious Capitalism approach will end up creating more value in the long-run. As this becomes evident, board room leaders will be forced to change because a singular devotion to profit will be a path to corporate failure.
Together, we can shatter the status quo and do better.
This is the short speech I gave for Food Tank’s interactive dialogue, “Towards A Global Food System that Supports People and Planet,” hosted to collect perspectives as input for the United Nations Sustainable Food Summit. Food Tank President, Dani Nierenberg, convened mission-driven players to share our challenges, opportunities, and visions for the future as part of their United Nations Food Systems Summit 2021. As the world comprehends the significant role our current food system has played in the planetary crisis, food companies around the world are quickly taking steps – some big strides, some early motions – to take responsibility and reduce the impact of their supply chains. But unlike big food, some mission-driven companies were conceived with the very goal of designing a new food system that’s built for planetary and human health.