Last week, Babson Entrepreneur in Residence Andrew Zimmern co-hosted fourth national Food Day alongside Food Sol and his fellow foodie Entrepreneur in Residence Gail Simmons. On Food Day and all year round, Andrew activates and inspires food entrepreneurs of all kinds with his humor, candor and business savvy. Following the theme of this year’s Babson Food Day, Andrew answers this Examiner’s five questions for an eater entrepreneur.
Andrew Zimmern is a chef, food writer and teacher, as well as the creator, host and co-executive producer of Travel Channel’s hit series Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your food journey.
It’s been 53 years in the making from a young douchey know-it-all to someone who tries to remain teachable, and I don’t think I could have done it without being in the food space. The best people on the planet are food people. Now I try to focus on inspiring others to think about people and placing food solutions in the path of our food problems. My journey has been from a selfish point of view to what I’m hoping is a broader, more inclusive, more selfless one.
Q: To what extent are your food choices and purchases reflective of your personal values? Would you share some of those values?
I believe eating well in America is a class issue and I believe that’s wrong. I believe in decentralizing our food production and distribution into several silos so that we can restore some balance to our food economy and provide access to all. I believe in working hand in hand with Big Food to solve our problems because none of those companies are going away. I believe we can find many of the solutions to our modern problems by looking outside of our own cultures for the answers. I align my food choices and purchases with those ideals by supporting small businesses, advocating for change via my pocketbook, and eating/buying sustainably.
Q: “Eating is an inherently entrepreneurial act.” Do you agree? Why or why not?
Of course is it is. It’s purely entrepreneurial. We support with our dollars and we create when we cook, so regardless of where we are we are practicing entrepreneurship principles every time we intersect with food.
Q: Given all that you’ve learned along your food journey so far, what entrepreneurial actions or decisions have you made when it comes to meal planning in your daily life?
We have eliminated processed foods in our home. We purchase from local sources exclusively whenever it’s possible. We cook the majority of our meals at home. We eat as a family every night. We cook together at least once a day.
Q: Do you feel that through food, you have agency in affecting the food system? How so?
I think I am in a unique position to give back through the platform I’ve created to advocate for change. I think as someone to whom much has been given, it’s my responsibility to give back by affecting change in the food system where it needs fixing. I am currently trying to figure out a way to take my food truck non-profit as I grow our for-profit centers elsewhere. I believe in purchasing differently from most companies by going local and, for example, advocating for Minnesota goat farmers.