Tamara Arbib - Rebel Kitchen
Meet Tamara Arbib - Rebel Kitchen
Rebel Kitchen was born in 2014 from two passionate foodies who wanted to redefine health through food, business and beyond. Tamara Arbib shares her story and tells us why they choose to start an organic business.
Tell us about you – who are you, what’s your mission and how did you get started?
I’m Tamara Arbib, the co-founder of Rebel Kitchen which was established by my husband and I in 2014.
Our passion for health, food and sustainability first manifested itself through our charity; the A Team Foundation. We realized relatively quickly that trying to effect change through charitable routes would be slow and difficult. We recognized that if we really wanted to shift the dial in a faster way, we needed to also approach these issues from the business side of the table – to make positive change from the inside…and Rebel Kitchen was born.
Our mission is to redefine health through food, business and beyond. Rebel Kitchen is here change our approach to health – what constitutes health, the way food is made and how businesses operate within the food space. It’s a different kind of health message – one that doesn’t separate the individual from the whole, and one that is based on actions instead of preaching.
To me, real food is organic food. Pure and simple. It’s how mother nature makes it.
Why is organic so important to you and why did you want to be certified by the Soil Association?
Michael Pollan, a very smart food writer, put it so right when he said, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”. When he says food, he means non-processed, non-refined, REAL food. To me, real food is organic food. Pure and simple. It’s how mother nature makes it.
In terms of why the Soil Association, I have so much respect for the SA and for what it is doing for the organic movement. Without the Soil Association, we’d be in a very different space with respect to the Organic food movement in this country.
What is your biggest achievement to date as a business?
That we are still here! Haha. Business is tough! 1 in 10 businesses fail and three years on, we are still standing. With a vision like ours, every day that we are here redefining how businesses operate within the food space, how employees are treated and supported, and continuing to deliver products and a philosophy that help people along their journey to a healthier version of themselves, we are succeeding!
What are you working on at the moment and what are your ambitions for the future?
We have a deep-rooted pledge to sustainable business practices. Our ambition is for Rebel Kitchen to operate in a way that is sustainable as possible, creating a positive feedback system within everything we do.
This year we became a Certified B Corporation, so that we could stand up and be proudly measured against the highest standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. Oh, and it helps solve the world’s social and environmental problems too, which we think is pretty awesome!
We are also a 1% For the Planet Member which it puts our money where our mouth is by helping us give back to charitable causes. We’ve pledged to donate at least 1% of our sales to nonprofit partners vetted for participation in the 1% for the Planet network. We will be giving out our first 1% grants in April 2018 to environmentally based projects.
What do you think are the biggest issues facing our food systems?
Global food production is a highly complex system. We are now seeing many extremely alarming symptoms from this system that seem to point to a core which is fundamentally flawed. Environmentally we are seeing extreme loss of biodiversity on the land, air and sea, pesticide and agricultural chemicals causing ecosystem toxicity, soil erosion and degradation. And from a humanitarian perspective we are faced with exploitation of agricultural workers, declining number of farmers on the land and a lack of equal access to healthy food…the list goes on. Most of the problems in this system stem from one essential issue: political influence, land and wealth is in the hands of a few and this can mean profit trumps compassion, health, environmental stewardship and the interconnectivity of all life on this earth is forgotten.
What’s next for you your business?
We’re constantly trying to innovate in the dairy free space. We’ve just launched a product that’s like no other in the milk alternative category with the introduction of Mylk, a large format plant based drink that tastes just like real dairy which will be rolling out into stores from the middle of summer. Not only does it taste like dairy milk, but it can be shopped in the same way too, in whole, semi skimmed and skimmed variants, making it an easy switch for dairy drinkers. The definition of a ‘Rebel’ is to ‘question the norm’ and that is exactly what we’re doing with Mylk. We’ve all grown up shopping the milk aisle based on our preference for the red, green or blue tops. Then when entering the plant based arena, the only options were single ingredient ‘traditional’ flavours like almond or soya…but none of them were really delivering on taste – until now.
If you could only switch to one organic item what would it be and why?
I know it’s a cheat because it’s more than 1 thing but I would switch for all things on what’s called the dirty dozen list. These are: strawberry, spinach, nectarines, apples, peaches, pears, cherries, grapes, celery, tomatoes, sweet peppers, potatoes, chillies. Being even more cheeky, there is an extended list here.
As you can see, eating organic (as much as possible, where possible) is important to me!
Who inspires you?
I’m inspired literally by everyone around me. What I find beautiful about this world is how different and individual we all are and how each and every one of us has something completely unique to offer to the world. I was once told that if you are open to it, every person you meet or pass has something to teach you.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
I recently went to Tanzania and was lucky enough to really learn local culture. In Swahili there is a saying, “pole, pole” (pronounced polay, polay) which means “slowly, slowly”. Usually slow and me don’t go well together - but it’s 100% the way forward. When you go slow, you can really feel your way through life. When you rush, you make mistakes… and going slow allows you to really enjoy the journey and process of life. It’s all too short as it is!
Hear from some of our other organic heroesRead their stories
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- Meet Our Farming Heroes
- Meet Our Food & Drink Heroes
- Meet Our Beauty & Wellbeing Heroes
- Meet Our Fashion & Textiles Heroes
- Jonathan Smith of Scilly Organics
- Abi Weeds, co-founder of Odylique
- Jane Shepherd, founder of Pigeon Organic
- Stephanie McIntosh - Fou Furnishings
- Cathi Pawson - Zaytoun
- Rhug Organic