Food for the Soul

An interesting thing happened last week.

Innovation Guelph held the finals for the Rhyze Ventures first cohort pitch competition. Nine exceptional and diverse women-led businesses pitched at the end of an eight-month marathon program that included education, mentoring and project work.

Each of the finalists (and the whole cohort for that matter) was deserving of recognition – they are all doing amazing things! The nine finalists who advanced after the first-round of competition came from a wide variety of sectors, including medtech, social innovation, furniture re-manufacture, sensor technology, professional services, etc.

The interesting part is this: all three winners selected by a largely tech-focused panel of judges were food related!

  • In the small business category, a small-town bakery that sources locally, won.
  • In the social enterprise category, the winner was a chef who blends mental health for youth with cooking classes.
  • In the scalable business category, a young woman focused on creating delicious, plant-based food (starting with an exceptional cream cheese!) took the prize.

Of these three winners, one is also a participant in Seeding Our Food Future, with a focus on making her business more sustainable and contributing to a circular food economy.

What do all these business owners have in common? They are all supporting the communities they live in with food for the body – and food for the soul – by tying impact and sustainability into everything they create.

It seems to me that these results reflect the times and circumstances we find ourselves in today. People are responding to businesses and initiatives that consider their impact on people and planet as they seek prosperity. At the same time, food will always be crucial to everyone’s physical and mental well-being.

That’s why the food system is such a great place to start our search for circularity. Together we can move toward a more sustainable food system, reducing waste, repurposing by-products, and squeezing value out of every step along the way.

Photo by Ella Olsson from Pexels