City Hippy

The diary of our struggle to live a green and fair life.

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Thursday, May 18, 2006

INTERVIEW: Craig Sams (final)

OK figured I would post the last few questions in one go here is the seventh and final installment ( 1 2 3 4 5 6 ) of our Craig Sams interview series. Find out what inspires Craig, learn about the Craig Sams diet, discover what Craig thinks about Nuclear energy (he gives a great answer), whether he thinks local, organic or fairtrade is more important, some crucial advice for anyone wanting to start a green business and be amazed at what one of the founding fathers of green business is doing next, now that he has become seriously wealthy following the sale of Green & Blacks to Cadbury's. And believe me you would never guess in a thousand years, the time it takes to clean up after our Nuclear selves, maybe, or the time it takes for Tony Blair to find a principle. Which ever comes first. Thousand years it is then ;)

CityHippy: Hi again Craig. I would love to know what inspires you to be green?

Craig Sams: Hi Al, well I have grandchildren. Before that, I just wanted a future for myself, I still do, but now I think 100 years ahead, like any good little patriarch.

CityHippy: I hear that I have a son I know just what you mean. What is the one green thing you do that you wish everyone did?

Craig Sams: Eat less, eat organic. I rarely eat animal products, avoid eating between 8 pm and 1 pm the next day and I’m never starving hungry because I’m in charge of my blood sugar, not dependent on regular ingestion of food. I’ve managed to avoid seeing a doctor for 40 years, am in good health and enjoy food immensely. If everyone ate the way I do there’d be plenty of food for everyone and a lot less of society’s resources being consumed by the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry.

CityHippy: Wow! The Sams diet seems harsh but it obviously works for you. I suspect when it comes to food we consume more based on marketing than need. OK potentially contentious one for you now. What way should the UK go in terms of future energy sources: Nuclear, Alternative Energy or both?

Craig Sams: If there is anything that is truly satanic, it is nuclear energy. These liars and crooks who have foisted this dangerous technology on us should be impaled for their crime against humanity. What if the Romans 2000 years ago had discovered nuclear power and left us with the burden of having to keep an eye on the deadly waste that they left behind so that they could leave the lights on all night and live in buildings that are overheated in winter and overcooled in summer? The legacy of the nuclear industry is going to kill us all and all other life forms on this planet eventually, it’s just a question of when, not whether. If I ruled the world we’d all eat wholefood vegetarian and all our spare resources would go into propelling the waste into outer space and closing down every nuclear plant as a matter of urgency. In other words, I think alternative energy systems are preferable.

CityHippy: Brilliant answer. Wow! Although not keen on the blasting into space option. OK which is most important to you: Organic, local or fairtrade?

Craig Sams: They are all part of the same thing: sustainable.

CityHippy: Fair point. Thought-provoking. I tend to agree but for me the order is: Local, organic then fairtrade. OK something more practical now. What advice do you have for those seeking to start a green business?

Craig Sams: Go for it. Make sure you have twice as much money as the business plan projects that you’ll need. You’ll find that you are competing with likeminded souls – it’s always a bit tricky when you’re all driven by the same ideals but find your heart leaps up when your competitor is struggling. There are times when collaboration is possible – it’s a lot harder to do than competition, because it means sacrificing control, but always look for those possibilities. The wholefood industry was a magnet for all the entrepreneurs that hippiedom created – too many hardworking people chasing too little money – the result was that the industry as a whole suffered because the growth dynamic was undermined by nobody making enough money – when the big guys moved in they all lost out.

CityHippy: Invaluable advice. Makes sense having a sensible approach on top of ethical principles works best in the long run. It is a business after all and needs to grow to survive. Interesting. So after achieving all that you have achieved whats next for Craig Sams?

Craig Sams: Well, we’ve got Judges Bakery, a 100% organic bakery and food store here in Hastings. We do white bread, tea cakes, bakewell tarts, jam tarts, all the usual high street bakery stuff, but all organic. Then we’ve added sourdough wholemeal and rye breads, croissants, brownies and kipper rolls as well as our existing sausage rolls and pasties. We sell local organic vegetables, meat and dairy products and a full range of organic lines. Nothing we sell is not organic, so for the organic customer there is no shop in the country to touch it. We’re looking at how to expand it – people come in from other towns and say “I wish there was a shop like this where I live.”

CityHippy: Great...I can see it now. A chain of devolved but connected permanent farmers market shops in towns. Brilliant. As Farmers Markets become more popular people want to shop in them more regularly. And with Wholefoods landing in the UK in 2007 you seem to be ahead of the curve if you can capitalise on the idea fast. All the best Craig and thanks for the interview.

Craig Sams: Thanks Al. Good luck to you too.

So much goodness in what Craig says...I have a feeling we will be seeing much more of him on our high streets soon. I feel like I have had a conversation with a sort of positive green tornado :)

I would like to thank Craig for his candour over this fascinating interview series. I am honoured to have been able to discuss these issues with him. He remains, along with John Mackey of Whole Foods Market fame, and Dame Anita Roddick (I know I know) an original green business pioneer. We have much to thank him (them) for. Namaste Craig.



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