For Bareburger, sustainability is and always has been a part of their brand identity. The food starts with the farms – they use organic produce from sustainable farmers, and one-third of their menu is vegetarian and/or plant-based. Bareburger remains committed to ethical meat production, while also providing plant-based meat alternatives. Their sustainability does not extend only to their food, but also to their packaging. Opting to avoid less eco-friendly packaging alternatives such as styrofoam containers and instead choosing to use packaging made of recycled material such as paper or carton; they have made their cups, bags and containers significantly more eco-friendly than they might otherwise be. At the helm of this prioritization of sustainable practices is CEO, Euripides Pelekanos. He recognized the importance and need for a sustainable, local, organic, socially conscious restaurant that also provided customers with a comfortable, non-pretentious environment.
When the opening of Jordan Johnson’s first restaurant, Naked Farmer, was put on pause, they remained focused on their mission and didn't change. At the onset of COVID-19, they pivoted the company to launch a digital farmer's market when communities needed it most –delivering food from farm-to-door. Naked Farmer is 100% locally sourced, a collaborative process between their chefs and local farmers in St. Petersburg. When it comes to packaging, they also keep it as naked as possible- containers are compostable or made from natural, sustainably produced, recyclable materials. They use their buying power as leverage to support sustainable growing practices. Johnson has fully committed Naked Farmer to be a zero-waste zone, serving nose-to-tail meats and stem-to-leaf veggies. Johnson's Naked Farmer is fully connecting farmers and community, and doing so with a prioritization on sustainability.
This year Sweetgreen made the massive step of committing to being carbon neutral by 2027, which is a measure that has been preceded by years of commitment to sustainable practices. Since the company's inception, Sweetgreen has shed major light on the environmental impacts of the fast-food industry, and the ways they’re combating these issues. This includes transparency about their supply chain, local sourcing, scratch cooking, conscious waste management, animal welfare, and sustainable store design. All of these issues being addressed are the ones so often overlooked in the traditional “fast food” industry. And leading the charge behind these initiatives are their Co-founders, Jonathan Neman, Nicolas Jammet and Nathaniel Ru. Sweetgreen continues to lead the way, and be the industry standard, with so many chains following suit. With their newest commitment to reduce their carbon by 50%, we hope this remains the case.
A Beyond Burger uses 99% less water, 93% less land, 46% less energy, and generates 90% fewer Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHGE) than a beef burger. Just that fact alone, you can see why Ethan Brown, the CEO and Founder of Beyond Meat is on this list. Brown began his career with a focus on clean energy and the environment, serving as an energy analyst for the National Governors’ Center for Best Practices. Brown also created and opened a center for fuel reformation and has held several industry positions, including Vice Chairman of the Board at The National Hydrogen Association and Secretary of the United States Fuel Cell Council. He is a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute and, along with Beyond Meat, is the recipient of the United Nation’s highest environmental accolade, Champion of the Earth (2018). Brown holds an MBA from Columbia University, an MPP with a focus on the Environment from the University of Maryland. His career has been rooted in the study of and advancement of environmentalist causes and now with Beyond Meat, Brown is permanently impacting the ways the food industry can create change, and find alternative solutions.
Bryant Terry is a leading sustainable chef, who effectively communicated the interconnected nature of poverty, Black culture, and the need to create sustainable local food sources in urban communities. An advocate for food justice, the vegan chef aims to show more people that eating vegetable-based meals is simple, affordable and delicious, while also advocating for people to create a more equitable and sustainable food system. The James Beard/NAACP Image Award-winning author celebrates recipes that are inspired by traditional soul food, that are entirely vegan. He also brings awareness to the history of sustainable food systems and justice within the history of Black activism and communities. Since 2015, he has been the Chef-in-Residence at the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) in San Francisco where he creates public programming at the intersection of food, farming, health, activism, art, culture, and the African Diaspora. In regard to his work, Terry's mentor Alice Waters says, “Bryant Terry knows that good food should be an everyday right and not a privilege.”
As Head of Sustainability for Chipotle Mexican Grill, Caitlin is responsible for creating and implementing the company’s sustainability vision and strategy in more than 2,500 restaurants worldwide. From waste reduction to energy management, to water stewardship, Caitlin works to minimize Chipotle’s impact as a company and plays a key role in developing new practices. She also serves as Executive Director of the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation. With Leibert at the helm, Chipotle has made major strides and a strong commitment to sustainable practices over the last 10 years. This includes the launch of Real Foodprint, a transparent way to see how the sourcing standards across each of their 53 ingredients, impacts the environment. Each ingredient in every recipe at Chipotle is measured against five sustainability areas, reduced carbon emissions, organic land supported, water saved, antibiotics avoided, and improved soil health. This level of transparency and innovation is what makes Leibert’s efforts so impressive, and Chipotle an industry leader.
Founders, Saqib Keval, Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik and Jocelyn Jackson created The People’s Kitchen Collective, a non-profit community organization, based in Oakland, CA that shares the contrasting foodways of its three founders, while bringing the larger community together through dinners, workshops, and an annual free breakfast program. The free breakfast is inspired by the meals served to the Black community by the Black Panthers and happens yearly at a park named for Bobby Hutton, a 17-year-old Black Panther recruit, who died on April 6, 1968, after he was shot more than 10 times by police. Oakland residents gather by the hundreds to pay their respects and enjoy the meal. These communities have been affected by colonialism and gentrification, which leads to the lack of food availability in their area. Meanwhile, 40% of food in America is wasted. PKC isn’t just interested in bringing people together over delicious meals, though nourishing people—and movements—is at the center of their work. They also believe their role is to take an unflinching look at the difficult stories that food tells.
At 15, Viveka Hulyalkar started an environmental nonprofit organization in Cleveland, Ohio. As part of her desire to make a change in her community, she worked with the Cleveland Cavaliers and ultimately drove $1M of solar panels to be installed in local schools. It was then she realized how deeply she valued brands that cared about causes she believed in, and how so many other customers feel this impact as well. Recognizing that there was a discrepancy in communication between retail brands making a positive social impact, and consumers seeking more values-aligned options, she launched Beam with her co-founder, Alex Salvatore, in November of 2017. In 2020 they provided over 6,000 meals to underserved communities, and funded enough to purchase and protect 69 acres of the Amazon with the Rainforest Trust, preventing 120 tons of CO2 emissions from entering the atmosphere, Viveka has truly transferred her own personal experience as a consumer, and changemaker in her community, to create an incredible platform that allows companies and consumers to create impactful and sustainable change.
Chef Dan Barber has amassed a massive following by revolutionizing how we think of sustainable eating in America. The co-owner and executive chef of Blue Hill in Manhattan and Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, New York has been the recipient of several James Beard Awards including Best Chef in 2006 and the country’s Outstanding Chef in 2009. He was chosen by President Obama to be part of the Council on Physical Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, he has been a regular contributor to the op-ed section of the New York Times, and he was even named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2009. Barber’s entire culinary philosophy is based on a farm-to-table system. For Barber true sustainability is about more than just deciding to cook with local ingredients, but It’s about cuisine that’s evolved out of what the land is telling you it wants to grow. His best-selling book “The Third Plate” highlights how chefs have an opportunity to use their cooking to shape culture and to inspire a new ethic of eating.
Sam Kass, a food entrepreneur, former White House Chef, and Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition. During his White House tenure, Kass took on several additional roles including Executive Director of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign and senior White House Policy Advisor for Nutrition. Currently, he is the founder of Trove, which was founded on a belief that the convergence between our personal health and that of the planet is real. The consulting company is helping organizations and companies achieve their sustainability and health goals. Kass puts the emphasis on the industry to make these changes themselves, in order to save our planet. In May 2016, Kass became a partner in the newly launched venture capital fund Acre Venture Partners, a $125 million fund designed to inspire "collaborative disruption" with projects that focus on "transparency, health, and sustainability" in the global "food system". Kass is making strides from multiple different avenues within the industry to move it towards a more sustainable future.


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