Change Food Fest Speaker Highlight: Scott Norton

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Scott NortonWe’re excited to introduce you to our speakers for the 2016 Change Food Fest through a series of personal Q&A’s. Today we are talking with Scott Norton, co-founder of Sir Kensington’s.

Scott Norton is the co-founder of Sir Kensington’s, the premier producer of all-natural ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard distributed nationwide. Scott has been named one of Fast Company’s “Most Creative People in Business” and was featured on Forbes’ “30 Under 30.” Prior to founding Sir Kensington’s, Scott worked at Lehman Brothers in Tokyo and co-founded AsiaWheeling, traveling across Asia for ten months on a folding bicycle.

For a more in depth conversation with Scott, check out the We Could Make That podcast with Andrea Wien (Andrea also happens to be a volunteer with Change Food Fest!).

What inspired you to get involved with the good food movement?

I see food as the perfect way to put education and entertainment together, through both nature and culture. If the work that we do can inspire people to ask more questions about the food they eat, experiment more in the kitchen, and become more curious about what makes food special, it means a lot to us. Our mission is to bring integrity and charm to ordinary and overlooked food, and especially by challenging expectations in commodity categories, we can help people realize that condiments are food, too.

Aquafaba is getting a lot of press right now, but for those who do not know what it is, can you explain?

Fabanaise, Sir Kensington'sWhen chickpeas are soaked in water and boiled, the water absorbs their starches and proteins. That’s why when you drain a can of chickpeas, the liquid that comes out is viscous and thick. That liquid is called Aquafaba, and it can be used to emulsify oil and replace other properties of egg whites and yolks. Aquafaba is latin for “bean water” and was popularized by vegan bakers, especially those making meringues. Visit aquafaba.com for much, much more info and recipes.

Why did you partner with a hummus company for your aquafaba instead of making your own?

Aquafaba is naturally a waste product from the process of making hummus, since chickpeas are boiled before they are blended. Because Ithaca Hummus had a surplus of Aquafaba that was previously going to waste, we partnered with them to upcycle the product and put the ingredient to use. Making our own Aquafaba would mean that we’d have a surplus of chickpeas, and so instead of creating food waste, we worked to reduce it.

Right now, there is a Fabinase Food Truck spreading the word about vegan mayo made with aquafaba on the East Coast. What is the market for vegan mayo? And are you promoting it to vegans or to other types of consumers?

The Fabanaise Truck has been tearing it up along the eastern seaboard, and this Monday was parked on the Whitehouse, Sir Kensington'sWhite House lawn for SXSL. We promote Fabanaise to everyone – it happens to be vegan, but is not positioned only to vegans. As an omnivore, I often prefer it to other mayos we make for certain applications.  

Obviously, there are many animal welfare issues involved in the egg industry. Do you think that people might be willing to transition to more plant-based options like Fabinase? Was this a consideration when you created this new product?

Plant-based foods are becoming more prominent throughout the market, which is a great thing. For human and environmental health, our reliance on factory farming is untenable. Animal welfare is something very important to us, which is why for our traditional mayonnaise, we source certified humane, free range eggs. We’re the only ones to use such a high certification in commercial mayonnaise.

As for our Fabanaise, while it is completely plant-based, we didn’t create it with the intention of reducing reliance on eggs because with the right animal welfare practices, there is such a thing as a good egg.

What’s one thing individuals can do to contribute to a better food system?

Cook! Cook at home. Cook at your friend’s home. The more we buy, touch, and create what we eat ourselves, and the less corporations cook for us, the better the food system will get. You’ll start learning more, asking better questions, recognizing the reason why certain ingredients are better, and feel more of a sense of pride and responsibility for the food you eat. If you can, shop at farmer’s markets or join a CSA. Improvement and connection to the food system starts with cooking.

The Change Food Fest “Growing the Good Food Movement”  will take place in New York City on November 12th and 13th, 2016. We will explore and celebrate change happening in the food system. Rather than simply talk about problems, we will actively look at solutions that are leading us to the sustainable food system we wish to see. Our focus will be on both real and visionary change and will include an exploration into seafood, plant based vs meat diets, possible impacts of new businesses and investment money coming into the food space – and much more. You can purchase a ticket or host a viewing party of the live webcast in your local community. Follow the action at #CFFest2016!

Change Food aggregates the best of the best already working toward healthy food change, amplifies their voices through our events and programs, and advance their work and the goal of the food movement – to provide healthy, safe, delicious, fair food for ALL. To learn more, visit ChangeFood.org. Follow and support us on Patreon.