Sep 29, 2020
There are parts of our interview with Errol Schweizer that might make a few listeners uncomfortable. He knows this, and he’s fine with it. To confront issues of systemic racism, labor inequality and cannabis reform and how they are affecting the food and beverage industry, Schweizer, a veteran food industry insider, trendsetter and entrepreneur, believes that people will need to hear some unsettling stories and statistics. As disconcerting as they are, his goal is to motivate action and change, which is one of the primary reasons that Schweizer co-founded “The Checkout,” a podcast that spotlights diverse voices and stories from across the industry and discusses solutions to create a more just, equitable and resilient food system.
Schweizer draws upon his 25-plus year career in the food industry, which includes a decade as the vice president of grocery for Whole Foods where he brought dozens of innovative and disruptive brands to market. Within his role, he helped expand availability of Non-GMO and organic products, advanced fair labor standards and championed the benefits of sustainable agriculture. Since leaving Whole Foods in 2016, he’s been an active advisor to and director of food companies and retailers, including Good Catch, Fairway Market and Good Eggs. He is also a passionate advocate for the legalization and safe use of cannabis, and sits on the board of dispensary chain MedMen and is a co-founder of cannabis-infused beverage brand mood33.
As part of our interview, Schweizer spoke about how he evaluates opportunities to align with food and beverage companies, why he once received death threats at Whole Foods for expanding access to a food category and his belief that entrepreneurs behind cannabis-based CPG brands should understand the direct association between the war on drugs, systemic racism and their products. He also explained why he advocates for a $20 minimum wage, the importance of unions in protecting workers, particularly during the pandemic, and how his values and belief system are incorporated into his role as a host for “The Checkout.”
0:39: Interview: Errol Schweizer, Co-Founder/Host, “The Checkout” -- Schweizer spoke with Taste Radio editor Ray Latif about what he misses most about “normal life,” how the pandemic has led to new and positive forms of interconnectivity, why he credits hard work and luck to landing a top role at Whole Foods and the “filters” that dictate his decision to partner with a company or organization. He also discussed why investors of cannabis-based brands must acknowledge and address the impact of the war on drugs on Black Americans and why he advocates for hazard pay and a livable wage for low-wage workers. Later, he spoke about the inspiration behind “The Checkout” and its target audience, how he’s curating content for the podcast and how he teaches his values to his children.