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Food Waste Challenge – Community Voices August 29, 2016

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Over the course of the Food Waste Challenge, we'll be featuring snapshots of OpenIDEO members who have been making significant contributions to our community. This week, let’s take a look at what’s been inspiring Shengmin Qian and Julie Ann Fineman in the Challenge.


Shengmin Qian — I work as a design researcher and innovation strategist at Bits x Bites - a food innovation startup in Shanghai, China. Our mission is to shape the future of good food. With a background at the intersection of design, culture, and business, I’m fascinated with facilitating innovation processes and as well as delivering concrete solutions.


Julie Fineman — After a career as a photographer in Hollywood, a year’s apprenticeship on an organic farm changed my life and my perspective on what’s important. I now have an opportunity to combine creativity and business acumen to facilitate change from with my startup concept: PeakPlate.com



What's an important lesson you've learned about reducing food waste growing up?

Julie:  “Waste nothing “ was my grandmother’s motto.  She told me stories of how her family survived the great depression when she was little. Eating scraps of whatever they could find. I.e. stale bread, boiling bones from the butcher to make soup then sucking out the marrow. This left an indelible impression.  When I was hit hard during the recent recession, her stories prepared me for that challenging time.


Shengmin: Only a few decades ago, China was a country with serious food shortage. The situation transformed rapidly with economic development, which also brought major problems like food safety issues and food waste. Currently, the former is widely discussed while the latter lacks attention. I would like to investigate on the food waste problem and try to make some changes.


How might you build on some of the posts in the Research phase for the upcoming Ideas phase?

Shengmin: After doing some research myself, I realized that food waste is a systemic problem happening all along the journey: from agricultural production, handling and storage, to processing, distribution and consumption. In the OpenIDEO's research phase there were so many inspirations: some focus on the processing phase such as the example “ Rubies in the Rubble,” which turns ugly veggies and fruits into chutney. Some focus on the consumption phase like “ OLIO,” which is an app encouraging surplus food sharing in the community. Some close the loop by using consumption waste for agricultural production like the “ coffee grounds for growing mushrooms” example. I really like these simple but engaging ideas which feel very relevant to our everyday lives.


Julie: Building on each other’s stories, opens creative dialogue  can unleash new ways to solve problems found in the research phase.


Join Julie, Shengmin and the rest of the OpenIDEO community on the Food Waste Challenge!

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Food Waste Challenge