Faith Worked Out: Jenny Costa
We are so thrilled to be sharing this interview with Jenny Costa, Founder of Rubies in the Rubble. This is the first time we've had real discussion on More Precious about being conscious of our waste, the way we treat God's world and the food we eat. We love Jenny's honesty, her heart for justice and her get-things-done attitude - and we know you will too! X
Book on my bedside table: I have a little pile - on there is my Bible and at the top, a surfing book - my new hobby though I'm pretty hopeless!
My coffee order is: Black Americano.
£10 treat: Cinema or a manicure.
Song I listen to on repeat: King Charles: Loose Change for the Boatman. Actually I love his whole new album Gamble of a Rose.
Most underrated virtue: Kindness
1. Tell us about 'Rubies in the Rubble' and how you worked out what God put on your heart in relation to food waste?
In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. (Proverbs 16:9)
God talks to people in such different ways. For me its often through my gut - giving me a complete peace and conviction on an idea even if it seems bonkers to the outside world.
The idea for Rubies in the Rubble came after a very early morning visit to a wholesale fruit and veg market on my bike one frosty day in November 2010. I fell in love with it - such a diverse range of people living by night and sleeping by day; a world of farmers, wholesalers, restaurant owners and market sellers trading anything from durians to Brussels sprouts.
But just along from the bustle of the traders were the piles of unwanted fruit and veg - mange tout from Kenya, mangoes from the Philippines, tomatoes from Turkey, cranberries from California which bypassed the bustle of traders and headed straight for the bin! And what really saddened me was that much of these, though potentially with a short shelf life, were perfectly edible!
It got me thinking about the impossibility of matching supply and demand when you have unpredictable weather, unpredictable humans and supermarkets that provide everything in plentiful piles throughout the year.
I couldn't stop thinking about how can we be this wasteful whilst 1 billion people go without food in our world. At the same time, I was reminded of a Bible verse which two different people prayed over me, where we see Esther in the Bible being used by God as a voice in the community. Then in Jan 2011 I went to an amazing church service on the challenge of seeing the world through God's eyes. This really hit a chord and stuck with me. I wanted to celebrate all of his creation and appreciate his abundance and I wanted to create a product that was going to symbolise this: hidden Rubies in the Rubble.
I had to act and there the idea was! A premium food brand making delicious products from fruit and vegetables that would otherwise be discarded, to raise awareness about the need to value our food resources and dream for a world that feeds everyone on the planet.
2. Tell us more about the problem of food waste, and the impact is has on our world.
Today, approximately 1/3 of all food produced on our planet is wasted representing 3.3 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emitted from its production. In the UK 20-40% of all fruit and vegetables are wasted before they reach the shop shelf.
Food waste is created throughout the supply chain for different reasons making it a very hard problem to tackle. For developing countries, it involves looking at infrastructure to improve storage, transportation and communication around supply and demand / availability of markets. However, in developed countries, a big part of the problem is simply our attitude towards food – we need to start seeing food as a precious, natural resource that needs to be enjoyed and treasured.
If consumers changed their attitudes, this would have an effect throughout the supply chain. For example, waste occurs at farms for 2 reasons: supply and demand imbalances and failed aesthetic standards. Farmers are caught between unpredictable growing conditions and unpredictable consumer demands. Weather and growing conditions also affect the size and shape of the fruit, and while we can't control the weather, we can help by buying produce in season and in all shapes and sizes.
Educating the consumer, lowering retailers specifications on size, shape and colour for produce, can make a big impact in preventing crop being wasted unnecessarily.
Rubies in the Rubble’s message is to treasure our resources and see all food as something precious & to be treasured, to be eaten and celebrated. We believe we need to start valuing our food chain better for the sustainability of our resources and our future food supply.
3. How can girls like us make a difference in our everyday lives to help prevent food wastage?
Value what you have and think more about what you discard and the resources that went into getting it to you. Shop consciously and buy as much food as possible that is in season.
4. What does a typical day look like for you, and how do you try to keep God at the centre of day-to-day life?
I've recently got married and so now start my day reading the bible with my husband which is fun! We take in turn to make tea and then we normally read a chapter a day and talk about it and how it is relevant to our lives before a prayer. We are currently reading Joshua. I then cycle into work and get cracking with work which varies daily.
Starting my day like this - with God's word - has really helped me to keep connected throughout the day. I'm definitely nowhere near perfect and I go my own way a lot but it helps me to try to keep him in the centre of my day, and praying for his strength and guidance in times of need.
I love doing talks or pitches for work as it pushes me right out of my comfort zone. It forces me to pray that God will use me and give me thewords to best connect and help those I'm talking too. I know I couldn't do a talk or presentation without him - I've tried and it was a complete flop!
5. When life is busy and challenges come your way, how do you re-focus and find rest with God?
If I have the time and I really can't think or it all seems too much, I love taking a rug, wrap up warm and finding a quiet spot outside to lie down for some quiet time. Asking for God's help and reminding myself that it is all his - his timing and his plan for my life - really helps. God's got it and all I can do is my best.
I love these verses:
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
6. Finally, how would you encourage girls who are a bit of a crossroads in their life, or about to face new challenges at school/university/work, and are looking to serve God passionately but are unsure of the best way to do this?
Firstly, God's with you wherever and whatever you do and will use you and love you regardless of where or what you do. But if you know something is on your heart then I believe you just have to give it a go! If it's a business or product, start small, test the idea and if it seems possible, you may as well give it your best shot and then if all fails, at least you tried! And it really doesn't matter if you fail, you can just try another thing - having learnt a lot about why it didn't succeed.
You are not defined by your financial success or social status. You are loved unconditionally without needing to prove yourself. Fear of failure or what others may think is a huge barrier that can stop people starting something on their heart that has the potential to be truly amazing.
Thank you Jenny for your time and your wisdom - we are inspired by your energy and passion for stewarding God's world in a way that glorifies Him!
You can check out Rubies in the Rubble by heading over to www.rubiesintherubble.com, and looking out for their products in stores near you!