7 questions with Bold Bean Co founder, Amelia Christie-Miller
Why have we been ignoring the most affordable, accessible and carbon-friendly source of protein for all this time?
Bold Bean Co burst onto the sustainable food scene very recently, with one core mission: make beans cool again. We spoke to the company’s founder about why we’ve been thinking about them in the wrong wrong all this time – and why they’re a key part of a green food system and diet.
Why do you believe we need to embrace beans to eat more sustainably?
Beans are the most climate-friendly food we have, and they're being overlooked by mainstream food culture. Our soils are degrading - beans help nourish and protect them. Temperatures are rising and populations growing. The most affordable, most widely accessible and carbon-friendly source of protein is beans! The problem is, they're not cool... yet.
Tell us about your previous work in the food sustainability space. What did you learn there?
My background is in foodtech. At Foodchain [where Miller was Head of Sales and Marketing] we were working to build more transparency into the supply chain and empower small suppliers. We were working with top London restaurants like Lyle's and Spring and some of the most passionate food producers we have in this country. These are the thought leaders in food and the land that they grow on - I learned a lot about regenerative agriculture, soil health, and food security, all the while falling deeper in love with beans and how they can solve the problems we face.
What principles did you follow in designing and growing your brand?
Hilariously, I was trying to make my brand FAR 'cooler' to appeal to a younger market - calling it "humble" as a nod to Kendrick Lamar and making sure all the copy would be lower case on pack to be 'chill'. Two minutes trying to write some text for this tone, I desperately failed. Being cool did not come naturally to me. So with building the brand, I then looked to bring to life the "full of beans" enthusiasm I have for beans to come from a genuine standpoint - it's made it far easier!
There are a real wealth of exciting plant-based food brands out there at the moment. How does it feel to be operating in that market, and is there anything you think is still lacking?
There is so much innovation in big food meat-free. But besides these products being ultra-processed and terrible for health, they're a capitalist response to the problem.
High-tech formulas and mysterious ingredients mean that there are huge margins to be made by keeping these secretive and expensive.
We're taking a different approach. We hope that by starting a movement of bean loving, we'll trigger a trickle-down of bean eating whatever your budget allows. Because beans - whether cooked to perfection in a fancy jar or soaked and simmered from dried on your hob - are available to everyone. They're just not cool.
How can we encourage people and societies to eat in a more environmentally friendly way?
Whilst working in foodtech, I was hearing so much about how technology was going to fix our food system. But the wrong companies get funded to grow.
While I was waiting patiently for blockchain traceability and supply chains to be fixed, I saw the movement of Oatly transform consumer behaviour; it got blokes I never would have dreamed of going dairy-free proudly holding an oat milk carton. I truly believe that brands can change the world by getting people to see things differently. That's what we want to do.
What kind of change do we need to see to our food system overall to meet climate targets?
For me, the food system is completely governed by our consumer culture. So we need to change the desires of the people before we can change the food system. It's all very well growing fields and fields of beautiful British bean varieties to build resilience and soil health, but if the end product is fed to livestock we really aren't going to get anywhere.
Change starts with where we spend our cash.
What does success look like for you and Bold Bean Co?
My dream would be for Bold Bean to start a movement of bean-loving. I'd like every household in the UK to be consuming beans at least three times a week by 2030.