Local business provides seasonal prepared meals that are not only organic and vegan, but also supports a variety of local farms.
Celeste Lopreiato came from an agricultural background and continued working on farms throughout her undergraduate degree. Celeste studied environmental governance at the University of Guelph and has always been interested in issues within the food system. She became enticed by the idea of starting her own food-related business but was not sure how to go about doing it. Celeste started off making homecooked meals for a friend when she discovered that this was something she could do full-time. Celeste decided to start The Conscious Kitchen in 2019 to help people eat local food in an easy and accessible way. She participated in Innovation Guelph’s women-led program, Rhyze Ventures, last year which helped her with marketing and branding her business. During the pandemic, this support was crucial to help promote her meals and offerings, as well as establishing local connections to partners. Celeste’s mentor assisted her in establishing partnerships with three local farms in Guelph-Wellington to utilize their excess produce. The Conscious Kitchen worked with Cedar Down Farm, Hoppy Field Farms, and Spiral Farm during last year’s growing season and is looking forward to continuing those relationships in the upcoming season. Cedar Down Farm has planned to grow a variety of produce for Celeste this year, further allowing her to have continuous fresh foods.
Collaborating and supporting other local businesses and products are essential aspects of The Conscious Kitchen. In support of this, Celeste’s project for the Seeding Our Food Future (SOFF) program is finding opportunities to use the surplus of produce at the end of the week. Celeste has been looking for new ways to either incorporate this produce into future meals or creating new products. Throughout SOFF, Celeste has been experimenting in turning excess produce into sauces and spreads as well as making vegetable broths and preserves. The Conscious Kitchen offers entirely plant-based and vegan prepared meals to their customers, and that is why it is key that Celeste maintains strong relationships with local farmers. From April to November, The Conscious Kitchen provides meals that are almost 100% from local farms. Celeste cooks meals that are seasonal, local, nutritious, and environmentally friendly to help support the local economy. She strives to source all produce from organic and eco-friendly farms to ensure that her meals are also organic. Celeste is passionate about helping her customers eat healthier and become more environmentally conscious.
For Celeste, circularity is about more than just reducing waste, it is about focusing on getting the most use out of every item. She also applies that vision to the products around her and in her business. By using the surplus of products at the end of the week and turning them into items that can be stored, Celeste is maximizing the lifecycle of each product she uses. The Conscious Kitchen is focused on supporting the local food economy by collaborating with a variety of partners across the region.