BAKEYS: This is their story

1.    Summarize your business in one sentence. 

BAKEYS is a revolutionary and sustainable innovation, that is a change maker.

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2. How long have you been in business? 

Since 2006, when I first innovated and manufactured edible spoons.

3. Why did you decide to start the company?

I was a researcher on ground water and power sector reforms and had a background in research on agriculture, horticulture, water management, all sorts of farming techniques, crops, land and soil use and misuse, rain patterns and its impacts on farming in India. This led me to think about how I could help save millet that is slowly declining in farming, as farmers go for fast buck cash crops.

The losses, debt traps, increased suicide of farmers, and the migration of farmers to cities in search of work, never to return to farming again, was a very disturbing trend.

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I wanted to create a product that would help the soil, preserve millet production for my products and most importantly drive away plastic from food eating, so I created cutlery.

Our mission and vision is to protect the soil, ground water, promote millets and stop plastic invasion.

4. What has been your biggest achievement so far? 

1. Creating Edible cutlery- we are the  change makers and the world has recognized the product, its need and its urgency for sustainability.
2. Creating an automatic machine between May 2016 to February 2017, first of its kind custom designed locally by us in Hyderabad-India, totally a Made in India product.
3. Creating a buzz all over the world, 130 countries know about us and have placed orders for cutlery when we are ready to supply them. All of them want to throw away plastic from their food/ cutlery usage and turn to eco friendly modes/ products. We have been fairly successful in creating mass awareness on ills of plastic in food consumption and made the world stand and think about what we have all been doing to our planet and eco system. If a child is awakened at a young age on how each of them can change their habits, the world and how to protect self, then it’s a big job done for the world to help trigger future protectors of the Earth.

4. Several universities from several countries are taking up our product as part of  their sustainability programme and researching them for studies. Students from at least 20 countries contacted us for details on our product and how they can create awareness/ manufacture/ make more such products to create alternatives to disposable and harmful plastic.

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Painting of Mr. Peesapatya made by Faith Jelks, a first grader at Calavera Hills Elementary in Carlsbad, CA.

5. How do you measure success?

The above mentioned biggest achievements are a success for us. Particularly #4, as this will lead to several innovations, creative thinking, out of the box thinking and experimentation. Going beyond academics.

Edible cutlery being manufactured with local ingredients in each continent followed by each country will be a real time answer and mission completion of our vision and provide a spoon full of contribution to a sustainable world.

6. What have you learned in the process? 

Innovation is a process of meditation- seeking God through research, patience, persistence, hard work, not ever giving up and being 100% focused.

I have learnt all these by experiencing it since I ventured in 2006 to make my first spoon in my kitchen. Coming this far has been a test of rigor, endurance, losses, ridicule, rejections, apathy, being ignored to becoming a hero.

Making an automatic machine that never existed for such an innovative product (concept) was a big challenge for my imagination as am not an engineer by training or academics. Learning about metallurgy, electrical, mechanical engineering and blending it to make an efficient system has taken my life out and am now a different person than what my family knew me as. I’m evolving with my spoons each day.

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7. What advice would you give to someone trying to start a sustainable food company?

Stay tuned to your inner call. Never give up, keep dreaming and try to act on dreams. Seek help, use intuition, try, fail (several times if needed), but eventually you will walk tall one day. Spend quality time with self, and the idea that lead to your sleepless nights (so you day dream), disturbed your family, angered them, frustrated you (and them), caused you to be ridiculed, but will bring you happiness, as it is your original idea. So, stay focused and don’t ever say I can’t.

8. What’s next? Anything else you want to add?

1. Seeking funds to expand technology.
2. Once funds come in, we will create more machines, all shapes of cutlery, get everything in process mode and systems, ISO standards and logistics world wide. Employ professional and mentor all.
3. Sell technology once perfected so that manufacturing and local distribution happens faster, smoother, cut expenses and time on shipping and breakages.

4. Get the next innovation (still a secret) into action – another one for sustainability.

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It’s a tough job to be an innovator, if you also wish to sell what you manufacture. It is a big challenge if you don’t have the mental, emotional capacity to get into unknown zones of your being where you may need to learn/ unlearn and tear yourself apart to become a new person.

9. Fun question: what was the best meal you ate this week?

We had our Vedic Hindu new year on 29th March (UGADI) and I ate 3 spoons for breakfast as cooking at home got delayed for a big lunch, with several dishes getting prepared. My won innovation saved my hunger pangs till my wife gave me a delicious meal later. I proved that survival really is a mother of  all invention- even my own.

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by Narayana Peesapaty and Pradnya Keskar, Founders of BAKEYS 

Bite sized wisdom: winter is here

Dear Friends,

We are deep into winter. Leaves have fallen, birds have flown, and as I scribble down these words snow is making its second appearance. The beauty of snow is that it falls out of the darkest skies, on the gloomiest of days. It reminds us that some magic requires shadows to be seen.

This is true of our own magic and creativity. We as humans are made up of happiness and sadness, health and sickness, positivity and negativity, and yet we always seem to think that one is better than the other. It’s not. To fully appreciate the light we need to go as deeply into the darkness. I think this is why we have our own winters.

Usually winter makes us feel cold and bare. Many plants and animals are nowhere to be seen so we start believing that we are surrounded by something negative. We are not. While things may seem dead, they are actually re-energizing, planning and preparing for a new life ahead. Why do you think spring is one of the most colorful seasons? It’s because after conserving all the energy, the flora and fauna is ready to be reborn and appear in all its glory. I’d like to think this is also the reason we celebrate the New Year and the ‘new us’ during winter.

saynotofoodwaste.winter.season.shadow.light.living.life.happy.joy.future.adventure.2

On a personal note, as is evident by lack of activity on the site, I’ve been fully immersed in my own winter. Though my winter came earlier than it did for others, I believe that come spring I will be more energized to create and give back than I have in the past.

After all these years I’ve learned that taking things slow and being constant is more important than rushing ahead in bursts of energy. One of my personal goals for 2016 is to stay constant. I will commit myself to writing at least one blog a week. The reason I’m sharing my personal goal with you is because having a support system as we go through life, or an outlet into which we can pour our thoughts and get back new perspectives, will help us grow better and stronger than if we do it alone.

I’m going back to basics and learning to live simply. A lemon tree produces just one sort of fruit all its life, but it does it so well! Instead of trying to be everything and nothing, because I get overwhelmed with all that I need to do, I’m allowing myself to focus on just one thing and perfecting that art as I go.

Life is short, and we should experience as much as we can, but we shouldn’t sacrifice on quality just so that we can increase the count. I’ve come to know that more is not always better. So, I’m getting behind nature and learning to take my sweet time because I know that when the time comes the fruits of labor will be that much sweeter!

Happy New Year!
Hokuma

5 Lessons from Social Good Summit

From September 21-22, 2014, I was at the Social Good Summit, organized by: Mashable, UN Foundation, UNDP, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and 92&Y. Being around incredible individuals from all backgrounds was inspiring. Each presentation left me with new facts, and new incentives on why I am needed in the fight for a better world. There were five lessons that I took away. I want to share them with you. To inspire and encourage you to make a difference in your community.

 

feel.give.share.care.saynotofoodwaste.provide.sustainable.future1. We are feeling creatures that think.

You and me are fundamentally designed to FEEL first. Our Right brain helps us feel connected to energy and the people around us. Our Left brain helps us make decisions by categorizing all the information we receive. The world we have constructed favors our Left brain, to make decisions, to separate ourselves from others, and to be ‘right’. Our entire relationship with the world is based on how our amygdala is stimulated. Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor discusses how we have the power to choose what world we want to see – the decision is within us. Watch her video from the Social Good Summit.

 

fear.scared.anxiety.depression.saynotofoodwaste.sustainable.happy.planet.people2. Fear cripples and prevents us from change.

When you fear a new situation, a person from a different background or tasting a dish prepared from same basic ingredients, but in a new way, you miss out on life’s valuable experiences. Instead of enriching your world, expanding your knowledge and enjoying the diversity around us, you remain stagnant. And nothing stagnant in life can survive. Change is hard, change is difficult, change requires commitment, and change is best done with others. But fear, it is a poison that we drink in the thought that it is a medicine that will help us, when all it does is paralyze. Here is a song for you dear reader, to break the chains of fear and embrace your own power!  Be proud for wanting to shape your world! Thank you Natasha Bedingfield!

 

collaborate.inspire.share.care.give.provide.saynotofoodwaste.happy.future.planet.people3. Collaborate, share and inspire.

One person can’t change the world, because the world is filled with 7 billion. Yet, what one person can do is inspire others. To do that, they must establish themselves as someone worth knowing and learning from. To do this, we must collaborate and share our knowledge. There are things that you are an expert of, that another person isn’t. But there are many things that you don’t know, which will take you years upon years to learn or discover, unless someone is willing to explain you the basics in a matter of minutes. Collaborate, share and inspire others to be the change. That’s what our responsibility is! And that’s exactly how these young talents reached their success! Hugh Evans, Caitlin Crosby, and Kweku Mandela.

 

nature.life.love.care.give.provide.saynotofoodwaste.sustainable.planet.people.happy4. Bring a ‘human’ aspect to climate change.

How does a plant feel? How does a butterfly struggle when it’s wings are wet? Why does an ant work so hard for its family? I have no answers to these questions because I don’t know how to put myself in their shoes. Since we compare and relate all the information given to us with our own experiences, it is difficult for us to relate to things we aren’t familiar with. But what helps is story telling. If we hear a story in which the plant, the butterfly and the ant are given human characteristics, and go through challenges we faced in our own life, we are able to put ourselves in their shoes. We become more understanding of their struggles. Conservation International and Edward Norton, along with other incredible actors, gave us such a story – Nature is Speaking. Now, we can know what water, soil and all other Earth’s elements are trying to say. Ready to listen?

 

time.people.share.care.give.saynotofoodwaste.think.be.happy.planet.people5. Time for talking ran out. It’s time for doing!

The planet doesn’t need saving, humans need saving! Our way of life is in jeopardy, and this struggle is about humans coexisting with nature. There are no jobs, no living on a dead planet, at least not for us. Organization and companies of all sorts have realized that our time for preserving our life here on Earth is running out. Even the Rockefellers will divest from fossil fuels! But the carbon particles we meant to stop at 350 have risen to 400! Executive Director of Greenpeace International, Kumi Naidoo, said it best: “Nothing that we can tell them [world leaders and organizations], they don’t know. Nothing that we can tell them, their own scientists don’t know. The time for words is over!”. What are you willing to do, to preserve your life on this beautiful world?

I hope you found these lessons useful! If there is something you want to add, or share, feel free to do so in the comments.

Much love,
Hokuma

Food Politics

Local market in Quito
Local market in Quito

Empty stomachs and overflowing landfills. People eating ‘trashy’ fast food, while organic food is rotting away in the waste bins.

What world am I describing? Ours. Why? Because whenever there are politics, money making and mass consumption involved, illogical things become the status quo, while logical ideas become stories belonging to a ‘utopian‘ world.

One billion people are dying from hunger, while our world is producing more than enough for everyone. The only problem is that most of the food we produce is wasted, about 40% of it.

There are various reasons for food waste, some are understandable: lack of weather pattern information, need for better technology, bad infrastructure for transportation in developing countries, but other reasons fall under ‘first world problems’. A bruised apple, a banana that doesn’t meet the right curvature, and those sneaky ‘sell by dates’ created by manufacturers to keep their food moving on grocery shelves.

I’d like to dedicate today’s post to the country of Malaysia. It has been in the news for the past few days as people all over the world try to resolve the mysterious case of the missing MH370 airplane. It is devastating to see so many lives parish anonymously, and  my heart goes out to all the family members who are stuck in limbo, not knowing whether to keep hope for a better ending, or to start making funeral arrangements.

The sad reality is that 239 deaths from this incident doesn’t come close to the millions dying from hunger on a yearly basis. And while there isn’t much we can do to prevent such airplane accidents, there is definitely a LOT we can do to change our current food system to ensure that children and women don’t die from malnutrition.

800px-Oxfam_East_Africa_-_A_mass_grave_for_children_in_DadaabOur food system is a mess, and we need to address factors that will help strengthen our food security. That includes, lowering the carbon impact of our food by cutting down the distance it travels, eating seasonally and organically.

Big companies like Monsanto want us to believe that GMO foods are the only solution to feeding 9 billion people, but that’s just talk. Studies have repeatedly shown that there is no clear evidence that GMO foods provide higher yields, and there is definitely no clear evidence to show that messing with the genetical make up of our food (mixing it with genes of animals in some cases), is safe for our health.

What HAS been proven effective for the past thousands of years of human existence is local farming, eating by the seasons and preserving food for winter times.

In countries like Malaysia, a lot of pristine agricultural land is used for commercial production of crops that are exported to affluent regions and used for animal feeds. Beside that, many poor farmers in developing worlds cannot afford to use conventional techniques, machinery and crops to grow food. Therefore, turning to local and sustainable production of organic food would not only allow farmers to sell healthy produce, but do it in a manner that preserves and keeps their land healthy for future seasons. This means, disadvantaged farmers can protect their land, grow delicious food, improve the health of their community and their own, and if enough is left, sell this organic produce for a better price on the international market.

organic.food.sustainable.future.hunger.9billion.planet.healthy.happyIn December of 2012 there were 96 certified organic farmers in Malaysia. This number is expected to rise as organic and sustainable farming becomes the ‘go to‘ option for many countries. This trend is also visible in Azerbaijan, the country I’m from. Since 2000 more than 2,000 farmers were trained in organic farming and have moved their practices away from conventional methods.

The health of our planet and our people is not an option, it is a vital factor for a sustainable and happy future. It is time that all of us realize this and work towards making this the ‘status quo’. In my next posts I will focus on how individuals can eat healthy without having to pay too much money for it.

If you have any ideas or suggestions to contribute, please feel free to comment or e-mail me. You can also see some suggestions that list the ways companies, consumers and manufacturers can lower their food waste.

Here’s to a healthy and happy life!

Cheers,
Hokuma