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“For the longest time we used the term vegan and vegetarian, and that really only describes about three to five percent of our population.” – Maggie Sadowsky
This week on the Gooder Podcast I had the pleasure of talking with Maggie Sadowsky, the President of 8 Track Foods. We discuss how the term plant-based has replaced the word vegan, at least from marketing and consumer-facing format. We learn about beans – one of 8 Track Foods’ main products, and the benefits that it has to the consumers and the planet. And we get to meet one of the people responsible for some of the most significant innovations in Better-For-You food tech.
In this episode we learn:
- A little background about 8 Track Foods and the reason it exists.
- Beans relationship with the American diet, affordability, accessibility, and its inclusion in every type of cultural diet.
- How vegan turned into plant-based and the related impact of food tech.
- About responsibility in the naturals industry to make sure that people do the right thing when it comes to producing BFY products.
- The importance of utilizing your pantry to help control food waste.
About Maggie Sadowsky:
Maggie Seng Sadowsky, the President of 8 Track Foods, is considered a thought leader in Natural Foods and a subject matter expert in plant-based proteins. Maggie graduated from The Ohio State University with a BS in Food Science. She is a Certified Food Scientist (CFS) from the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) and holds advisory positions with the Good Food Institute (GFI) and US Dry Bean Council (USDBC)Innovation Group. Before launching 8 Track Foods, Maggie owned the consulting firm The Culinary Architects, with clients including Conagra, Kellogg and Beyond Meat.
Guests Social Media Links:
Company Website: http://www.theculinaryarchitects.com/
Conagra Brands, Inc. is an American packaged foods company headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Conagra makes and sells products under various brand names that are available in supermarkets, restaurants, and food service establishments.
The Kellogg Company, doing business as Kellogg’s, is an American multinational food manufacturing company headquartered in Battle Creek, Michigan, United States.
Beyond Meat is a Los Angeles-based producer of plant-based meat substitutes founded in 2009 by Ethan Brown. The company’s initial products were launched in the United States in 2012. The company has products designed to emulate beef, meatballs, ground meat, and pork sausage links and patties.
The Wicked Witch of the West is a fictional character who appears in the classic children’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, created by American author L. Frank Baum.
The United States Department of Agriculture, also known as the Agriculture Department, is the federal executive department responsible for developing and executing federal laws related to farming, forestry, rural economic development, and food.
“Jack and the Beanstalk” is an English fairy tale. It appeared as “The Story of Jack Spriggins and the Enchanted Bean” in 1734 and as Benjamin Tabart’s moralized “The History of Jack and the Bean-Stalk” in 1807.
The Good Food Institute is an international 501 nonprofit that promotes plant-based alternatives to meat, dairy, and eggs as well as cultivated meat, as alternatives to the products of conventional animal agriculture.
PepsiCo, Inc. is an American multinational food, snack, and beverage corporation headquartered in Harrison, New York, in the hamlet of Purchase. PepsiCo has interests in the manufacturing, marketing, and distribution of grain-based snack foods, beverages, and other products.
TerraCycle is a private U.S. recycling business headquartered in Trenton, New Jersey. It primarily runs a volunteer-based recycling platform to collect non-recyclable pre-consumer and post-consumer waste on behalf of corporate donors or municipalities to turn it into raw material to be used in new products.
Hilary’s Eat Well is the creator of convenient and culinary foods that are made from real ingredients and are free from common allergens. They are helping to heal the American diet by bringing these foods to all people who seek tasty, nourishing cuisine. Their products forge innovative culinary paths and disrupt the status quo.
NYT Cooking is a subscription service of The New York Times. It is a digital cookbook and cooking guide alike, available on all platforms, that helps home cooks of every level discover, save and organize the world’s best recipes, while also helping them become better, more competent cooks.
Rebellyous Foods developed manufacturing technology to produce high volumes of plant-based alternatives to chicken products using a combination of soy and wheat protein.
Detroit Dirt‘s mission is to drive forward a low carbon economy by diverting waste and promoting materials management.
Diana Fryc: Hi, welcome to the Gooder Podcast, I’m your host, Diana Fryc. As partner and CMO of Retail Voodoo, an award winning branding agency, I have met and worked with some of the most amazing women in the natural’s industry, food and beverage, wellness and fitness. As such, I’ve decided to create the Gooder Podcast to interview these great people and subject matter experts, have them share their insights and expertize to help businesses all around the world become gooder.
I am so excited to introduce my guest today, Maggie Sadowsky, the president of 8Track Foods, who is considered a thought leader in the natural foods and a subject matter experts in plant based proteins. Maggie graduated from Ohio State University with a B.S. in food science. She is a certified food scientist, hello, from the Institute of Food Technologists and holds advisory positions with the Good Food Institute and the US Drebin Council Innovation Group. Before launching 8Track Track Foods, Maggie owned the consulting firm, the Culinary Architects, with clients including ConAgra, Kellogg and Beyond Meat. Welcome, Maggie. How are you?
Maggie Sadowsky: I’m very well. Thanks for having me.
Diana Fryc: Of course. How Chicago today? Windy, I hear.
Maggie Sadowsky: Oh my gosh, it’s like crazy windy. I feel like we’re like a cliché, but it’s really windy today.
Diana Fryc: Well, I feel like for a Chicago person to say it’s windy means something different than to maybe the rest of the country.
Maggie Sadowsky: Yes. I feel like there’s like garbage flying around, it’s like the Wicked Witch of the West.
Diana Fryc: I am so excited for our conversation today. I just was super fascinated and enlightened and talking about beans with just about everybody since we last spoke. So I want to talk about the Natural’s industry, food waste, food science and how beans might save the world. What do we call those? Well, we’ll talk about that in a minute. But first, before we talk about those bigger issues, let’s talk about your brand, 8Track Foods. Tell us about it and why it exists.
Maggie Sadowsky: So, yeah, absolutely. In the US, we waste over 40% of the food we grow and 8Track Foods, we’re really about getting our food supply back on track by creating this sustainable food supply and not just a sustainable product. And sometimes it’s hard to get your head around. But as a food scientist and developer, I really focused on just creating clean label foods and plant based foods. But there was this really strong disconnect for me and what was going on between looking at the entire supply chain and the packaging that we put in. So that’s really why I created like the 8Track, like this infinite loop of looking at every single point in the process to make it work.
Diana Fryc: We have heard actually from a number of clients outside of shelf stable, like we’ll just say beans who have internally when I’ve been talking about the brand that we’ve had a number of clients who said that beans are like literally the super food in every way, shape or form, sort of a lot like how hemp is in regards to its environmental regenerative properties.
Maggie Sadowsky: Yeah, I probably should back up and say, like how I got on this, like crazy being bean path too.
Diana Fryc: Yeah. Let’s do it.
Maggie Sadowsky: Yeah. So like four years ago somebody asked me kind of what the future I thought was happening in plant based and I said beans, because I really do think they are kind of magical in so many ways. They just have been one of this really under serviced commodities in our country. And so I applied for this USDA grant to research more of the science. They’ve just been heavily underfunded and got rejected but really just kept down the path. And then the last summer, well, I guess it would be 2019 summer, I really just made the strong shift that I was going to go in and source and figure out how to make this product better. And that’s really what I did. And so, we looked at everything from how we source our ingredients to how we find our beans to how we distribute are all different and really are designed to reduce food waste and Single-Use Plastics.
Diana Fryc: Yeah. And you’ve got the nutrient density and how beans actually reciprocate in the soil. And I mean, the beans are really magical to all the way back to Jack and the Beanstalk. While the story is a little bit funny, there’s, there’s a lot of magic in those beans.
Maggie Sadowsky: It’s so true.
Diana Fryc: Yeah. Although I want to go back just a little bit in our conversation, at least when we were talking about Expo and the natural foods community and how it’s changed and the kind of the time of your aha moment on what you wanted to do with beans came at the time when both you and I, I think, experienced the same thing, like, wow. I remember when going to Expo was filled with Ora readings and it was a little bit hippie ish in some way. And now of course the category has changed and matured and so has a community. And it’s changed a little bit culturally too. You articulated it so well when we spoke mostly about have this community change has had implications on food production, planet et cetera. But can you talk about it here for everyone else to hear?
Maggie Sadowsky: Oh, yes. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but yeah, I think in the early days of really going to the Natural Expo, it was really focused around small grocers and family environment where people were pushing strollers. And to me it really felt like this like big community and we were all sort of driving towards the greater good. In the last few years, I think we’ve seen it evolve in the natural community and evolved from the natural community, I should say, into the natural food industry. And to me, I think that we’ve lost a lot of that sense of community and what we’re trying to accomplish. And so I think there’s so many things that around the food show that became a lot more glamorous and big as more money came into the place. We lost some of the smaller players.
And that was really, for me, the aha moment that turned me from beans to a can of beans was I was actually sitting at the show and was struggling with a place to find a seat because it was so crowded. And I found myself like tucked in between a garbage can and I just watched this custodian dump all of these plastic containers into the trash and was just a little bit disheartened at how this was really the natural food show and we were throwing away so many plastic packaging, Single-Use. And so the rest of the show I ended up taking pictures of all the waste, not paying attention to the food at all that was on the floor and really decided at that point in time that I was going to find a solution. And that solution to me came from the can because it’s steel and it’s magnetic and it can get picked up in any waste stream. It doesn’t have to be handled differently.
Diana Fryc: Oh, I hadn’t considered that.
Maggie Sadowsky: Yeah. So it doesn’t matter if you put it in the trash. It’s always reclaimed about 70% of the time compared to nine percent of the time with plastic packaging.
Diana Fryc: Oh my goodness. Leave it to the scientists to just boil it down to a fact that’s that easy to digest. Thank you. Oh I like that. Okay cans. Wow. A lot of changes have happened in the world of natural and organics and there’s a little bit of consternation within the community itself in what’s acceptable, what’s not acceptable. You’ve been in some of the conversations around some of these initiatives and products. And I think I recently, when I introduced you to somebody, described you as like the secret sauce, super scientist, food architect is probably the longest job description or job title you’ve ever had behind these newer innovations, including the ones that have blurred the lines, so to speak. On that note, can you talk about how the term plant based has replaced the word vegan, at least from marketing and consumer facing format?
Maggie Sadowsky: So I think that’s really good insight on that, because for the longest time we use the term vegan and vegetarian, and that really only describes about three to five percent of our population. And there was a really strong discussion around how we could change that. And the word, the whole food plant based diet has been something that we’ve been using since the 80s. So really just talking about veganism in terms of plant based was a big initiative to make sure that we could make it more inclusive and include that mainstream consumer. And that really like subtle small tweak, I think was so powerful that it triggered this movement. And that movement meant that everyone could be part of it.
That it wasn’t as elitist and exclusive that you could just give them a meatless Monday and you were being part of the movement rather than being like, okay, you have to give up everything around plant based products or I’m sorry, animal products. And so I think that’s what really triggered it, that everyone can be part of this movement to feed our global population.
Diana Fryc: Yeah, when Retail Voodoo was working with Hillary’s Eat Well and Hillary Brown back when prior to their current ownership, and they were very much talking to vegans because of the definition of a vegan lifestyle. And what we found is that the Flexitarian opportunity and that’s how we pivoted. Their brand was talking to them. But that really untapped is what you’re articulating, this untapped market of people who wanted to eat healthier but didn’t want to be connected to kind of an ideology which veganism has kind of an ideological component to it, many of which people didn’t want to be associated with. And so just knowing that this plant based what is subtle and easy shift that was and did it take off immediately or was there a little bit of massaging that need to be done from a marketing perspective?
Maggie Sadowsky: I think it really took off immediately. I mean, within just a very short amount of time, we were able to encapsulate a lot more people eating, like you said, Flexitarian. And I think veganism sometimes has this or it’s all about animal rights. And so this was more around being a sustainable planet. And we’re all in this, like we’re feeding the human race. So I think that’s where it really did shift and it happened fairly quickly.
Diana Fryc: I want to just touch on this component as a person who is working as a food scientist in food technology there, you kind of straddle a line a little bit and that’s part of what you were identifying at Expo outside of just the waste componentry. And I feel like, I don’t know if discomfort is the right word, but in regards to some of these initiatives, because this is part of your brand story, can you share the tension that you feel between working and architecting these new products and what you feel like is maybe the best thing? This is in your head of course, we’re not representing a community necessarily, but this just kind of part of your story. Can you share where that tension is and how you feel about it?
Maggie Sadowsky: Absolutely. So I think when I go back a little bit around why I joined the food industry and it was really to clean up labels and make sure that we could get healthy food on everyone’s plates. And, with science comes intrigue and power. And for me, at the beginning of creating plant based alternatives, it was really because there was nothing else available. And so it was important to feel normal and inclusive at a barbecue that you could have a burger on the grill or a chicken nugget. But as it’s kind of evolved and take it on a little bit more mainstream, what I’ve seen happen is, is less emphasis on the health part of that. And so there was, I wouldn’t say it like it’s more of a disconnect with what I was doing at home. So the foods that we’re eating at home were more local and sustainable and simple and Whole Foods. So they were following more of a whole food plant based world.
And so that’s really where I came to the sense that like beans are really the perfect food. And I’m sorry, but they are so unsexy that we’re going to turn them into something sexy. So I think that tension is still is very much there for me. I know it’s the industry that I helped build, and I’m very much in support of the progress that we’ve made. But I do think we also have to be careful and mindful of the messages that we send to consumers. So just by being plant based, I don’t think, just because you eliminate meat does not mean that you’re healthy. So it depends what you build that back with. And to me, that’s the most important part of this story, is that you have to replace it with things that are healthy for your whole being and hopefully for the planet.
Diana Fryc: Yeah, well, I don’t know how to say this exactly, but when we talk about the more educated consumer, their understanding of food science is maybe a little bit more mature than people who are newer entrants into the category.
And I think as manufactured this product, we need to be careful not to confuse the consumer, as you were saying, was like just simply being plant based doesn’t mean that the processing doesn’t eliminate some of the characteristics that are more traditional, I don’t know, meat based or other based type of product. So I think there are some ownership on us in this category to make sure that just plant based, is why we want to steer people that way because it is, yes, better than we just have to be careful that we’re not giving it more power or more strength than it should. Am I capturing that the right way?
Maggie Sadowsky: I think so. I think we have to make sure that it’s not just a buzzword, that it’s not just a low, we’re not just slapping on a no fat or low fat. Then we’ll turn this into a fad and not a movement. Yes. So I think that you’ve captured it very well.
Diana Fryc: Yeah, I think when I spoke with Paula Reichel just recently, actually, she used the term health washing. And maybe that’s probably what you’re tipping your hat towards.
Maggie Sadowsky: Yes, a little bit.
Diana Fryc: Well, so I’m going to say this beans, right? There’s a lot to share about beans and it’s superpower ish-ness. But let’s talk about some of those components when we talk about food chain and waste and carbon footprint, that’s in addition to the benefits for consumers in regards to health. Let’s talk about the bean all the way through the food cycle.
Maggie Sadowsky: Yeah. I mean, beans are really the perfect food on so many levels. And I think we’ve talked about them as an industry more around the health aspects for a long time. The angle and the lens that I think can really impact consumers today and the best way I’m focusing on this messaging is because they’re sustainable. They really are truly one of the few regenerative agriculture crops and meaning they had this symbiotic relationship with the soil and help fix the nitrogen in the soil. So it’s what they’re doing just by growing is something good for the planet. And then I think the waste part of that is the nice thing is dry edible beans come straight off the field. And you don’t have to utilize any refrigeration. They just need to be polished and then you can turn them into so many other things. So I think if we look at it from start to finish, they do their job on not wasting any fuel, getting transported or refrigerated.
Diana Fryc: And they can be grown, but they’re not as fickle as some other type of fresh or even other type of products. They can grow in various climates. It might be by variety. I’m not quite sure. But my understanding is you can put them pretty much anywhere.
Maggie Sadowsky: Yeah. I mean, they are very versatile crop and I think we do grow quite a few beans in the United States. A lot of them are actually exported. We really want to make sure that we’re supporting, US farmers and but they are very resilient crops. We’ve just become a monoculture crop. So a lot of the farmers don’t grow them. But, yes, the soils can handle them.
Diana Fryc: Yeah. Well, let’s talk about beans then in the relationship against the American diet and the impacts that it’s having in even its most simplest forms. And we could talk even about affordability and accessibility and even its inclusion in pretty much every type of like cultural diet.
Maggie Sadowsky: Yeah. Where to start with that one, but I agree there, where beans have consumption has declined fairly significantly since the 1950s and we do know that by eating at least a half a cup of beans today, there are extreme positive impacts. The blue zone diets are these seven spaces on the earth where people live to over 100. And the one thing they have in common is beans. So it’s one of the very few foods that you can actually add to your diet and lose weight. Because they have such great fiber content. And yeah, they are just overall powerhouses in the nutrition world.
But the American diet, we’ve really just started to replace those with meat and dairy have started to take the role. So bringing that back is going to be a shift. But you’re right, they do exist in every culture. And there’s so many foods that that are seasoned and can taste amazing with just beans. And people don’t think of them as meatless. I don’t know if I encapsulated everything you wanted to on that.
Diana Fryc: Well, I did laugh a little bit when I think of beans. I am currently on The New York Times cooking Facebook page, which is a pretty intense group of cooks, chefs, everybody from the basics all the way through the most sophisticated. And there is a subsection I even want to call it like this cult are being culture, if I can call it that, super-fans of beans. And in some instances, I’m seeing people hoarding and trying to find there’s a couple of brands specifically in the dried space that seem to have a whole bunch of varietals. Some of them are older beans that are kind of being brought back in and talk about what is happening, what is happening with that.
Maggie Sadowsky: I think right now there is just this. I mean, really, they haven’t been explored as far as cooking. And there’s so many really cool varietals. I mean, one, they are just beautiful know to look at like an orchid bean. And it’s a beautiful black and white bean or canario beans that are yellow. So I think we do grow quite a few here in the US and they’re just in smaller areas and smaller pockets of the country. But chefs alone have discovered that not all beans actually tastes the same. So a lot of it is around knowledge base. You can get different potato flavors, other ways with some of the beans you can add, like if you were doing a meat replacement, like part meat and part kidney beans, you can get like moisture product with that. So there are science aspects that go with it. But I definitely think the heirloom beans are kind of this new place that’s yet to be discovered. And I find it absolutely exciting too.
I have several different varieties in my house from China doll and the lentils too. There’s a lot going on with the black beluga Lentils. And so I think it just kind of up scales this commodity product. And I do believe that we’ll see a lot of that. But there was definitely a lot of bean hoarding last year. I like to think that if everyone ate all the beans that were awarded last year, we would like reverse climate change and obesity all in one shot.
Diana Fryc: I know this sounds so weird because we’re like so specific on beans. But is there a bean that doesn’t get respect or just has been because it wasn’t popular should just get a little bit of extra love right now. Or is it like the black bean is the most versatile. Everybody should have that, like I’m curious about it.
Maggie Sadowsky: Yeah. No, I think that’s a really good point. So when I started on this and I decided I was going to do it, they didn’t write chickpeas on any of the cans. It just said garbanzo bean. And so that insight came from I was walking to the grocery store and somebody much younger than me asked me if I could help her find chickpeas. And I realized that there was a disconnect between we were teaching people how to make hummus with chickpeas. But they didn’t realize that those were garbanzo beans. And so over the course of the last three to four years, we’ve seen garbanzo beans turn into chickpeas to turn into doing roasted chickpeas. I think chickpeas are having their little limelight, their moment in the in the spotlight for now. So I don’t think they’re alone. I think they’ll be like kidney beans are really versatile too. But we’ve only think about them for chili. So yeah, I agree.
Diana Fryc: That’s so fun. Do you have fans, is there like a product or is there a bean in your family that seems to be the most popular right now?
Maggie Sadowsky: Yeah. So I mean in the products that we sell, I would say chickpeas are definitely our number one skew, just out of one, I think just that they’re good products. We did source the best and, but the other part is I think there’s just a lot of buzz on social media with chickpeas and what you can do with them.
So people are a little bit more curious around recipes.
Diana Fryc: Yeah. I want to kind of transition a little bit here, Christie Lagally of Rebellyous Foods, who I spoke with recently. She’s the one that connected the two of us. And I think you guys met through the Good Food Institute. Talk a little bit about that relationship and how it’s maybe transforming how you look at the business or how it’s helping you kind of spread the word on the work that you’re doing.
Maggie Sadowsky: Yeah. So the Good Food Institute started just a little over five years ago. And I think Christie and I were some of the early people involved and I had a lot stronger role. So I’m just an adviser. I’m around a lot of times for startups to make sure that they’re keeping our food supply safe and lending some technical support to make sure that they can kind of push through and get their products out the door. But really, the Good Food Institute has done some remarkable things in raising awareness around plant based diets. And I think in a lot partnerships with large organizations and corporations to facilitate that. I think one of the biggest areas of focus right now is around cellular based meat for the Good Food Institute. And that’s really growing meat products from different sources. And the structure around that to scaffold it and make it feel like actual meats, like a muscle of meat. So they’re definitely pioneering a lot of the — I would say it took on as a global phenomenon, which was pretty cool. It’s funny to watch kind of just short-term growth, how much they pushed out.
Diana Fryc: Yeah, I think the interesting part for me is the amount of interest that’s coming from Silicon Valley that mostly because food wasn’t sexy until I think the people in tech saw that food technology and they got it right. And so the funding and the financing that’s coming from that community, transitioning from tech into food and food tech is pushing a lot of boundaries. Some of them are scary for people. In other instances, we’re finding opportunities to kind of tap into markets and to help consumers that have been underserved. And I think that’s where beans kind of seem like they kind of fit that need of they’re affordable, they’re accessible, they’re easier to transport.
How are you in the bean community, because I understand that you are in the bean community of yes, there is one because there’s always a community around anything exciting, this group of people. How are you helping consumers who’ve been kind of moved away from Whole Foods and natural foods kind of re-insert beans into their diets aside from physically giving it to them? And I’m thinking about recipes and education around those types of products. Can you talk a little bit about that.
Maggie Sadowsky: Yeah, absolutely. So really, for us, it’s showing people what they can do with a simple can of beans. I like to say that you could do so much with a can of beans. Like what I tell people that I was launching. That’s almost a funny story. When I tell people like I told them, I’m like, I’m starting my own food company and I’m one of the most innovative people in the food industry. And so they were just like couldn’t wait to see what I was doing. What are you going to do in food tech? And when I showed off my can of beans, like flat faces, like, are you kidding? Like, this is what you’re going to do with food.
But for me it was like, oh my gosh, you can invent for the rest of your life with a can of beans. And that’s really the way we started to engage our consumers. We have done so much on social media to show them what you can do. Like last week, I was taking pictures of a red bean and barbecue slider that I had roasted pineapple on top of and it was to die for. And so just showing people that they can do so much with a can of beans rather than just like, I don’t know, we think of it as just chili and does it has a weird texture. But just knowing that people can do so much of that, you could mash it, you can roast it. There’s simple ways to incorporate it. So we’ve done a lot with recipe development to get people to understand the benefit.
Diana Fryc: Oh that’s great. Now before we kind of mosey on over to the questions that I ask everybody at the end of every show, I want to make sure that we were able to touch on everything that you wanted to share with our audience today.
Is there anything that you’re, like, really want to share about either what you’re wanting to do with the brand from a long term standpoint or kind of some learnings that you had when you were kind of through this transformation?
Maggie Sadowsky: Oh, it’s been quite a transformation, but I think we covered off most of it. I think just keeping people aware that utilizing their pantry and really focusing on the pantry helps reduce food waste because you’re not throwing away perishable ingredients all the time. And realizing that you can cook so many fresh meals from your pantry that it’s a disconnect for so many people. But if you like make a chili, you realize you’re using can beans and can tomatoes and maybe jarred garlic and spices and all of those things create a fresh meal? So that’s really what I hope that we can accomplish long term.
Diana Fryc: The Food Network has made some significant pivots over the pandemic and Guy Fiari has got some grocery games or something and he’s modified it and asked chefs to make products. Like the last show that I saw was to make meals with $20 using basically pantry food and beans I think were in all the dishes that the chefs made. So really interesting crossover for me there in that thinking there, I think there’s some room maybe we can get some chefs intrigued and push more in that direction. Let’s get us out of Chili’s. Hey.
Maggie Sadowsky: Right. And I always joke like I always talk about all the awesomeness of our beans on our planet, but they also score really well on like taste and quality. We definitely have the best beans.
Diana Fryc: Oh, my goodness. Well, listen, I wonder if there’s some sort of I mean, we talked a lot about some beans and we touched on kind of food tech a little bit. I always like to have some sort of fun informational tidbit that people can share over a cocktail whenever that might happen again. What would you like to share that’s kind of interesting for our listeners today?
Maggie Sadowsky: I would have to say, recently I was asked to participate in, like an ag class at Penn State, and they were working on this, like, wicked problem or ethical practice that we face in our field. And they asked me to pose a question for them. And so maybe that’s the thing that and the question I posed for them and they have all semester to figure out the answer was whether food companies should be responsible for recycling transparency and is it enough to just put a recycle symbol on the package without really helping the consumers understand how much work goes into that? So many of our packages are not recycled or not recyclable, and nobody’s really monitoring to make sure that there’s truth in that.
With only nine percent of plastics recycled, I think we really need to focus on that. So I guess that would be my very weird little tidbit. Think about that good conversation starter.
Diana Fryc: Yeah, I’m pretty sure it was PepsiCo that I have seen recently pushing a pretty aggressive recycling campaign. Even from an advertising standpoint, they’re buying media about recycling and then the efforts that they’re doing. So I think somebody is hearing, I think somebody is listening. There’s still a lot of plastic.
Maggie Sadowsky: I hope so. Well, and it’s not just that. There’s a lot of containers that we don’t think about that actually are not recyclable at all or they just require so much through programs like TerraCycle and making someone just aware that maybe your water boxes are recyclable.
Diana Fryc: Right. Are there any other women leaders or even rising stars in our industry or not that you would like to elevate or just simply publicly admire girl crush on whatever however you want to call it for the work that they’re doing right now?
Maggie Sadowsky: Yeah, I always struggle with this question, which makes me kind of sad when I struggle with it a little bit. But there is one woman, Pashon Murray, out of Detroit, she’s a co-founder for Detroit Dirt. And they really focus on regenerative agriculture and educating the public around regenerative agriculture and the best practices to kind of restore the balance in our environment.
Very much admire the work she’s doing out of Detroit.
Diana Fryc: Wow. And what brands or what food trends do you have your eye on and why? I don’t know if you can even answer that, can you?
Maggie Sadowsky: I don’t know if I have the right answer for that. I don’t know if I’m watching any brand to see what’s going to happen. I do find the idea of how the fashion industry is going to handle all the sustainable practices around fast fashion. So I think I look to that for influence on what’s going to happen in the food industry. I don‘t have a specific brand that I have my eye on and just more of an industry.
Diana Fryc: Got you. How are you keeping yourself sane and centered these days? Now, I know you’re a single mom, I don’t even know if that’s even a legit question to ask.
Maggie Sadowsky: Well, no, I do. I think it’s been fun starting my own company and doing everything that I would normally have other people do. But really, one thing that I started to do my own food photography and food styling. And that’s fun, really rewarding and frustrating that you spend a whole day to get one shot and sometimes they’re horrible, but you can still see them on my social media. So, yeah, that’s what keeping me sane. It’s just kind of learning that and getting that creative outlet.
Diana Fryc: Oh, that’s so interesting. Okay, great. Now, if people wanted to connect with you either about the brand, your brand or regarding kind of anything else, I suppose, in any way, how do you prefer people reach out to you? LinkedIn, or do you want them to connect with you through your website?
Maggie Sadowsky: Oh, they can do it anyway. I mean, I’m happy to give people my email, which is firstname.lastname@example.org, or they can connect with me on LinkedIn. I think both of those ways they can subscribe to our website, but I always tell people, don’t be afraid to hit me up a few times. I try to get to everybody, but sometimes things get lost in the shuffle so you won’t bug me. Just try again.
Diana Fryc: Okay Maggie, thank you so much for your time today. I’m really excited to see what happens with 8Track and then some of those, for those of you that might be interested, just I bet if you were to walk down the grocery aisle, you would see a lot of Maggie’s work in a number of categories. Just know that this super scientist exists. Like sometimes I think we forget, even in our own industry, we forget that the magic actually starts way back in what I call the scientist sandbox.
Maggie Sadowsky: I like that. The scientist sandbox.
Diana Fryc: Yeah. Thank you so much for your time today. Really wishing you the best of luck. And I look forward to our next connection.
Maggie Sadowsky: Very grateful to be on the show. Thanks for having me.
Diana Fryc: Thank you. This episode is sponsored by Retail Voodoo, a creative marketing firm specializing in growing, fixing, and reinventing brands in the food, beverage, wellness, and fitness industries. If your natural’s brand is in need of positioning, package design, or marketing activation, we’re here to help. You can find more information at retail-voodoo.com. And so there you go. I hope you enjoyed this episode. Thank you so much for hanging out with us today. And if you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to this channel and share with your network. Until next time, be well and do gooder.