This has been a long time coming. For years, if there was a special occasion, we would drive the kilometers to Kimberley to visit one of their unique restaurants; I felt like our own city lacked versatility in restaurant options, and the food and waste philosophy did not quite align with mine. It was about time that such restaurant would come along in Cranbrook and (hopefully) start a new trend. Introducing: Soulfood.
Soulfood is a restaurant that has a welcoming and warm atmosphere; a place where you can see their passion for food and environment, and that their practices reflect their philosophy. Smiling faces all around, friendly service, and always something new in the works. I can’t decide if the best part of this place is the food, versatility, green practices, or philosophy. I suppose these are all connected back to where this place originated.
I decided to contact Soulfood to ask them some questions about their beautiful business and how it all got started. They were kind enough to take the time to answer my questions. As always, they have new plans on the go!
What sparked the dream behind Soulfood?
Soulfood started after a local food and permaculture event that Christel & Tamara attended. A group of us got together to try and bring local, organic food into our community. The dream was to open a Food Hub where farmers could drop off all of their produce, meat, etc, and then businesses such as bakers, butchers, cafes and grocery shops would set up shop at the same location and use this local product in their business.
We got pretty far along the planning stages but then a number of life events happened and the plan died off. Christel, Caitlin & Tamara all met up a year or so later, after talking to one another at the farmers markets and still seeing a need for more in the community. Instead of going the big food hub dream we thought we would start a little smaller with the cafe idea. It was important for us to be able to go to a place that we felt comfortable serving the food to our families. We all eat organic and local at home and we wanted to be able to enjoy this food out in the community as well.
We believe that how you choose your food can be a big factor in reducing your impact on the environment. Choosing local reduces a lot of emissions from travel. You are also supporting your local economy. Organic choices means less chemicals in our environment as well as our bodies. There are ethical and environmental reasons for choosing local, holistically farmed meat.
Our food philosophy is good, clean, kind, food. Good for the environment, good for you, tasty good, clean as in organic and minimally processed, kind as in fair prices to farmers and workers, and humane farming practices. Food as in REAL FOOD. From the Earth using old school sunlight, dirt and water!
How does Soulfood reflect your own philosophy on food and waste?
We are all passionate environmentalists as well as foodies, so it was important to us for many reasons not to waste food. We make soups based on excess produce and we make broths with our veggie trimmings. We compost everything! We are mindful of the packaging that our food and supplies come in, but this is something we need to work on with our suppliers. We use cloth napkins and cloth hand towels in the bathrooms. We don’t have plastic straws; we use stainless steel straws. We have beeswax reusable wraps that we use in store, and are working towards phasing out plastic bags.
Most of the decor in the restaurant has been re-purposed. The ladders and bed frame on the ceilings were all found on our properties, barn wood, and the chairs were left at the restaurant; we sanded them down and stained with tea and a beeswax finish.
What is the next step for you or what do you hope to achieve?
We are currently working on a program to get rid of disposables altogether. We use compostable cups, containers and cutlery but there still are a lot of resources that go into making those. We all know reduce, reuse, recycle so that’s how we operate; focus first on reducing unnecessary waste, then choose things that can be re-used before choosing things that can be recycled. Everyone has mason jars lying around their house so let’s put them to use; they are the perfect receptacle for coffees, smoothies, and elixirs.
We are going to offer a lending library and a deposit program on mason jars for take out drinks and work on phasing out paper cups. As for the takeout containers we are not sure what to do there; maybe a lending library of glass containers or a discount for people who bring in their own takeout containers. We are open to suggestions!
We change our menu every two weeks so we are always printing new menus. The paper is recycled post consumer and we compost the old ones but it still would be great to have a reusable option.
Our community has been supportive and welcoming to the Soulfood crew, and even if a lot of people are not aware of the green steps Soulfood works hard to achieve every day, they come to Soulfood with a shared mindset and a connection to place, food, and positive energy.
As a zero-waster, I could not be happier to support such an amazing crew of people who work hard to provide healthy, wholesome, and local food to our community, and who have a heart and eye for the environment. Soulfood has come up with incredible alternatives to disposable items, such as using only glass to serve their drinks, stainless steel straws, composting wherever possible, cloth napkins, cloth towels, as well as not plastic wrapping their daily baking.
They strive for zero-waste and hope to be the first zero-waste restaurant in our local area. With taking steps within their restaurant, and working together with their suppliers, such a goal is not far-fetched.
If you are ever in the local area, make sure you stop by and visit Soulfood on Baker Street. You will not be disappointed. They have many unique food options that are simply delicious. Their drink menu is just as creative. The atmosphere is relaxed and positive. Their decor is beautifully re-purposed and natural looking. They will soon be open for dinners, their patio is ready for you to be enjoyed in the sunshine, and often there is live music for you to kick back with on the weekend.
Thank you, Soulfood. I can’t wait to see what you do next.