Innovator Story: Better Food cafés – more than just an organic cuppa
Our Catering Operations Manager Lewis has been with Better Food since 2017, having worked his way up from chef. Here, he expresses his passion for organic food and explains how working for an ethical company is raising awareness of the importance of environmental sustainability.
The first Better Food café opened in 2006 in our flagship St Werburghs store – now we have three.
So what are your biggest catering challenges at Better Food?
Trying to change the perceptions of organic food. We need to do a better job at explaining why organic matters and what it is you’re paying for. The Soil Association are doing a great job at a national level, but we all can do our bit to spread the word to customers, friends and family. We’re still a hidden gem. Many people don’t know we exist.
Healthy food is important to us, and so is making sure it’s easy to eat here if you’re vegan or vegetarian, or following a gluten free or dairy free diet.
What are the highlights of your job – why do you love what you do?
I love being able to produce something and sharing it with others. Cooking is an art that allows you to be creative … and when you cook from the heart people can tell.
The ethos of the company has always been something I’ve valued about my job – and it’s clear that our customers do too. Food should make you feel good, right? Not just nutritionally but morally also.
Working with local, organic suppliers is another highlight. We have a great relationship with our local cheese producers, thanks to Vanessa, our cheese monger, who has been a real innovator.
You get to be involved with a diverse range of issues here, like being made aware of plastic pollution and the need to champion sustainable packaging.
We’ve long been looking at the impact of our packaging in the café, and we recently went plastic straw-free. I didn’t get the straw thing at first … then when I saw how we were blindly throwing them in the bin I could see how crazy it is to think we’ve normalised the use of disposable plastic items – cups, straws, plates etc. This has to change.
What else are our cafés doing to be a force for good?
We have a pretty great sourcing policy – 93% of the food we buy is certified organic. That’s why the Soil Association awarded us the first Organic Served Here award in England.
What is your vision for our cafés in the future?
I see our demographic changing, although I would like to see an even wider range of people coming to us. A part of that vision is us reaching out to them as well, through our offering, our marketing, and our work in the community; it’s a continuous process.
Then there’s the all-important question of where will our next store and café be? We plan to open more in the future and that’s exciting.
Better Food is in a really celebratory mood this month. Not only are we supporting Organic September with in-store tastings, but we’ll be donning our party hats for our 25th Anniversary Community Feast on the 30th September.
Curious about Organic? Come sample some of our yummy café food this Saturday at our Wapping Wharf store to see what the fuss is about.