As passionate foodies, we never miss a chance to talk to other like-minded people. This time it’s Mónica Kisic. Born in Peru, she is an advocate of zero waste culture. And she exemplifies this with her own company, Roots Radicals. She not only avoids food waste, but also conjures up delicious new creations from rescued food and mostly unused components of fruit and vegetables. We met Mónica in Berlin – learn more about her motivations and activities in our inspiring interview!
Founder Mónica Kisic
Salvatore Alaimo (SA): Mónica, you are driving the zero waste movement. What drives you?
Mónica Kisic (MK): I firmly believe that a circular economy is the best solution to our environmental problems. That’s why I want to inspire and motivate more people to change their consumption habits. As a foodie, I start with what is especially close to my heart: Food.
Food is more than just a need. It gives us strength and energy and is part of our culture and community. But I have the feeling that for many people the connection to food and its components has been lost. This is evident in consumption, and it is also evident in the appalling amounts of food that are wasted. I want to do something about that.
My desire is to motivate others to be more conscious about food. I show them how they can prepare delicious and sometimes surprising meals from leftovers and even from supposed waste. In this way, everyone can actively support the change to a circular society.
SA: In 2019, you founded Roots Radicals together with your brother Nicolás. What exactly do you do?
MK: We rescue food and prepare waste-free, long-lasting products from it. To do this, we are constantly developing new recipes to use by-products such as cauliflower leaves, apple cores and peels. It’s unbelievable how much flavour there is in them! Whether sauces, soups, vinegars, spices or fermented products like kimchi – the variety is huge and we use the full potential of the fruit or vegetable.
In addition, we also pass on our knowledge. We regularly organise workshops, give lectures and are involved in the zero-waste scene. In this way, others also learn to reduce waste and reconceive it as a fruitful source of inspiration. We are happy about a growing community.
SA: Fermenting is a real trendy topic at the moment. How did you discover this for yourself?
MK: I have a scientific background: I have a doctorate in molecular biology. For that reason alone, I am fascinated by chemical processes. And fermentation is nothing else.
Apart from that, fermenting is a wonderful way to preserve food. Tradition with zeitgeist!
SA: Where do you get your inspiration from?
MK: From the products and from my curiosity and love of experimenting. I come from Peru and have travelled a lot, worked in many kitchens and trained in different areas. All of this inspires me and I love combining flavours to create new tastes. So I would describe our products as seasonal, regional and multicultural – with a big portion of care, time and love.
SA: How did you come up with the idea for Roots Radicals?
MK: After my scientific education, I turned to professional cooking. In this context, I dealt with the topic of bread as part of my master’s thesis and worked as a cook at the same time. In the process, I noticed how unbelievably much food ended up wasted. That really shocked me. I realized that I had to do something about it. That’s when the idea for Roots Radicals was born. So many foods can be saved and preserved by combining traditional and new preparations.
Take a Look into a Roots Radicals Workshop
SA: Where do you get your food from?
MK: We have various suppliers who provide us with products from very different stages of the value chain. From Querfeld, for example, we get organic fruit and vegetables from farms that don’t meet the beauty standards of the supermarkets. SPRK.Global supplies us with fruit and vegetables that mainly come from the end of the supply chain, which sometimes includes non-regional products. We have been working closely with the Supercoop supermarket here in Berlin from the very beginning; here the idea of a cycle is also very well demonstrated. We get their unsold bread, make special breadcrumbs out of it and then put them back on the shelves there.
Sometimes we also have exotic ingredients. This is ensured by Gebana as a supplier of organic food from global fair trade, who cooperate closely directly with farmers in Brazil, Togo, Tunisia, Burkina Faso or Palestine, for example. Overall, 40 to 90 percent of our products are made from rescued food.
SA: Where can we buy your products?
MA: If you live in Berlin, you can visit us on Saturdays at the weekly market in Markthalle Neun. Besides Supercoop, other shops also have us in their assortment, so far 16 in Berlin.
Stay tuned for part 2 of the interview!
If you’re on the lookout for Roots Radicals products in Berlin, feel free to pay us a visit at our office and talk to us about how we can avoid food waste. For those who don’t live in Berlin: Roots Radicals also has an online shop – and we’ll be happy to show you our solution as an online demo.