The Produce Moms Podcast
Episode 43: Fighting Food Waste and Putting Goodness Back in the Food Industry with Laura Hearn
“Gathering goodness is a mindset to have in all walks of life.” – Laura Hearn (23:28-23:36)
The amount of food that’s wasted each day is just another example of the unnecessary depletion of limited resources. Much of the food that goes to waste never finds its way onto store shelves in the first place, further adding to the severity of this problem. Farmers have to find a use for the excess produce that never makes it to stores. Produce is often left in the fields because their size or shape doesn’t meet the standards of food retailers and consumers.
Laura Hearn co-founded Glean, a company focused on providing nutrient-dense food products to families. Glean gives consumers healthy food options in the form of single-ingredient vegetable flours and powders made from cauliflower, beets, sweet potatoes, and other produce. Other products include healthy treats for pets and gummy products made from fruits and vegetables.
“Forty percent of what farmers harvest can’t be considered Grade 1 produce. So they have to figure out if it’s worth the time and investment required to harvest these products.” – Laura Hearn (8:20-8:38)
Laura co-founded Glean with her brother. Together, they grew up in a family where food played a large role in everyday life. Their experiences in the food industry allowed them to see the hard work that farmers and others put into providing the food we eat. But they also saw that much of the food being produced was going to waste. If produce doesn’t look perfect, it doesn’t end up on store shelves. Farmers are forced to determine how to invest their time and money to harvest items that might not be sold because they don’t look perfect.
Glean was born out of a need for turning produce that doesn’t make it to market into products that people can use. Laura began with flour made from dehydrated and milled sweet potatoes. She was able to create a product that maintained its flavor and nutrition while giving consumers an alternative to traditional cooking ingredients. Vegetable-based flours are beneficial for people who have food allergies and other nutritional concerns. Glean’s products represent the company’s willingness to do more and have a positive impact on those in need. For every pound of product they sell, they donate a pound to food banks and other organizations that help people struggling to meet their nutritional needs.
Growing Into Something Bigger
Working in the food industry helped the Glean founders address inadequate food labeling practices. Many products on the market aren’t clearly labeled, making it difficult for health-conscious consumers to make the right choices for their families. This gave Laura the inspiration to help consumers who need to know what’s in their food due to concerns over gluten, allergens, and other ingredients that can compromise health.
Along the way, Glean has grown into something bigger. The brand resonates with many people, and its growth has occurred organically over time. Laura and the Glean team have learned how to launch products, break into new industries, and develop new categories. Their products can now be found in retail stores throughout the southeastern part of the U.S. as well as online and in specialty health food stores.
It’s going to take a lot of innovators to solve the food waste crisis in America… There’s too much of a consumer mindset to have picture-perfect produce in this food-secure nation.” – Lori Taylor (22:50)
Glean’s products are gluten- and allergen-free, and the company’s work has been recognized by the American Farm Bureau. The future of Glean includes the development of new products using patented technologies and creating products no one else can. They’re fighting the idea that produce has to look perfect to be good. This common belief is one of the reasons why food waste has become such a huge problem.
By focusing on creating good in all areas of life, you can make an impact on the work you do and the people you serve. Glean encourages others to eat more fruits and vegetables while learning the stories behind the food we eat every single day.
Learn more about Glean
Visit liveglean.com to learn more about their mission and products. Use the promo code “TPM” to get 20 percent off any product.
How to get involved with The Produce Moms:
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Episode 43 of #TheProduceMoms #Podcast features Laura Hearn, co-founder of @LiveGlean. Learn how they company is helping avoid food-waste with #innovation of nutrient-dense food products. Click To Tweet