Oh My Food, It’s Ok to Be Ugly!
Interview with Caroline and Petra, founders of GRIM
If you have had the experience of living like a Copenhagener or a Dane, you most likely will have discovered their food and social culture - from daily repases, formal social occasions, private parties, to specific holiday celebrations- Danish people have most of their meals at home or take homemade meals with them. Although public food spots range from small hot dog stands to the world’s best restaurants that continuously attracts people hailing from all over the world. Eating at home or in a self-setting is in fact the true general culture in their everyday lives.
Aside from learning of their close-to-home eating habits, another fact that might surprise you is that Danish citizens do most of their grocery shopping at large chain supermarkets. With the ecological movement,consumer awareness in health has developed mutually since the 1970s. Higher demand of quality and transparency of food resource has translated into new business marketing establishments in the form of food box and meal kit delivery services, starting from around twenty years ago.
The meal box concept has been embraced with love by the Danes for 5 main reasons:
- Easy and less time consuming dinner delivered directly to the door
- Healthy meals
- More freedom in everyday life
- Fewer shopping trips
- Reduced food waste
I was fascinated in learning more about each meal box company’s mission, value and way of operating during the month I lived in Copenhagen. Most of them support and cooperate with local farms and organic ingredients can always be found or prioritized as a selection.There are many great examples and pioneers to talk about and speak with. A common theme with these meal boxes are to create solution aimed at improving urban happiness in health,social, and ecological dimensions.
However, no matter if their food comes from the supermarket or a meal box, in the middle of this beautifully curated farm-to-table system, a new project is born into the spotlight. What of the fruit that usually goes straight into the waste bin? Here we introduce GRIM, the ugly fruit and veggie meal box brand by Carolin and Petra.
“FILL YOUR TUMMY WITH HEALTHY LOVE FOR OUR PLANET INSTEAD OF FILLING TRASH BINS!”
Dive deep into a problem
As two best friends from Copenhagen business school, GRIM got its start as Carolin and Petra’s social entrepreneurship project at school. I was immediately hooked in with their refreshing candor and enthusiasm, “We both love food, so finding out the most crucial problem in food became our top mission.” Petra said.
These food waste opposers then started their journey to explore how wasteful behaviour is rooted within our society. Here is an example what their research had uncovered:
About 1/6 of all veggies and fruit grown are lost on farms. In Denmark alone, that amounts to about 100.000 tons a year. It’s not only a pain to the farmers,but to Mother Earth as well. Globally, up to 21% of the world’s freshwater use and 28% of arable land are used to grow foods that we don’t eat.
““At the same time we worry about that we don’t have enough food for the growing population. There is a missing link between consumers and farmers. We want to find the solution for the end of food chain directly on the farmland. Re-valuing GRIM veggies and fruits totally make sense!” - Petra
They dare to f*** the beauty standard
Food is being wasted, especially in very well developed countries. This is mostly related to the “beauty standard” expected by customers. It is a problem on both sides as it is an associated consumer behavior directed and decided by the merchants or supermarkets. However, "ugly" just means those apples and carrots aren’t as big, red, square or straight enough to be sold in regular markets.
As the sole ugly-food-exclusive meal box in Denmark, Caroline and Petra’s approach in finding solutions to reduce food waste is to not be afraid to challenge customers’ and the conventional food market’s familiarity and comfort zones.
They source ugly foods directly from local organic farms in Denmark, even the produce struggling to grow in at the end of their season, so don’t be too surprised to receive skinny carrots or small bunches of kale for a few weeks! By doing so, they not only resolve one of the issues surrounding food waste, but they can pay farmers with fair price without the middleman, thereby make sure ingredients travel shorter distances and has a lower environmental footprint.
The vision of GRIM, besides being eco-friendly, is a lot about educating. “Our boxes come with some small guidances: Why was it rejected? The story of the farm. Who the farmer is. Sustainable values etc. Also, we provide simple tips for instance,on how to make an easy recipe with simple ingredients, or how to store food properly. We want to give the knowledge and educate the consumers to become more conscious in all aspects.” - Caroline
Petra continued, “Our bigger vision of GRIM is to create a platform to connect any sort of farmers, not only organic ones, as well as conventional or commercial farms who produce second and third grade veggies. Make the solution system scalable for everyone and even to other countries.”
“WE, THE PEOPLE, DO HAVE THE POWER TO STOP TRAGIC WASTE OF RESOURCES IF WE REGARD IT AS SOCIALLY UNACCEPTABLE TO WASTE FOOD”
GRIM is good food for all
Denmark as a high living cost country, nothing in the foodbox market so far has a more affordable price for a student. GRIM’s goal is also to make meal box accessible for everyone, as organic or high quality food should also be an equal resource for all social levels. Caroline and Petra hope to keep GRIM box cheap in the most reasonable range to make it easy for more people to live healthfully and sustainably.
Besides, I believe I’m not the only one who fell in love with their story at first bite!
These two lovely creatives try to embrace a larger, younger market with alternative brand identity. Why does the meal box need to appear as so fancy? Earthy? Family oriented? Or Luxurious? We want students to cook together, to share food and understand that good food doesn’t always need to be so expensive.
Team up makes us better
While teaming up with Danish farmers who are also at the very forefront in farming more sustainability, Carolin and Petra also collaborate with other small startups to fill up difficulties in their project…... “We are not trying to be the best (meal box), but focusing on our mission of how to reduce maximum food waste is the most important thing at this moment. And try to make this vision easy, find solutions. Teaming up with other startups is also supportive in a bilateral way.” explained Caroline.
“After the first test round, we have not yet find a better delivery solution. We went door by door ourselves by car, carried them up the stairs, and for us it’s not very sustainable… (Why do all the Danes have to live at fifth floor at this moment?!?! The two girls cried and laughed out loud! )
Looking for better sustainable city logistic solutions
is definitely at the top of the list on how to improve
the project.” - Caroline.