We all have good intentions. But with an issue as important as sustainability, you also need a plan. Our approach to sustainability at Bi-Rite is simple, but touches every part of our operations. And while there’s always more to do, we find that articulating our intentions keeps us aligned and making forward progress. So we thought we’d share our plan here, in case it helps spark your own. After all, good ideas are the greatest renewable resource.
Consider the Source
Buying directly from farmers and producers has always been a hallmark of Bi-Rite, because we believe local food systems are the most sustainable and delicious way for us all to live. The relationships we cultivate with producers allow us to purchase the freshest food at the peak of flavor, while allowing them the financial stability to plan ahead, maintain their responsible growing and fair labor standards, and take risks on new offerings. When you’re shopping for your table, consider the source. Ask questions. And buy local! It benefits everyone.
In our business, leftovers or less than “perfect” produce are inevitable. Instead of letting it go to waste, we think ahead. The Creamery’s famous Balsamic Strawberry and Roasted Banana ice cream flavors were developed specifically to make use of those perfectly sweet but bruised strawberries and bananas. Butchers’ trimmings and bruised potatoes become a hearty stew; broken cookies become sundae toppings…you get the idea. At home, planning multiple dishes using the same ingredients helps limit waste, and might just make for a fun culinary challenge.
Share the Flavors
Sharing food connects us to each other, to flavor, to the farmer, and to the land it came from. So when that watermelon is on its last days of perfection, we share it with you. Sampling foods at peak deliciousness is one of our favorite way to honor sustainability, because we love feeding others and making connections between the delicious bite and the passionate person behind it.
What we don’t sell or share, we donate. We’re proud to provide produce, bread, grocery staples, and prepared foods to several San Francisco nonprofits who feed our neighbors in need. Ruth Selby, Food Service Assistant Manager at St. Anthony’s, says, “Every day we offer thousands of the most vulnerable among us the basics we all need to feel human: a hot meal, fresh clothing, and an opportunity to connect with others. Thanks to our partners like Bi-Rite, the food we serve conveys dignity, respect, and community.”
While donating your personal leftovers might not be realistic, perhaps donating your time to feed others is. St. Anthony’s is always looking for volunteers to serve nourishing meals in their Dining Room: stanthonysf.org/volunteer.
Of course there’s more to sustainability than food waste. Small changes to energy and water use can add up to big impact; switching to LEDs saves Bi-Rite an estimated 64,000 kilowatt hours each year. But other aspects of sustainability can be more challenging — and even offer confusing, conflicting information. For us, that’s plastic use. Our industry uses more than it should and we’re currently working on solutions and alternatives.
As a household, your food and ecological footprint is smaller than ours, but your impact doesn’t have to be. By living, shopping, and eating your values, you’re helping create a sustainable, local food system and community for us all. And for that we thank you.
Sarah Holt is the director of marketing and community at the Bi-Rite Family of Businesses.
Edible San Francisco relies on the support from advertising partners like Bi-Rite Family of Businesses who share our vision and want to see the Bay Area’s local food community grow and flourish.