Behind the Plate


November 20, 2015

Sustainable America‘s Executive Director Jeremy Kranowitz is all about a more sustainable and resilient food system. How does he suggest we achieve this? Through attainable behavioral changes, such as #NoFoodWaste, one of Sustainable America’s focuses. Intrigued? Meet Jeremy tonight at Foodstand and Dig Inn’s #NoFoodWaste November Happy Hour! Mingle with fellow Foodstanders and listen to presentations by Jeremy, Matt Preston, and others about limiting food waste. Dig Inn will be offering two-for-one drinks and samplers of their new menu. Be sure to RSVP, and download the Foodstand iPhone app for 50% off ticket prices! In the meantime, let’s get to know Jeremy!

For those just getting to know you, how would you describe your organization?
Sustainable America is an environmental non-profit focused on making our nation’s food and transportation systems more efficient and resilient. We conduct education campaigns and on-the-ground efforts to show how to be more sustainable. And we find innovative start-up companies, and invest equity in a handful each year who have products that will improve our food and fuel systems.

If you could get the general population to change one eating habit, what would it be?
Starting the meal with too much on our plates.

What are some of the principles that guide Sustainable America?
We are focused on helping improve food and fuel systems in this country because improvements to those systems help all Americans, especially those lower on the economic ladder. Our efforts are made to reduce our nation’s oil consumption by 50% and increase food availability by 50% in the next two decades. We believe in the power of the marketplace to innovate and find solutions.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Sustainable America is a unique non-profit, combining education with investment, and I think it’s a vanguard of non-profits that will be successful with new and innovative ways of funding their efforts. I love going to work every day trying to get this effort off the ground. I’m pouring my heart and soul into it.

What is your biggest challenge in relation to your organization?
Sustainable America is a brand new environmental non-profit, working to distinguish itself among a sea of other NGOs. We need to break through the noise, and be seen as thoughtful leaders on the subject, and at the same time find ways to appeal to outside donors to keep after our important goal.

When did you first become personally aware that food waste is a big deal?
I grew up with a “clean plate club” house. I remember reading the Grapes of Wrath in high school and thinking about the circumstances that led to those outcomes and being outraged. But it really wasn’t until I started running Sustainable America that I dove deep into the facts around wasted food and realized what a crazy juxtaposition it is to have all this food waste next to all those who go hungry every day. It’s crazy, and such a big deal for us to focus on solving.

Who is one famous person, dead or alive, that you want to share a meal with? and where?
I think it would be really interesting to be in the kitchen during the creative process of creating a meal with a well trained chef. I’m a fan of José Andrés, the Spanish chef who introduced Washington, DC to tapas and mezze, and would love to eat with him at one of his restaurants.

How are you putting #NoFoodWaste principles into practice and/or raising public awareness about food waste?
Our website I Value Food is a great place to share stories about wasted food and how to reduce it. We’re also blasting information to our tens of thousands of followers through Sustainable America.

Food issues have not quite made it into the upcoming Presidential Debate. If you could ask the future President to consider a food issue that needs to be addressed, what would it be?
We should change food subsidies to encourage healthy, nutritious calories and by taxing cheap calories. It has been said that obesity is the face of hunger because cheap calories are high in sugar, salt, and fat. We should still make those calories available to those that want them, but they should be harder to obtain and more expensive to buy than fresh vegetables, fruits, and grains.

What was/is your food inspiration? Tell us why.
There’s something so magical about a tomato you grow in your own garden and the amazing sensory information that it provides, including that explosion of flavor when you bite into it just after it has been picked. All of those sunny days are packed into that bright red tomato, and it bursts forth with that first bite.

If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
I have had a few opportunities to teach during my career—as a swim coach during the summers in college, and courses on mediation and negotiation to high school and college students at a science school. I love presenting a concept and watching the light turn on in a student’s eyes, and find it one of the most rewarding things in life. I’d love to teach.

What’s always in your fridge?
I always have hummus in the fridge, because it’s delicious and reminds me of the Mediterranean. Sunshine in every bite.

Your good food wish?
That every party or celebration with extra food at the end of the evening finds a good home for it—either by donating the excess to the hungry, or returning unsafe scraps to the soil to grow more food in the future.

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