22 Rethinking food waste. Upcycling imperfect fruits, vegetables and otherwise edible scraps into wholesome and sustainable snacks with Bruized’s Monique Chan.

Feb 22, 2022 | Circular Economy, Episodes, Reducing Plastics, Sustainability

My Kindness Calendar's Maran Stern-Kubista

Monique Chan from Bruized takes scraps destined for the compost bin and creates delicious treats. In this episode, we learn how time spent in restaurant prep kitchens led Monique to look at food waste differently. And explore the economic and environmental costs of what gets thrown away. We discover how she sources imperfect ingredients that would otherwise be discarded from local groceries and farmer’s market vendors. And upcycles these and to healthy plant-based snacks. We chat about how she feels about food insecurity and the need for systematic change. What shifts do we need to take to deal with waste, how she plans to grow her business with local hubs over distribution. And how she’s hopeful that others will join in to find innovative ways to make our food systems more sustainable.

If you want to learn more about Monique and how she’s embracing imperfect to make feel-good food for the planet and the people around us or order some of her delicious pulp crunch visit bruized.com. You can follow along with Monique on her mission to upcycle imperfect produce into wholesome eats on Instagram at @bruizedco

About the Host


I'm Jennifer Myers Chua. The Host and Producer of the Cost Of Goods Sold podcast. I'm an entrepreneur, a creative, a cookbook fanatic, mother.  I have always been interested in hearing people's stories and I've been determined to change the world for as long as I can remember.

You'll find me at home in Toronto deconstructing recipes, listening to podcasts, enjoying time with friends or wandering alone through a big city.  I'm excited to have you here. Let's do better, together.


Episode Transcript

[00:02:19] Jennifer Chua: This may or may not come as a surprise, but a lot of food is wasted worldwide each year. 17% of the food produced in 2021 was wasted globally. That’s 931 million tons. The United Nations Environment Program Food Waste Index Report 2021 suggests that the worst offenders are consumers with 61% of the waste happening at home. It’s easy to envision that. You make the Tik TOK salad. It was too much to eat. And after a couple of meals, you throw the rest in the green bin along with the broccoli stems or that forgotten spring mix in the back of the fridge. 26% comes from food service, and we’ll be talking about how all that waste comes to be in just a bit. 13% comes from retail and grocery, but there is a misconception here. You may immediately think spoiled or rotting food is all that is tossed, but plenty of it is still edible.

An article in Canadian grocer. Which I’m putting in the show notes, suggests that this waste takes a huge toll on the environment. Produce rotting in landfills releases methane of course, but wasted food also means wasted resources. Water, energy, and the greenhouse gas emissions that occur along the supply chain. From production to packaging shipping and then disposal. This article is really worth a read. It also highlights that we waste enough energy to power 274 million homes. Which personally I found a little surprising.

[00:04:36] Jennifer Chua: Healthy, delicious, and fully sustainable meals can be created upcycled from food that would otherwise go to waste. Organizations along the food chain are tackling food loss and waste or making efforts to do so, by procuring ingredients, not fit for human consumption. Or just not fit for sale. By using things like unused fruits and vegetables to create new products, innovators are finding ways along the supply chain to minimize food waste and create positive environmental impact.

Innovators like Monique Chan.

[00:05:06] Monique Chan: My name’s Monique Chan and I’m the founder of Bruized and Bruized is a women-run startup from Toronto. All about upcycling imperfect ingredients that are discarded across our supply chain and creating healthy plant-based snacks from them.

[00:05:21] Jennifer Chua: Monique studied international development and nutrition with a focus on food waste in her last year at the University of Guelph. And in that time, she had also fallen into a social circle that hosted vegan meetups and bonded over plant-based potlucks. This period of her life left her profoundly changed. And this newfound knowledge sparked inspiration to create a change in the current food industry. With her complimenting passions of plant-based cooking, sustainability and health, Monique envisioned a business and community that could highlight all of these topics and thus Bruized was born.

[00:05:55] Monique Chan: Our main product is called pulp crunch and it’s a high fibre granola cluster that is made with a base of organic juice pulp rescue from a local Juicery. And we take this juice pulp. That’s usually just thrown in a composter or ends up in a landfill and we take all those nutrients and fibre to create a really wholesome snack that’s filling but light at the same time. We sweeten it naturally with ripe bananas we get from retail stores and also feature imperfect apple chunks in our original flavour from a local farmer. And then that’s all dehydrated with oats, coconut and sunflower seeds. So it’s all. Gluten-free nut-free vegan. And it’s really filling and fueling for your day.

Before Bruized, I was mainly trying to figure out my life. I still am. I think everyone goes through that. Fresh out of university and. Finding like part-time jobs. I ended up working a lot more with food as a line cook in restaurants and, I really had a passion for food and cooking and I, I could see my future somewhere in that industry. From learning more about food waste and then seeing the, the waste in my everyday jobs, I made that connection that I wanted to create something that helped to solve this problem.

[00:07:16] Jennifer Chua: Do you remember when you first became interested in sustainability? Like, is there a moment that stands out in your mind?

[00:07:23] Monique Chan: Right when I entered University. I, I decided to take the international developments course because I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I knew I just had this inner nature to help other people. And I saw myself as an environmentalist and was interested in just caring for our earth. And then I didn’t notice that a lot of the things in my lifestyle didn’t line up with those beliefs. So. I think a key point in my life was when I was literally hauling up plastic water bottles up to my dorm room because they didn’t have like filtered water. There would always be this huge flight of stairs up to my room and I’d just haul like these huge, my dad would help me and it was just something I was so used to at home, drinking plastic water, bottles. And then a lot of my friends that I made in my first year were like super environmentalists. And they were like, like, why don’t you just get a Brita filter or something just to reduce your waste. And they would literally like try to hide my plastic water bottles. And then it was just one day that I realized I was like, yeah, that really doesn’t make sense.

And I need to let go of this ego that like, just because I’ve been doing this for, majority of my life doesn’t make it okay, or good for the environment. So I made that switch. I started eating more plant-based started with being pescatarian and eventually became vegan mid university. And yeah, after that, I just was really interested in cooking and started that plant-based journey from there. Posting more on Instagram and sharing my, my journey with other people.

[00:08:50] Jennifer Chua: Can you tell me a little bit of the story of coming up with this idea and then moving it forward into an actual business?

[00:08:56] Monique Chan: So it was actually in the course where I was studying food waste, where we had to think of a service or a business idea that helped to target food waste. And that was the main project of this semester. So as I was thinking of this, I was at the time really interested in cooking. And also working as a line cook. Why not merge those two passions together and create like a snack bar of some sort that utilizes my skill to be innovative with new ingredients, but also helps the social problem of reducing food waste. So I just kind of merged those two together. I didn’t really have any product ideas at the time.

It was literally just a vague idea that I would work on it and would pitch to my teachers at the end of the semester. over some years, like, I started actually doing recipe testing, connecting with local retailers and farmers to get to understand the problem more on an individual level. And then from there grew into what it is today.

[00:09:53] Jennifer Chua: now I spent a period of my life being a line cook as well. So I do understand kind of the relationship that you’d have with waste, but can you explain a little bit more about how that period of working in restaurant kitchens maybe influenced how you see food waste?

[00:10:11] Monique Chan: During my time working in a restaurant, main places that I saw waste being created was, mainly due to no systems being in place. So if I was working on the line and someone ordered no red onions in their meal, and I accidentally added in made a mistake and added red onions, it would be so busy that people would usually just throw that meal out. But I’d be that person just like hoarding all of the mistakes underneath the fridge and being like, oh, I’ll eat that for lunch later. Or I’m like, I’ll, I’ll bring that home. And people would be frustrated. They’d be like, who left this? burrito sitting here from like 9:00 AM. Do you know? So, uh, I saw a lot of food waste happening on the line.

And then also during just prep. I would observe a lot of employees just, I guess not being taught an efficient way of reducing waste. So I remember distinctly like this one guy would always be the guy in charge of cutting the sweet potatoes to prep sweet potato fries. And he would literally get boxes of sweet potatoes, cut around them to make them cube so they fit perfectly in the cutter and throw everything in the garbage bin. Almost half my height, full of just sweet potato sides just because it’s, it was faster doing it, that he was doing this really fast. And I was so tempted to just throw that big bag and haul it home and like make something out of it.

And it was surprising to me because this restaurant specifically, lot of the production for the sauces were done in a different facility. So every day they would pick up, drop off sauces for the day and then the truck would go back empty and they kind of already started giving the middles of onions from onion rings to the truck, so they could use it for soups and things. And I was so surprised that they didn’t implement this in other produce. So it was like the system was in place. There was just a lack of education, a lack of direction and support with reducing waste and something else I noticed too, because I was the one to make sure all the produce came in and, and check everything. I noticed how much things were costing. So a box of sweet potatoes was 40 bucks. If the guy’s cutting her off around half a sweet potato, he’s wasting $20 a box. We get around three to five boxes on average. So, four boxes and I did the calculations that came up to around $14,000 of just waste from sweet potatoes from that one location. I think when a, you make that monetary connection too, if you multiply that by how many restaurants you have, it’s quite a large amount of money being wasted, resources, energy, labor. I think all of that could have been avoided if there’s better systems in place and more education from the beginning for the employees.

So these are a lot of things that just stuck out to me. We even had a juice bar in the front, so there was a lot of opportunity to even just, bring the kale stems to the front, to put in the juice. Different things like that. I think there was just a lack of priority for those kinds of projects. That’s kind of where my frustration, but like where my drive started by just seeing something like happening and no one really doing anything about it. And then really wanting to see a change.

[00:13:29] Jennifer Chua: Are there any other experiences that shaped how you feel about natural living and environmental responsibility? Like, is there an event that shaped how you see the world this way?

[00:13:41] Monique Chan: I think it’s just an accumulation of a lot of different experiences. I think my influence is mostly from seeing other everyday people doing their best to reduce their waste. Cause I think the most powerful way we can combat these issues is to first reflect on ourselves and see what we as individuals can do.

So I was very influenced by my sustainable friends in university who were like eating plant-based and going to all these like climate event talks and plant-based events and, that it was really inspiring in itself because I got to learn more about how this has an impact and what else I can do as an individual to reduce that. So I got more interested in also trying to be more zero waste and, and how our plastic waste has an impact on the environment, uh, and where it goes at the end of the day. So how to minimize that and sharing and the creative process with other people. I loved to host dinner parties and attend parties when I was in university. And it was just a great way to challenge everyone, to make a dish and be able to share it at the end of the day over the table. I think those experiences were just really inspiring and showed me that like, you really don’t have to sacrifice anything like that to, in order to live a sustainable life.

[00:14:55] Jennifer Chua: So I’d like to chat more about what’s going on with our food what’s going on within our current food system. Like, what is it that the general public isn’t really aware of?

[00:15:04] Monique Chan: So it’s quite a tucked under the rug kind of issue. it’s also very, multi-faceted where there’s always waste at different levels of the food system so whether it be on the farms, restaurants like I described and also in grocery stores. So there’s varying levels to it. It’s very, it’s not like a one solution fits all kind of problem.

What I came to discover is that 58% of all food that is produced is either lost or wasted. And with that also comes wasted resources, water, energy, transportation, land, labor, that’s put into that food. So I kind of like to look at it as, an example, like an apple, not just being an apple, being wasted as like the product itself, but also all of the resources that are encapsulated in that apple that allowed it to reach where it was. And for it to just be thrown out at the end of its life cycle is a huge impact on our environment. When you look at all those, factors that create where it is today. So, yeah, it’s a huge problem. I think we see it more in Western countries like Canada and north America in general. And I really believe we have the resources to, to reduce this waste. And it’s just about educating people on why it’s important and how it affects them and what we can do to reduce that.

[00:16:31] Jennifer Chua: 58%. Sounds like a lot. I’m just wondering why do you think that businesses haven’t taken that next step? Like what do you think the barrier is?

[00:16:39] Monique Chan: I think it’s just the lack of education, to be honest, you know, like if you don’t know what you don’t know, like you can’t really do anything about it. And if people aren’t aware, like when I was doing those calculations for the, just the sweet potatoes alone. When people see it in a different form, like in a money value.

I think people will be more receptive to making changes in their businesses, but when they just see it as like a normal, everyday, cost of waste, um, they just think it’s normal and then it’s normalized for everyone. And no one’s really doing anything about it. So I think it all starts with, it’s just rooted in the education. Of people and, and if they don’t know why it’s a problem and how it affects their business and how it can improve their business, if they actually implement something to help reduce waste, then they’re not really going to take that action to, to fix it.

[00:17:31] Jennifer Chua: But then there’s people that come along that are upcycling food waste like yourself and, and there’s products being created like yours at Bruized. How does all of this contribute to food insecurity? Like I know that food insecurity is hugely top of mind for us. A lot of people are really struggling after the last couple of years as well. How do you think that upcyclers can help contribute to alleviating food insecurity or even the climate crisis? Like why is this so important?

[00:17:58] Monique Chan: That’s a tricky question. I, for me, personally, on a business level, I’d love for us to be at a point where we can make our products more accessible. Creating a closed-loop system of reducing food waste, but also being able to give that food back to people, and to share that with a larger audience. But I guess yeah, ways that you can help reduce food insecurity is just, you know, understanding the problem more. I know a lot of more community fridges are opening up. Our local communities it’s open to anyone who needs it. So even making donations there are grocery runs, like getting together with your friends, baking, cooking meals together and sharing it with non-profit organizations I think is definitely a way to start more locally. But yeah, food insecurity is kind of a big one to tackle and I think you really just got to start more locally. And see how you can create that ripple effect. Once you notice what the problem is in your, in your own community,

[00:18:59] Jennifer Chua: And when you begin to look into creating your products, did you find anything surprising?

[00:19:04] Monique Chan: I didn’t really think that we would have access to, uh, as much product as we, we usually get. Usually what we pick up for our supplies is only a percentage of how much is usually thrown out and wasted. So we’re doing our best as a small business, but it was definitely surprising to realize like, wow, It’s definitely more than enough to go around and there’s opportunity for other businesses to take part in using upcycled ingredients and for this to become more of a mainstream supply of ingredients. And something else I noticed too, was just. Also, I mean, it was kind of expected, but not having consistency of certain ingredients and, and being very flexible in how I created products to ensure that we could have them on a consistent basis and not be short on any products.

[00:19:57] Jennifer Chua: And these relationships that you have with grocery and Juicery that are giving you these less than perfect or by-product really. How did that relationship start? Like did you just go into the grocery store and asked to speak to the manager? And I’m just wondering how you managed to get these other businesses on board.

[00:20:16] Monique Chan: It was pretty much like, cold calling and also I think what was more effective for us was actually going into stores and being. Where’s your manager. Like, I want to discuss some things because a lot of people don’t reply to their emails and. I think it was most effective to just talk to people in person and, and show them what we do as a business and what we’re passionate about and how they can be a part of that. lot of businesses, if w if we just make it easy for them, say we’ll pick up everything, we’ll just message you when we’re picking it up, we’ll provide the, buckets or like whatever resources or materials you need. As long as we made it easy for them. willing to do it. And especially if it was something that was just going to be wasted, like, retail stores that had ripe bananas, a lot of the times they just don’t have time to, or any use for those.

They would end up on discount racks. And if it was a large amount, like it usually wouldn’t sell, it would end up being thrown out. So we kind of help them move a lot of their products. So they would have more space to bring in a new produce and supply. So it was like a win-win like they get to, I guess, move product. We pay a discounted price for it as well. It’s just a, it’s a good exchange and they know that they’re helping to reduce their own food waste. So I guess it’s also a personal win for them.

[00:21:34] Jennifer Chua: Something that’s just occurred to me is I follow some of those dumpster diver people on Tik TOK. I don’t know if you’ve seen those. Have you seen these videos?

[00:21:42] Monique Chan: No, I haven’t, I have dumpster-dived in my, in my lifetime. So I do know what it’ll look like.

[00:21:48] Jennifer Chua: Particularly the ones I’m following based in large urban centers. And I think New York city is one of them and they’re going to, think of a really large grocery store and they’re going in the back and they’re finding all of these perfectly good foods that are maybe close to their sell by date, but not expired by any means. Do you have any comments about those kind of systems? Like the sell by dates, the expiry dates. How can we create change there?

[00:22:17] Monique Chan: That’s definitely a tricky one because I know it is, you know, I’m sure there’s a lot of regulations with who food expiry dates and what you’re allowed to say, and it’s just a liability issue. So it is tricky. I think. What we can do on our part is just to educate people that when it says best before, that’s not necessarily like the day it’s going to go all moldy or, or go bad, I think it’s to teach people how to use their senses and use their own judgment to be like, okay, like it says best before this day, but you know, I opened it on this day and like kind of getting an understanding. Smelling it, I think is the first step. And it’s just using your best judgment and not. Kind of using that specific data as a guideline of what to throw out and what not to throw out. I don’t know if there’s a lot we can do about the regulations around necessarily best before dates and expiring dates. Especially if it’s something that’s like yogurt or something that’s cultured.

In terms of dry goods or like crackers or anything like that really. Just use your own judgment, smell it. And if it smells fine, most of the time it’s usually okay. And our bodies are very resilient, so it’ll take a lot to really do some damage. So I think, yeah, just use your best judgment. And, and I think that’s where we can start.

[00:23:35] Jennifer Chua: Are there any other choices that you’ve made with Bruized in order to make sure that your goods are good for the planet as well?

[00:23:41] Monique Chan: One thing specifically that we do is we try to source as locally as possible before we were kind of. When we first started, we were trying to just, source things from big grocery stores because they had so much waste that we actually saw. But then, after, being more in the farmer’s market space, we realized why not use this as an avenue to also support our local farmers, our own community, and like make it a food full circle on a small scale and be able to first target the problems on our local lands versus tackling like these mass production facilities that are imported from the USA.

That’s also an issue, but I think we want to focus more on just being local to start with also just coordinating our pickups to be at farmer’s market. So we vend at farmer’s markets mostly and, For that to be a pickup spot helps to reduce our carbon emissions. Also it’s just easier to communicate with farmers at the farmer’s market because a lot of them are very busy and don’t reply.

So just being able to coordinate with them in person is the best way. And, we also started using, Glass jars when we first started, just so it could be a way to reduce plastic waste. Now we also introduced like a bulk version of our product that we sell at the farmer’s markets. So it’s completely zero waste option. People can bring their containers in, we, we tar them and then just fill up how much they want of our pulp crunch. Even our cookie. I love when customers just bring their own container. Take out containers. It doesn’t have to be fancy like stainless steel ones and they just pick up our products and it’s like complete zero waste transaction. Those are the small things that we try to do too, as a small business to just reduce our waste. Hopefully as we grow, we can, we can make more impact in terms of how much waste we’re reducing in other aspects of our business.

[00:25:32] Jennifer Chua: So when you did start the business, what was your big dream in those days?

[00:25:36] Monique Chan: My dream was to just, I guess, have something that really resonated with other people and, and created impact in other people and something that was unconventional and not seen on the market. So another reason aside from reducing food waste, Why I started Bruized was because I was very interested in natural food and eating healthy and finding food that fuels.

And a lot of times I would browse, especially the granola section. And most of them would look healthy, like have all this beautiful, eco- packaging. And when you look at the ingredients which is like number one thing you should do when you pick up any product, because at the end of the day, ingredients don’t lie. You would just see a lot of these products are filled with cheap ingredients, fillers, sugars, oils, and nothing really that is fueling for your body. So I really wanted to first start off by making a granola that I could eat every day and feel good after eating it. That’s where I came up with pulp crunch because I also was into juicing.

I had all this juice pulp leftover and I was like, wow, this is a great like base full of fiber. There’s so many nutrients still intact in that fiber. Why not use it instead of throwing it out? So I think that’s another reason that drove my passion for starting Bruized. Create products that were unconventional, helping to tackle food waste, but also tasted good at the end of the day. And weren’t just the gluten-free option or the vegan option, but was the good option. Genuinely people liked and we’ve gotten so much good feedback. Sometimes people don’t even realize that it’s vegan or gluten-free and they usually just surprised or let alone made with stuff that would have just been composted.

That was my big dream and I think we’ve reached a point where we, we have reached, I see the vision, you know, playing out and I still see a bigger future where Bruized can grow nationally, even internationally and start growing its own little hubs locally. That’s another way for us to be more sustainable too, is just keeping Bruized as not a one location, distribution kind of center where we shipped from Toronto all the way to Vancouver. But starting our own Bruized community in Vancouver, in Montreal. And making it more of a local collaboration and collective where people can get together, learn more about food waste. We share good food and have more discussion on how we can make a difference. That’s my big dream. And I’m putting it out there into the universe right now.

[00:28:07] Jennifer Chua: So, what was the first thing that you were proud of though? Like, what is the first thing you were proud of in this business and why did it fill your heart so much that you made change?

[00:28:17] Monique Chan: I don’t know if it was just one thing, but I guess it was just the general response that we got when we first started selling at farmers markets. I think a lot of business owners can relate to this, but having that first sale is like, it kind of just doing your happy dance behind the table and they’re like leaving. I think that just gave a lot of validation that like, yeah, people like this product and they’re willing to pay money for it and support it. I think a lot of that was rooted from us giving out our product very generously, we always were all about sampling because it’s a new industry, a new product, something that they haven’t seen on the shelves before.

We were very generous with always giving samples, always talking about the product and how it benefited our planet and your, your health. And, I think at the end of the day, we also want the product to speak for itself. So we were very generous with samples. And I think to see that response from people and support over the years, has been so fulfilling and that’s truly what brings joy to me in my everyday work.

[00:29:18] Jennifer Chua: and building this business and where you’ve gotten so far, has anything just been like, I can’t believe this worked out this way.

[00:29:26] Monique Chan: Yeah, I guess, I think a lot of times, I haven’t really put a lot of action. I’m going to be honest and to seeking out press or any sort of media coverage, I’ve just been focused on like the everyday grind and any podcasts that we’ve been on or any like interview or grant that we’ve been featured in. Or panel. Literally everyone has just reached out to, to us. And I was just so shocked at how people found us and how they were interested in what we were doing. Even just being here. I was like, wow, this is amazing. Like, people want to know more about what we’re doing and want to be a part of it. And I think that’s, that was the craziest thing to me. I was like, wow, I really don’t even need someone to do PR for me, I’m literally just getting all the emails myself. So yeah, that was a huge shock for me. I’m always happy to, to be a part of other people’s own journeys and storytelling and sharing what we do at Bruized.

[00:30:22] Jennifer Chua: Have there been any moments though that you felt like maybe the odds were stacked against you?

[00:30:26] Monique Chan: I guess usually on like my stuck days where I’m trying to figure out things and, you know, being a small business and doing the roles that I’m usually not that great at. There have been those days and at the end of the day, it’s about taking it all in, not, not valuing the wins more than the lows and like just continuing to move and just going . I think at the end of the day, whatever problem it is, like it’s temporary, we’re going to find a solution and that’s usually how I get through it. We’re going to work it out. We already got here so far, so, nothing’s can really stop us so.

[00:31:08] Jennifer Chua: So if you’ve inspired someone to start their own food waste, upcycling business, is there a common reason that they might give up or walk away?

[00:31:17] Monique Chan: Yeah, I mean, thinking about when we first started, the main barrier for me was just finding consistent supply of things, because this is a very new idea where there isn’t much demand for imperfect ingredients or byproducts that weren’t even seen as ingredients like juice pulp. A lot of people it’s like creating your own system. So I had to really build my own way of sourcing things. And it was really difficult just to find a consistent supplier of ingredients that we used and to also build products around that. It’s very easy to just. order whatever you want. If you already have a product that you’ve developed. But for our business plan, it’s kind of the opposite where we want to help reduce food waste, and we want to actually make an impact.

So understanding how food waste plays a part in different organizations. So using byproducts that are usually discarded specific to those companies is what our business is surrounded by. So. It’s hard when it’s something that you’ve created yourself. And that could be a huge barrier that is discouraging. But I would just recommend keep going. Usually how all new things start. There’s always going to be that friction in the beginning and something that I found helpful to overcome that is just to always have a backup plan. We have like a very long list of suppliers. So you know, that we always can rely on getting the ingrediants that we need, the volumes that we need, because we have different resources and people to source it from. So yeah, I think that could be a huge barrier, but it’s not impossible we’re doing it and you can do it too.

[00:33:00] Jennifer Chua: So how can we avoid food waste? Maybe not in our business, but maybe at home, is there anything that I should be mindful of when I’m looking towards those vegetables that are in the back of my fridge.

[00:33:10] Monique Chan: The first thing I always tell anyone who’s trying to reduce waste at home is to just first. Look inside your garbage or your compost or whatever your waste disposal unit is at home. Take a look at that because that is literally a mirror of what you need to work on. Right? So if you see, like different scraps in the compost, carrot ends, onion, skins, kale stems, maybe looking up different ways to reuse those ingredients.

So whether that be making a, my go-to is just a big pot of veggie stock, you freeze those ingredients anytime you’re prepping your meals. Put them in a bag in a freezer and then just keep filling it up until it’s full. And once it’s full, you take one day to make a big pot of stock. You strain it and then you can make soup, you can freeze the stock to use for future meals. And it’s just a great way to get those extra last bit of nutrients from that produce that you’re paying for. Another way that I like to reduce waste is also to make Grocery lists before I go to the grocery store. I’m trying to improve on that.

I’m not perfect. Sometimes I forget, and I go a little crazy with buying things, but I think that having that structure before you buy your food too, is very helpful. So you don’t buy things unnecessarily or buy things in large amounts. A lot of times I think people have excess because they think they’re getting a deal by buying that big mega family pack when their a family of one or two. And after that, going by the expiry date, they end up throwing away half of it. So they’re not actually saving that money. So I think being aware of like the marketing tricks that are out there and, and realizing that buying what you need and doing more runs to the grocery store is probably better than buying everything in a larger amount. And then letting it sit in your fridge, uh, until it’s gone bad until you forget about it. Buying what you need and, and using it and getting innovative with how you use those ingredients is your first step for anyone just trying to reduce waste at home.

[00:35:15] Jennifer Chua: And what about the future? How do you think what you’re doing now is impacting us or the people around you? How hopeful are you for the future?

[00:35:25] Monique Chan: I’m a very hopeful person. I really do believe like we are early to this type of market for imperfect ingredients. And. I want people to just jump on this and to realize that, oh, if we’re doing it as a small business, there’s so much potential that this can be incorporated into every business on a different level. I really believe like the future holds just the idea of renewing and, and reducing waste because we’re already low on resources even with COVID there’s been food shortages, global warming, climate change. A lot of this is affecting our food supply and we need to just be more mindful of how we’re using the food that’s already being produced versus trying to find ways to create more food, to supply the growing population.

I think the future is going to be all about renewing what we have, finding more sustainable ways to go about, our systems, especially within food. And I hope to be the company that is the leading example for that. And I’d love to be able to connect with other businesses that are interested too, and be able to share anything I can offer to help support them in that transition.

I think we can’t do this alone and real really need to start building our relationships with the people around us and together we each have something to offer and we can put together a solution to help tackle these huge global issues. So it’s all started in ourselves, but also in the collective and collaborative minds of our community.

[00:37:02] Jennifer Chua: Are there any other ways that you affect social change with this business?

[00:37:06] Monique Chan: We are a women of color business and we want to try to be as inclusive as possible as we grow. So, you know, being able to hire more marginalized people to join our team. And also once we were at the stage to be able to donate to more organizations that are making an impact Socially. So we can be able to play a part as a business as we grow and, to support other . Organizations that are . Doing good for that.

I think for our business too, what we hope to offer in a few years is just to be able to expand our line of products. And to also, like I mentioned, be more accessible and where we offer our products so that more people can take part in our mission to reduce food waste and also get that inspiration of why food waste is important and what they can do to help alleviate that. Stay tuned for another upgrade to our range of products and what we can offer to our committee.

We’re in the process of just sorting out the business and having a little restart, just with COVID that really just. What we want to focus on is really just growing our business, making our production more efficient, being able to grow our team. So it’s literally not just two women running this, but having other people that are passionate about food waste to join us. and partake in that. What we’re just focused on is how can we scale this idea and how can we make it also accessible to people?

[00:38:34] Jennifer Chua: If you want to learn more about Monique and how she’s embracing imperfect to make feel good food for the planet and the people around us or order some of her delicious pulp crunch visit bruized.com bruised with a Z. You can follow along with Monique on her mission to upcycle imperfect produce into wholesome eats on Instagram at @ bruizedco

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