Why Climate-Wise Food Makers Need You

December 13, 2019

From wildfires and droughts to floods, the Bay Area is facing unprecedented impacts from climate change. But as you know, sustainable food holds some of the most powerful solutions to heal our communities and the planet. When you support CUESA, you are backing farmers and food makers who are advancing climate solutions from the ground up.

This month, we’re featuring change makers in our community who are creating a fair and regenerative food future. Today, meet Kayla Abe and David Murphy, who launched Ugly Pickle Co. —a small company with big ambitions—at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market earlier this year. Their goal is to fight climate change by transforming food that would normally go to waste, as food waste is the source of 11% of global greenhouse gas emissions. They do this by making delicious pickles and dips, all while supporting climate-wise, organic farmers.

David and Kayla could not have launched their business without the support of CUESA community members like you. They shared what your support means to them as they grow their business, while taking a bite out of climate change.

Our entire education around food waste started at the farmers market. The market is both an educational community and a social community for us. We also met at the farmers market and both have long histories here, so it is a very personal place for us.

Coming from backgrounds in food and restaurants, we saw first-hand the amount of produce farmers threw away at the end of the market day because they weren’t able to sell it. Learning about something as monumental as food waste in an abstract way really distances you from the roots of the issue. But learning about food waste through the eyes of the farmers, we now have this personal drive to support them and educate the community about the issue as well.

Together, we had the idea to make something delicious with that leftover, cosmetically-challenged produce while giving back to local farmers, which is how Ugly Pickle Co. came about. We were empowered to act on that dream to create a sustainable food business that tackles the big issue of waste because of the community we have here at the farmers market. 

CUESA provided a pivotal first step in launching our business. We felt an almost immediate acceptance by the food community. The market was a key way to trial our products, get feedback, and understand what resonates with people in this very complicated and messy issue of food waste. Being at the market on Saturdays has been a stepping stone into more opportunities to make this a viable business.

We found that there’s a gap in who is regularly shopping at the farmers market and the average millennial, who is just trying to get healthy nourishment as quickly and cheaply as possible. We’ve been trying to bridge the gap, merging our deep love of the farming community with the priorities of young people today—meeting them where they’re at in their eating habits.

Food waste and climate change are heavy subjects, but they’re necessary for our survival and the survival of our planet, which is why we also try to make the topic fun and delicious. With Ugly Pickle, we’ve been able to support our local farmers, and give shoppers an easy choice in making a personal step towards reversing climate change. 

Developing our company at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market gave us legitimacy at a time when we were entirely new to the maker community. For us, it truly is a special place. It’s a privilege to be able to work directly with farmers every single week, farmers like Curtis from Lucero Organic Farms, Simba from Capay Organic, and Dave from Heirloom Organic Gardens. It has also been valuable being surrounded by other makers and learning from their knowledge and experiences. It really feels like everybody’s in it together, supporting one another.

The farmers market is the best education you can get in the food world. There are so many avenues you can take to learn—from the farmers themselves and through the education offered by CUESA. CUESA is a community hub for all things food. It’s a classroom that pops up three times a week. It’s a small business incubator. It allows sustainable farming and small businesses like ours to be viable in so many ways.

There’s so much that each of us can do, on an individual level, to fight food waste. We’re trying to be a first step in people’s sustainable food journey and inspire them to make connections at the farmers market, so they’ll be more curious about how they can take those personal strides. Hopefully, we can create this critical mass where we’re able to positively influence the direction of our changing climate together.

When you give to CUESA, you are supporting artisans and creators in our community, who are actively working toward a more hopeful climate future. Make a tax-deductible donation today.

Topics: , ,