Behind The B With Local Food Movement Challenger 100Km Foods
After being certified as a B Corp we’re more excited than ever to dive into B Corp Month this March. From sharing B Corps you should know about to raising awareness about the impact and necessity of B Corps, we have a range of content drops and social initiatives lined up.
In the first of our B Corp spotlights, Grace Mandarano, co-owner, co-founder, and CFO of 100km Foods talks about being a B Corp leader, the notion of eating local, and the seasonal food worth getting excited about.
What eating ‘local’ means to Canadians today.
When Mandarano started 100km Foods back in 2008, she talks about how diners weren’t as aware of the implications their food choices had on the planet or their health, let alone who grew it. Now, she notes how people are making more thoughtful choices and are asking more questions.
“Throughout the years, the motivation behind wanting to know where food comes from has evolved from solely health reasons, or wanting to support farmers, to a fuller understanding of the role that they themselves play in creating demand for better farming practices, better care for the planet, better care for the workers on farms, and better government support for better support systems,” Mandarano says.
She continues to share that while the pandemic has only highlighted how broken our food systems are, “in some ways people are now armed with that additional insight that will continue to move the needle towards more responsible consumption.”
The “secret sauce” that makes 100km Foods a B Corp leader.
Since its launch, 100km Foods has won an impressive six ‘Best For The World’ B Corps awards. For Mandarano, it comes down to the drive in being part of the solution rather than a response to consumer demand to do better, and ensuring your mission is woven into the fabric of your business.
“That puts you head and shoulders above companies who try to incorporate social or environmental targets into a business that wasn’t focused on a triple bottom line to begin with,” she says. “The things we do as a company that earn us the B Corp Best for the World awards every year are tied to the very reason we started our own business.”
The people that make 100km Foods so special
“We have a dream team,” Mandarano says. “Everyone from sales and marketing to purchasing to our accounting team is smart, creative, and passionate about our mission.”
When Mandarano and owner, founder, and CEO Paul Sawtell started the business, she says it was to provide the opportunity to be proud of their work. Their employees share in that benefit too.
“While our engine room is definitely chalk full of people who are dedicated, hardworking, and incredibly talented, it doesn’t stop there,” Mandarano continues.
“We have exceptional people who drive our trucks, who pack our customers’ orders, and they bring a high level of ownership to their jobs and drive continuous improvements as well. We really do run as a single organism, so interdepartmental communication and cooperation are essential to the success of the whole.”
Advising others looking to enter the B Corp community
When Mandarano first heard about B Corps in 2013, she recalls how they were “thrilled there was a certifying body that would recognize, celebrate, and promote companies that were actually doing the hard work of building more responsible models of capitalism.”
For those looking to become part of the community themselves, Mandarano encourages “anyone who is starting a business as a force for positive change to become certified. It’s a wonderful network of businesses and entrepreneurs who understand each other and are driving towards the same goals together, which is very inspiring.”
Restaurants leading the way when creating local-inspired dishes
“I am always in awe of the magic that happens in restaurant kitchens, and the creativity and talent of the chefs we work with,” says Mandarano. “What really stands out to me now, 14 years into the business, is how diverse the type of establishments who purchase local foods are, compared to when we first started.”
Where the restaurants 100km Foods would serve in the early days tended to be fine dining, white tablecloth establishments, and industry leading names who understood the value of procuring local ingredients, today that’s translated to small cafes, food trucks, schools, professional sports team training facilities, and more.
“The impressive dishes are too many to list, but the creativity and dedication that chefs have demonstrated to champion local ingredients in all those different types of businesses is so impressive.”
The seasonal foods to get excited about
“Everything tastes exceptional when it’s harvested ripe, but strawberries, asparagus, tomatoes, blueberries, and peaches stand out as “taste of the season” stuff,” Mandarano shares.
“In terms of those impossible to find items, like zucchini flowers, wild leeks stand out as a product that screams spring, and unless you’ve pickled some you won’t taste them until the following season. My personal favourites are snap peas and Delicata squash, both of which taste like candy to me.”
March is B Corp month! Be sure to check back to the blog regularly to read the other content we’ll be publishing about the innovative B Corps we’re supporting.