They say, ‘a healthy body leads to a healthy mind’. With changing work environments, rapidly shifting priorities and busy schedules, nutrition, nourishment and healthy lifestyle have truly increased in value. The astonishing progress in the world of entrepreneurship also brings more discussions around healthier lifestyle, mindfulness, and mental health to the forefront. Entrepreneurship is difficult, and so, it is important that founders, innovators and professionals make informed food choices, develop healthful eating and physical activity habits.
March is National Nutrition Month, and this year’s theme is ‘Fuel for the Future’, which focuses on fueling bodies with nutritious food while being sustainable with our choices. Addressing the issue of sustainability, living a wholesome life, and reducing food waste, we’re celebrating this National Nutrition Month through conversations and amplification of the works of two innovators who live and breathe this vision.
Kim Parker, CEO and C0-Founder of Food Security Structures Canada; and William Wang, Co-CEO and Co-Founder of Terra Optima Labs, and Founder of Zentein Nutrition, a delicious and nutritious snack to support mental and physical performance, are local green economy tech entrepreneurs who truly believe in providing access to fresh, nutritious, and affordable food to help people live better. Recognized for their work at TechAlliance’s Limitless 2023 as People’s Choice Award recipient and Forthcomer Award finalist respectively, their products aim to curb world hunger, decrease food waste and promote sustainable methods of living. In our recent conversation with them, we had a chance to understand more about their products, how they inculcate sustainable practices in their businesses and their thoughts on celebrating this month.
Taking a new approach to indoor growing, Food Security Structures Canada empowers people with the right technology to help them grow high quality, fresh produce throughout the year, independent of the climate, time of the year or quality of land. Through various product offerings such as an Agrotunnel structures, grow walls, Better Grow Lights and more, this innovative venture is designed for scalability to suit the needs of the community, so that people can grow the most amount of food with the greatest crop diversity, using minimal resources. Leading with the goal that food is the basic and highest priority of needs for survival, Kim’s vision for FSSC is to tackle world hunger to help people be their best versions, “We believe that every person, and every community, has the right to access fresh, nutritious, delicious food, and growing it locally all year round supports that fundamental right.”
Focused on creating growing systems that are environmentally sustainable, FSSC uses various eco-friendly practices in their business operations to ensure that not only people, but also our planet is taken care of. “All of our products are focused on being part of a synergistic system where every component contributes to the overall sustainability of the farm,” shares Kim. Using an anaerobic biodigestor to sustainable process bio-waste, enabling low wattage and minimal power requirements in their growing systems, consuming low levels of water to grow plants and minimizing carbon footprint by feeding communities through hyperlocal farms, Parker and her team ensure that their activities and products meaningfully address United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Looking at this month and what nutrition with sustainability means, Parker shares her thoughts with the readers and encourages everyone to support local producers and grow their own food, “By taking time to connect with our food and the people who grow it, we’re able to have a closer and more enjoyable relationship with our food, and by investing our grocery dollars with our local farms, we support our neighbors and build a strong, sustainable agriculture economy. Health and sustainability start with mindful relationships – with each other, with our businesses, and with our planet.”
This green and clean tech venture is making gardening and growing plants more accessible to the horticulturally hopeless. Leveraging the power of soil, Terra Optima Labs encourages people to grow their own food by supporting them with sustainable technologies and systems that can transform waste streams into beneficial agri-food products. Producing a type of soil booster and natural plant food, their flagship product, Vermichar, is made of a mix of red wiggler worm castings and biochar which when added to the soil, helps in retaining water, contains natural plant growth hormones, and has slow-release organic nutrients to decrease the effort in taking care of all types of plants. All of this not only leads to a healthier growing environment for plants and food crops, but also results in higher yields, “In one of our projects with the London Food Bank, we were able to increase their outdoor tomato harvest by 146% which means that a larger percentage of one’s diet can come from grown-at-home foods, where you can control the inputs you use to grow (ie. no pesticides) and have the freshest produce possible,” shares Wang. Exploring different possibilities and uses of their products, the team at Terra Optima Labs is currently building capacity for fresh produce and specialty functional mushrooms with the aim of making them available for the community at large.
Deploying a circular mindset in their production process, Terra Optima Labs incorporates sustainability by building an ecosystem within their facility that uses the waste generated in producing one product into the creation of another product. Additionally, by deriving their products from waste sources like food waste, wood waste, and agricultural waste, these innovators are benefitting our society by extracting the value from this waste and developing resourceful products.
Sharing his thoughts on National Nutrition Month, Wang places importance on the long-term effects of our current choices and urges everyone to make consistently sustainable decisions, “We see things day by day but it’s harder to see in decades and realize the potential effects that our current lifestyles could have on us thirty years in the future. If we want to see real change, any decision we make needs to be sustainable and viable. After all, we did not degrade a third of our planet’s soil or create the beauties and intricacies of human civilization overnight.”
As we celebrate National Nutrition Month this year, let us all prioritize living a wholesome, balanced and healthy lifestyle while making sustainable choices every step of the way to take care of our planet while taking care of ourselves.