Ben Friedman is an entrepreneur working to promote sustainably sourced foods. He will be speaking at the Seattle Food Tank Summit, “Growing Food Policy,” which will be held in partnership with the Environmental Working Group, Food Action, Garden-Raised Bounty, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and Seattle University’s Center for Environmental Justice and Sustainability on March 17, 2018.
Ben is the co-founder and Co-CEO of Homegrown Sustainable Sandwiches, a slow-food, fast-casual restaurant brand with stores in Seattle and the Bay Area. As a 2016 Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree, Ben’s professional passions include the slow food movement, social enterprise, fast casual restaurants, retail real estate development, and consumer products and brand development. Friedman is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Seattle hub and spends his free time partnering with nature conservation organizations and mentoring social entrepreneurs.
Food Tank spoke with Ben about his work to promote sustainable foods using a business approach:
Food Tank (FT): What originally inspired you to get involved in your work?
Ben Friedman (BF): I wanted to make an effort to use a business model to solve important environmental problems.
FT: How are you helping to build a better food system?
BF: All of our stores use sustainably sourced ingredients. Each store we build increases a neighborhood’s access to sustainable food. Furthermore, by buying sustainably grown food, we support those farms, overall, increasing the supply of sustainably grown food.
FT: What’s the most pressing issue in food and agriculture that you’d like to see solved?
BF: Soil erosion is a crucial issue.
FT: What innovations in food and agriculture are you most excited about?
BF: I’m excited about new developments in plant-based meat substitute products.
FT: What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?
BF: Eat more plants, they are better for you and the environment.
FT: How can we make food policy more relevant to eaters so that the politicians representing them feel a mandate to act?
BF: We need to make food system issues part of the climate change conversation and reduce the fragmentation in the national conversation on the environment. Climate change and food policy are tightly connected, but we must work to demonstrate this connection to eaters
FT: What policy areas or ideas would you like to see an increased focus on as the 2018 Farm Bill negotiations kick off?
BF: I would like to see a Farm Bill that provides financial support and develops educational programs about agricultural practices to reduce soil erosion.