‘Our food has a big impact on the world’ – Interview Food People

Interview Food people

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Samuel Levie is a political scientist, cook and sausage maker. And oh yes, he also writes books. However, he is best known as the founder of sausage maker Brandt & Levie and marketing agency Food Cabinet.

Levie was born in England in 1983, but came to the Netherlands quite early. His country of birth, however, shaped the rest of his career. During his holidays in England he was always busy with food. However, he did not know for long whether he wanted to make it his profession. So, after passing his final exams, he opted for a gap year in the hotel industry, but in the end the choice fell on political science. Levie wrote his graduation thesis on sustainable food production and policy. From there he ended up on his current path.

What does food mean to you?
“In a narrow sense, food is something we need to survive, a nutrient. In a broader sense, food says a lot to me about the way we interact with the planet, and it says a lot about culture. like food, because what we eating has a huge impact on the world and on the people who produce our food. Many things can be seen through a food lens. For me personally, food means a lot and I am therefore a big foodie.”

Sausage maker, writer or entrepreneur, what are you most like?
“After all, I’m an entrepreneur. I like to do things, set things up and come up with new ideas and implement them. Sometimes it’s small ideas, like the pop-up restaurants where I work as a chef. Sometimes shows itself as a journalist or writer when I invent and publish new recipes. And sometimes it is the activist in me when I am engaged in an important cause. To feel the space to be able to do business, to be able to put things up is very important to me.”

You have founded a lot of companies, which ones are you still active in?
“I spend most of my time working at Brandt & Levie and Food Cabinet, but also on my other initiatives such as Sam & Joris, the soup brand that Brandt & Levie and Joris Bijdendijk will soon relaunch. I am also active at Butcha, where I make kombucha. In fact, I’m still active in all the companies I’ve founded.”

A lot of what you do seems to revolve around a sustainable food system, to what extent do you think that is possible?
“I think we are very far from a sustainable food system now, the things we are doing now are about the steps towards a more sustainable food system. A truly sustainable food system where there is balance, where you don’t eat more than strictly necessary , before we get there, there’s still a lot of work to be done, so there’s also a lot of things we can do to make it more sustainable.”

Brandt & Levie, one of the companies you founded, considers sustainability to be of utmost importance. Does that also mean there are limits to that company’s growth?
“Yes, definitely, it kind of depends on how you look at it. There are always limits to a company’s growth, and we as Brandt & Levie stand for better meat. That meat comes from organic farming and from Sandershof, a farm with with which we work closely together Only about 3% is consumed organically in the Netherlands. That puts us far behind other European countries. In fact, we should all eat less meat, and when we eat meat, choose meat that is made from animals that have weather is kept in a different way than is now the norm. Organic is a good step in that direction.”

“If the total amount of meat that people eat becomes less, but the quality of the meat is better, then the organic farmers benefit, and so do we as buyers and sellers. We certainly have to deal with limits, but our limit is to produce within our own vision with meat from better kept animals. There is really a world to gain if you look at the amount and type of meat that is currently eaten. Brandt & Levie can grow even if the amount of meat the Dutch eat shrinks. But yes, there will also be a limit to our growth.”

Are there any dreams you would like to fulfill?
“Yes, I have other dreams, I want to make livestock farming future-proof. We should actually work towards having animals play more roles in the food system. We used to keep pigs to treat the waste streams from our food system. Really a dot on the horizon. In principle, you should not produce feed exclusively for animals. We are investigating options. A question I often get is whether we should make vegan sausage. But we only market that if it is the best, otherwise we don’t. On a on a more personal level, I’d like to get back to my roots as a chef. I worked in the restaurant business for about ten to eleven years, also had my own business, and I’d like to run my own restaurant again one day.”

Do you think you can change the world?
“When you talk about really big dreams. I have two young daughters and when I look at the way the planet is and how we interact as humans, my biggest dream is that we and the generations to come take the right steps for the planet to them. and for all generations after them. I don’t believe I can change the world as an individual, but we can think about how each individual can make a positive impact for themselves, and I hope to contribute to that.”

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