Food People, Don’t Waste This Crisis.
At Bon Harvest, part of what we’ve set out to do is to reduce the amount of food waste that we as a society spit-out. So, given that this is our first official blog post, it’s probably not too surprising then that we’re going to focus on waste.
However, the “waste” that we want to talk about in this post has nothing to do—at least directly—with food waste. As a result of the ongoing and increasingly-devastating situation stemming from the Coronavirus outbreak, many of us in the food/farming business have a lot more time away from our physical places of work…and a lot more time for self reflection.
Though many farms and restaurants remain open and working harder than ever to nourish our communities (THANK YOU to those who are), many more are completely shutting down due to the virus. To those who now have the time to do so, we at Bon Harvest strongly encourage our peers in the food industry to use this temporary slowdown in business to evaluate and improve operations. Don’t waste this crisis!
If you’re reading this post, you probably already know this, but restaurants and farms in the US are struggling, and were long before COVID19 even existed. Since 2013, over half of America’s farms have lost money, and over 10,000 of them per year go out of business permanently. For restaurants, most of them don’t even make it out of their first year (60% to be exact), and 80% are closed before they reach their fifth anniversary.
There are tons of reasons why our food businesses are hurting (environmental, governmental, the wrong location, e-coli outbreak, big corporation competition, etc.), and each individual farmer and restaurant owner has a unique story as to what specifically caused their entity to fail…
In some cases, perhaps nothing could’ve fixed the problems that lead to going out of business. However, in an effort to try and squeeze something positive out of this pandemic, why not take some time in isolation to re-evaluate how your farm or restaurant operates?
While we at Bon Harvest solve just one problem that farms and restaurants have (Inventory Management), in every food industry business, there are hundreds of areas that you can improve. If you’re a restaurant owner or chef, look into point of sale technologies (POS), rational ovens, or HR automation tools. If you’re a farmer, explore how you might be able to start taking steps to attain technology that increases transparency between you and your buyers.
All over the world, there are cool startups doing incredible work on behalf of farmers and chefs…. Like Aerobitcs, a company using drones to detect pests and diseases in crops long before the whole harvest is affected, or Cainthus, a company using digital imaging and AI technologies to detect and identify health changes and abnormalities in animal livestock, or Restaurant365, a restaurant management tool that combines restaurant modules with an integrated accounting system.
We’re not suggesting that you need to emerge from the Coronavirus pandemic with an entirely new fleet of startup technologies—we know that’s unrealistic. If you aren’t already, we’re simply encouraging you, the chef, the farmer, to use this time to think about your business as if it HAS to change—to evaluate where you’re strong, and where you can be better—and then search Google to see if solutions to your problems exist (hint: they probably do).
Luckily, a lot of AgTech companies offer a few months free (we do!), have a freemium model, or can spin-up a pilot pretty easily, so this “re-evaluation” we’re arguing for doesn’t necessarily have to cost much at all. For many, this could be an excellent time to run small scale experiments on your business, if nothing more.
As a restaurant owner or a farmer, you may never have had this much time on your hands, so definitely use it to be with your family, for long walks with the dog, to finally finish watching The Soprano’s, and to try new recipes in your kitchen….if there’s time left over, think about how you can take small steps to ensure your business—your farm or your restaurant— is stronger when the world does get back to normal.
Stay safe. Eat well.