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Unwasted: The Podcast
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Unwasted: The Podcast

Author: Imperfect Foods

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Newsflash — We have a waste problem in this country.

Want proof? In the United States, about 40% of our food supply goes to waste. And that’s just food.

We know it's easy to get overwhelmed by how wasteful we are in modern America. Maybe what's missing is some hope, some inspiration, and a helpful way to get started on the path to a more sustainable lifestyle.

Welcome to Unwasted — a podcast all about inspiring everyone to live less wasteful, more meaningful lives.

Each week, we hear the powerful stories of people on a mission to end our addiction to waste. We’ll have conversations full of food-for-thought, fun facts, and actionable tips, tricks, and recipes that you can try at home.

Because while we all may not see eye to eye on everything, the one thing we can agree on, is that we only have one life, one planet, and it would be a shame to waste any of it.

So join us, every week, on Unwasted with Imperfect.

59 Episodes
We’ve all had the experience of buying that apple, or avocado, and having it go bad before you can eat it. It’s so widespread that there are memes about it now. Have you ever wondered what exactly makes food go bad and what we can do to slow this process down? The folks at Apeel Sciences took this real conundrum of how to make our favorite foods last longer and answered it with a game changing new product. Apeel is an innovative, plant-based coating that goes on your favorite fruits & veggies to keep them fresh for longer, which means less wasted food, less stress about squandering money on avocados you never get to eat, and more delicious meals! To learn more about how this works and what it means for the future of food waste, we chatted with Jessica Vieira, head of sustainability at Apeel. We discussed all things ripeness and food waste and explored how Apeel is making it easier than ever to waste less food on the farm, at the store, and in your home. Episode Show Notes:Learn more about Apeel on their website and Instagram.To see where you can buy produce with Apeel, head here! Jess outlined that the key factors that make fruit go bad are water loss and oxidation. This article from Wired does a great job explaining how Apeel works to keep produce fresh for longer. Jess shared that one of the first farmers to benefit from Apeel was growing finger limes, a fruit as quirky and fascinating as it sounds. Jess shared that food waste accounts for 8% of Greenhouse gas emissions globallyJess's go-to karaoke song is "I Want You Back" by the Jackson 5To learn more about Jess and her background, connect with her on LinkedIn
When it comes to making farming truly sustainable in the long run, the elephant in the room is land ownership. Healthy soil matters, but so does who owns the soil.  Did you know that there were nearly 1 million Black farmers in 1920 and fewer than 45 thousand today? Overall Black landowners own only 0.8 percent of land in the US today. What accounts for this huge racial disparity in land ownership? We’ve brought in agricultural law expert and farmer advocate Jillian Hishaw to help teach all of us some important legal lessons that shape everything about who farms in the US. Episode Show Notes:Learn more about Jillian by heading to her website. You can also get in touch with her by emailing info@jillianhishaw.comFollow Jillian on Instagram, Facebook, and TwitterYou can pre-order Jillian's book, "Systematic Land Theft" here. You can get Jillian's other book, "Don't Bet the Farm on Medicaid" here. For a full breakdown of who is farming in the United States, check out the most recent USDA Census.Jillian's go-to Karaoke song is "This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)" by Natalie Cole. 
Did you know that over 20 billion pounds of textiles are thrown away in the United States every year? Just like the food industry, the clothing industry creates a shocking and honestly overwhelming amount of waste. So what can we do about it? After getting frustrated with how much fabric he saw going to waste in the fashion industry, Daniel Silverstein quit his job and started his own company, Zero Waste Daniel, focused on turning fabric scraps into stylish new clothes. For every piece of clothing they make, they recover about a pound of fabric scraps from going to waste. He stopped by our podcast to teach us how he's working to make the fashion industry less wasteful. Episode Show Notes:Learn more about Zero Waste Daniel and where you can buy their clothes on their website and be sure to follow them on Instagram. Daniel was the third podcast guest to recommend the documentary "The True Cost," which takes a necessary but sobering look at the dark side of the fashion industry. Daniel's go-to karaoke song is "No Scrubs" by TLC. 
Does environmentalism have a racism problem? Is veganism elitist? Why do so many young environmental activists suffer from burnout? These are some of the thorny but important issues that Isaias Hernandez fearlessly tackles everyday. He is an educator and speaker who’s passionate about environmental justice, veganism, and zero-waste.Our conversation was thought-provoking and packed with insights about our food system, environmentalism, plant-based diets, and more! Episode Show Notes:Learn more about Isaias and his work by heading to his website, connecting with him on LinkedIn, and checking out his Instagram (@queerbrownvegan). Isaias shared his love of vegan conchas, a traditional Mexican dessert. Isaias's go-to karaoke song is anything by Kali Uchi. 
Plant-based eating is here to stay.Most of us have heard about the health benefits and the environmental benefits of going plant based thanks to documentaries like “The Game Changers” and “What the Health.” While eating plant-based sounds great on paper, a lot of us wonder how you can possibly replace the unique taste of dairy products like butter and cheese. So, is dairy really the final frontier for plant-based eating? Miyoko Schinner thinks it is. Miyoko is the founder of Miyoko’s Creamery, a company that makes incredibly delicious vegan, plant-based cheeses and butters. In this episode, she's sharing her journey as a plant-based entrepreneur, dishing out advice for how to eat more plants, and more! This is a conversation that vegetarians, vegans, and omnivores alike will get something out of. Episode Show Notes:Learn more about Miyoko's Creamery on their website and Instagram. Check out Miyoko's books: "Artisanal Vegan Cheese," "The Homemade Vegan Pantry," and "The Vegan Meat Cookbook." If you're feeling plant-curious, Miyoko recommends trying the Veganuary challenge. We discussed the fact that 80% of antibiotics sold in the US are for animal agriculture. Miyoko recommends watching the Vegan 2020 documentary on Youtube. Miyoko also has a fun cooking show called "Miyoko's Home Comforts." Learn more about Miyoko's animal rescue, Rancho Compasion. 
Nothing makes you feel quite as warm, fuzzy, and cozy as eating some of  your comfort foods from childhood. What is it about these meals that is so magical? How can they bring us meaning and connection even across oceans and decades? Hawa Hassan has spent her life exploring the magical power of family memories and recipes. She turned this experience into a marvellous cookbook called “In Bibi's Kitchen: The Recipes and Stories of Grandmothers from the Eight African Countries that Touch the Indian Ocean.” In it, she shares the recipes of 8 African grandmothers and writes a moving and delicious love letter to African food that’s also a thought-provoking testament to the universal power of family recipes. We're chatting food, family, spices, and more with Hawa! Episode Show Notes:Learn more about Hawa on her Instagram and be sure to check out her amazing cookbook.Our photo of Hawa comes from photographer Khadija M. Farah. Hawa also has an incredible line of hot sauces called Basbaass. Some of Hawa's go-to spices to have you your pantry to make Somali food are: cardamon, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, and black pepper. Hawa is also a big fan of Xawaash, a Yemeni spice blend that Hawa often calls the "Garam Masala of Somali cuisine." Learn how to make Hawa's Suugo Suqaar, a delicious Somali take on pasta sauce. Hawa's go-to karaoke song is "Man! I Feel Like A Woman!" by Shania Twain. 
We’ve all heard the phrase, health is wealth. We know that how we eat is one of the biggest things that determines how healthy we are, but it seems like eating healthy is such a moving target sometimes. There’s new studies, trends, and diets coming out every week and it can be genuinely hard to separate fact from hype and misconception when it comes to the seemingly simple act of feeding ourselves. Why is it so hard to figure out what to eat? Brooklynne Palmer is a medical student with a passion for sharing sound, nutritional advice that helps all of us invest in our physical and mental health. In this conversation we dive into answering the million dollar question: What does healthy eating look like and how we can make it easier to do? We also discuss why we should all be skeptical dietary headlines, the key difference between a dietician and a nutritionist, and how fad diets focus too much on weight and not enough on health. Episode Show Notes:Learn more about Brooklynne by checking out her Instagram page. Brooklynne stressed that we all ought to take nutritional studies with a grain of salt, since many of them are funded by food industry groups that would like us to eat more of their foods. She also cited the now famous incident of a scientist trolling the media and public by publishing a bogus study that chocolate was healthy just to prove how gullible and biased towards catchy diet headlines the media had become. Contrary to popular belief, most Americans are eating more than enough protein. Brooklynne's principles of a healthy diet: eat less high-sodium processed food and eat more high fiber foods and fresh fruits and vegetables. 
When it comes to sustainability, the holy grail a lot of people dream about is growing your own food. What better way to eliminate food miles, cut out the pesticides, and become self sufficient, right? However, as anyone who has ever tried gardening can attest, it’s pretty intimidating at the start. Knowing what to plant, when to plant, and how to get started requires a lot of research. Once you get going you realize that it’s not as simple as just putting something in the ground and waiting. Slugs eat your precious lettuce, birds and squirrels descend on your beloved berries, leaves turn yellow for some reason, and you’re never sure if you’re watering things too often or not enough. That's why we couldn't wait to sit down with Kevin Espiritu of Epic Gardening. He's built a thriving Youtube channel, podcast, and Instagram aimed at getting 10 million people to learn how to grow their own food. In this conversation, he's sharing some garden tested wisdom we can all benefit from.Show Notes: Learn more about Kevin by checking out Epic Gardening's website, Youtube channel, and Instagram. Kevin also has an excellent book all about gardening: The Field Guide to Urban Gardening. If you enjoy Kevin's take on gardening, be sure to listen to his podcast. Kevin has put out too many excellent videos on common gardening questions to list here, but some of our favorites are his guide to common watering mistakes and 5 veggies you can grow in under a month. To better understand your soil, Kevin recommends getting in touch with your local extension office to arrange a soil test. Kevin's must-have gardening gear: A good pair of pruning shears, a pair of micro-tip shears, a Japanese hoe, a garden apron, and a garden cart to hold your favorite tools. Understand the facts and fiction of regrowing plants from common vegetable scraps. Kevin highly recommends the book "Six Seasons" by Joshua McFadden. Kevin's go-to karaoke song is "Drops of Jupiter" by Train. 
What is wellness and who is it for? Outside of the colorful healthy smoothies and Lululemon branded yoga classes we see on our Instagram feeds, what does wellness really mean in 2020? Maryam Ajayi has a lot to teach us about the wellness world and its blind spots when it comes to racial diversity and inclusion. She argues that the world and industry of wellness has a long way to go until it prioritizes the health and wellness of all people. In this candid conversation she shares her personal journey from Republican lobbyist to wellness practitioner. She also outlines her vision of a more equitable and healthy world, and shares how we can get there, one breath at a time. Show Notes: Learn more about Maryam Ajayi on her website and Instagram, as well as her organization Dive in Well. Maryam's go-to comfort meal for loved ones is a roast chicken. Maryam's go-to karaoke song is "Kiss By a Rose" by Seal 
Real Food Real Stories is an organization on a mission to humanize our food system, one story at a time. We sat down with their founder and director to learn how they're using storytelling to make food more just and sustainable in the long run.Episode Show Notes:Learn more about Real Food Real Stories on their website and Instagram and be sure to check out their Curious Eater podcast. Jovida and Pei Ru are fans of Diaspora Co spices and Eatwell Farm. We discussed our mutual admiration of Nik Sharma, who we also had the pleasure to interview on another podcast. "How We Show Up" by Mia Birdsong is a must-read book about the power of community and recognizing our interdependence. Pavlova is a delicious dessert and a favorite of Jovidas. Pei-Ru loves singing "Morning Sun" by Melody Gardot with her son. 
Close your eyes and imagine you’re eating at  a fine-dining restaurant for a special occasion. What cuisine are they cooking? French? Italian? Spanish? New American?Why not Ghanaian, Nigerian, or Ethiopian food? Which cuisines do we choose to elevate and which do we sideline or leave out of the conversation entirely? Today’s guest is Kess Eshun, a Ghanaian chef and pastry chef who makes a living creating magical meals that weave together her memories of growing up in Ghana with her culinary journey here in America. She’s here to take us on a delicious and informative journey that all food lovers will get something out of. Episode Show Notes:Learn more about Kess on her website and Instagram. She also has an app! For an extra flaky pie crust, Kess recommends freezing your butter and then grating it. She also recommends using vodka in your pie crust for en even better texture. One of Kess's favorite Ghanaian dishes is Red Red, a dish of stewed black-eyed peas in palm oil. Learn how to make Kess's Jollof Rice in this fun video! If you're looking for a game-changing African ingredient to have around, Niter Kibbeh (Ethiopian spiced ghee) is incredibly flavorful and easy to make at home. Kess's go-to karaoke song is anything by Whitney Houston. "I Will Always Love You" always gives us chills. 
We all love chocolate, but what do we actually know about where our chocolate comes from and how it’s made? The fact is that 70% of the world's chocolate is grown in West Africa, in an industry that currently employs more than 2 million child laborers. How did chocolate and child labor become so intertwined and what would a more ethical chocolate industry look like? We sat down with the chief chocolate evangelist from Tony’s Chocolonely, Ynzo Van Zanten, to find out. Episode Show Notes:Learn more about Tony's Chocolonely on their website. You can join the fight for a more ethical chocolate industry by signing this petition. To better understand the dark side of the chocolate industry, Ynzo recommended watching the chocolate episode of the Netflix Series "Rotten." Check out the trailer for season 2 here. As a reference, 60% of the world's chocolate supply comes from Ghana and the Ivory Coast, much of which is currently grown using child labor. Read their most recent Annual Report to learn about the impact on the chocolate industry. Ynzo's go-to karaoke song is "Islands in the Stream" by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers. 
Everyone knows that farming is hard work, but a lot of us still fantasize about quitting our 9-5 and starting a small farm somewhere. So how hard is it to start farming, really? According to the USDA, only 1 out of 2 small farms survive beyond their first five years, and out of those, only 1 out of 4 survive after 15 years. Why is it so hard to make a living by growing food? To separate faring fact from farming fiction, we sat down with Noelle Fogg Elibol of Kitchen Table Advisors, a nonprofit dedicated to making agriculture a more viable business model for small farmers. In this fascinating conversation she share lessons about how we can to make farming a sustainable way of life for generations to come. Episode Show Notes:Learn more about Kitchen Table Advisors and check out their Instagram to stay up to date on their work. The USDA defines a small farm as any farm with gross income under $250,000 per year.It's important to note that according to the USDA, "while most U.S. farms are small – 91 percent according to the Census of Agriculture – large farms ($250,000 and above) account for 85 percent of the market value of agricultural production. Noelle is proud to have worked with Javier Zamora of JSM OrganicsIf you want to get in the weeds of agriculture, there's no better place than the most recent US agriculture census, conducted in 2017. The Heal Food Alliance does important work to build a food system that is healthy, accessible, and affordable for everyone. Noelle recommended reading "The Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan, "Eating Animals" by Jonathan Safran Foer, and "The Fate of Food" by Amanda Little to better understand our food system. Noelle also recommended watching the documentary Food Inc. 
It's safe to say the world is pretty obsessed with food blogs and Instagram pages these days. Have you ever wondered: "who runs these pages and how do they end up making amazingly beautiful food and recipes for a living?" Meet Hetal! After burning out on her career in health care, she ended up as a contestant on season 6 of Master Chef, which launched her into the world of food media. Since then, she has published a cookbook of Indian-Inspired desserts that’s been featured in the New York Times, and runs a truly delightful blog, Instagram, and online bakery called Milk and Cardamom that’s well-worth a follow. In our thought-provoking conversation dig into: What it's actually like to be on a food competition show and how shows heavily edit, manipulate and type cast their contestantsWhy Indian cuisine often gets misunderstood or oversimplified in the United StatesThe most fun and most overlooked parts of what it's like to run a food blog and Instagram as part of your businessWhat principles, ingredients, and gear Hetal recommends for all home bakers How Indian desserts differ from European dessertsWhat she's learned as mother about the importance of writing down recipes and getting children involved in cooking Whether you're already a fan of Hetal's or just a curious cook looking to learn more about baking, spices, Indian cuisine, reality TV, and food history, this discussion will satiate your appetite. Episode Show Notes:You can learn more about Hetal, see her recipes, order her cookbook, sign up for a cooking class, and even order her desserts on her website. Hetal helpfully clarified that most Indian food you can find in the United States is Mughal-influenced. The Mughal empire controlled India for 300 years and left a strong mark on the cuisine. Some of Hetal's favorite Gujarati Indian restaurants in the US are Ghee in Miami, Tailor in Nashville, and Besharam in San Francisco. Indian desserts use a lot of cardamom, which Hetal dubs "the Indian vanilla" because of how common it is in sweets. She also noted that ghee is used as a key baking fat, along with toasted flour and nuts for their distinct flavors. One of Hetal's signature dessert recipes is Gulab Jamun, which she's also reinterpreted as a miniature bundt cake. Hetal recommends always using a scale to weigh out ingredients while baking. Other go-to baking gear for her is her stand mixer, and infrared thermometer.  For parents worried about picky eaters, Hetal's top tips are to get your child involved in the cooking process. She's also a huge fan of the Daniel Tiger PBS program for kids. Hetal's waste fighting tip is to save your onion and garlic skins and make a rich and aromatic stock that you can then freeze in silicone ice cube trays! Hetal's go-to karaoke song is "Rumor Has It," by Adele 
The United Nations Environmental Program recently estimated that "for every square mile of ocean" there are about "46,000 pieces of plastic."Many of us have seen the truly sobering videos and photos of the Pacific garbage patch, which is twice the size of Texas. To help us understand the thorny problem that is plastic pollution in our oceans, we're chatting with Mimi Ausland, a passionate activist and founder of Free the Ocean, an organization dedicated to getting plastics out of our oceans. Episode Show Notes:Learn more about Free the Ocean on their website and Instagram.The Free Rice project's click-to-give model was an inspiration for Mimi in starting Free the Oceans. Mimi works closely with Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii to remove plastic from the ocean. Need another reason to care about ocean health? The majority of our planets oxygen comes from marine plants! Mimi is a fan of compost tumblers We discussed this fascinating story of how Bay Area green waste becomes valuable compost for farms and wineries. Mimi's go-to karaoke song is "Love Story" by Taylor Swift. 
What should the future of agriculture look like? What if instead of focusing on growing food to feed our cities, we pivoted to growing food within our cities? This seemingly revolutionary concept is the inspiration behind a growing number of urban farms across the country. To learn more about the power and possibilities presented by growing food in a modern American city, we sat down with Yemi Amu, founder of Oko Farms in Brooklyn. In our thought-provoking conversation we cover: Why aquaponics is such a revolutionary, yet surprisingly ancient, way to grow food. How urban farms like Oko help increase food security, mitigate climate change, increase biodiversity, and even reduce stormwater runoff. Why Yemi uses the term "food swamp" instead of "food desert." What's stopping urban farming from making the jump from a niche concept to a truly viable way of feeding more communities in America. Get ready to dive into the weeds of sustainable farming and urban gardening, quite literally! Episode Show Notes:You can learn more about Yemi's work at the Oko Farm website and Instagram. Some other notable urban farmers that came up in our conversation include Will Allen of Growing Power and Leah Penniman of Soul Fire Farm. Yemi recommends reading "Microbia: A journey into the unseen world around you" by Eugenia Bone. Yemi is an fan of Yute, and underrated vegetable. Yemi's go-to karaoke song is Pretty Young Thing by the one and only Michael Jackson. 
What's it like to be a Black food entrepreneur in 2020? To understand this better, we're joined by a true culinary Renaissance woman of the Twin Cities. Lachelle Cunningham runs a catering business in Minneapolis, runs culinary education at the Good Acre, and is an advocate for food as a tool for economic development and better health. In this conversation we cover: How Lachelle's work helps her clients overcome racial trauma and realize their dreams. What many people misunderstand about working in the restaurant industry. How home cooks can waste less food and become less reliant on recipes by thinking like a caterer. This episode touches on a tapestry of fascinating topics at the intersection of food, entrepreneurship, race, history, and more! Episode Show Notes:Learn more about chef Lachelle on her website. In addition to running her own catering company, Lachelle is proud to be an educator at The Good Acre in Minneapolis. Lachelle referenced Black Wall St, an important, but often tragically forgotten community and incident in the history of Oklahoma and the United States. Lachelle is a big fan of cleaning out your fridge as a way to help prevent food waste and make cooking easier. Here's a guide to help you get started. Lachelle's go-to karaoke song is anything by Erykah Badu, especially "Tyrone." 
Is our country's obsession with health actually making us healthier?Even before COVID-19 hit, health and wellness in modern America was big business, and a growing feature of our social media feeds. However, is our society focused on the right aspects of health or are we viewing it in a healthy way? This week we're getting a refreshingly holistic take on the world of health. Dr. Tiffany Lester is here to shed some light on this complex and often misunderstood field, including: Why it's a mistake to see healthcare as a debate between traditional medicine and functional medicine, and how they really can help inform each other. Why properly managing sleep and stress needs to be a bigger focus for most Americans. What all the fuss about gut health is really about and why we all should nourish our microbiome. Why it can be risky to take trendy supplements like Ashwagandha, magnesium, or fish oil without understanding them properly first. In a year defined by one of the biggest health crises of the modern era, this episode has eye-opening perspectives and practical advice for all of us to live healthier, happier lives. Episode Show Notes:Learn more about Tiffany on her Instagram page and her home base on Parsley Health. Season 2 of the podcast The Dream is all about the wellness industry. TIffany recommended using Google Scholar and PubMed for legitimate health and nutrition studies. Tiffany says that higher-priced fish oils are often higher quality. Tiffany's go-to karaoke song is anything by Whitney Houston. 
How can growing food heal us and ground us in a world that seems to have gone crazy? After the devastating trauma of her father murdering her mother while she was in school, Amber Tamm lost herself, and then found herself, in the world of farming. Today she's a floral designer, horticulturist, and farmer in New York City focused on nourishing a better food system, one plant at a time. In this fearless conversation she shares: Why so many modern farming practices persist despite not being environmentally or economically sustainable. What working on farms taught Amber about the prevalence of racism and sexual assault in agriculture. Why Black farmers are often left out of the narrative of farming in America. What changes she seeds as necessary to improve our food system for better and for always. If you're looking to understand agriculture, race, or American history in a new way, this episode has a lot to offer you. Episode Show Notes:Amber's headshot is by Safiyah Chiniere. Check out her Instagram here. Learn more about Amber Tamm on her Instagram page and her website. There were nearly 1 million Black farmers in 2020 but there are just 45,000 today. Black farmers won 1.25 billion dollars in the Pigford racial discrimination lawsuit against the USDA. We discussed the book "Farming While Black" by Leah Penniman of Soul Fire Farm. Amber admires Indian scholar and food sovereignty activist Vandana Shiva. Amber recommends learning more about the story of activist Assata Shakur.
Have you ever wondered why hunger in America is such a persistent problem, despite all of the volunteer hours, money, and yes, food, that nonprofits throw at it every year? If so, this episode will drop some much-needed knowledge on you. Robert Egger is a nonprofit icon, speaker, and activist who founded DC Central Kitchen as well as LA Kitchen. He has won a Humanitarian Award from the James Beard Foundation, been named one of LA Weekly’s People of the Year, as well as an Oprah angel, and one of the ten most caring people in America by the Caring Institute. In this candid, passionate, and far-ranging conversation we cover his decades-long career in the food nonprofit space. We discuss why charities so often fail to make lasting change and how we can finally break out of band-aid solutions to poverty and hunger and create real and lasting positive changes that help everyone. A Note From Imperfect: As a friendly heads up, this episode contains a fair amount of profanity, so be advised if that's not your thing or you're listening with young children. Episode Show Notes:Learn more about Robert Egger on his website and his more current and NSFW home base Check out his book, "Begging For Change." Robert referenced the classic James Brown song "I don't want nobody to give me nothing." Even though the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act actually encourages businesses to donate food, many businesses still worry they'll be liable if someone gets sick after eating donated food. Robert is a huge fan of José Andrés and his work with World Central Kitchen.Robert admires Paula Daniels, co-founder, and chair of Good Food Purchasing. Robert's go-to karaoke song is "Wild Thing" by the Troggs. 
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