Dan Simons, Co-Owner of the Farmers Restaurant Group and Co-Founder of their flagship restaurant Founding Farmers, will be speaking at the Washington D.C. Food Tank Summit, “Cultivating the Next Generation of Young Food Leaders.” A lifelong restaurateur, Simons is an effective and inspiring team leader with a knack for creative management and staff development, focused on delivering profitability through innovative branding. He and his business partner Michael Vucurevich co-founded Founding Farmers in 2008 in partnership with the North Dakota Farmers Union to raise consumer awareness around sustainable agriculture while also creating a more profitable market for independent farmers.

Food Tank spoke with Simons about his work promoting sustainable, socially-conscious practices in the restaurant industry and his hopes for the future of American agriculture.

FT: How are you helping to build a better food system?

DS: We are pioneering a new business model where farmers receive a larger share of the food dollar, the supply chain is dramatically shortened, ingredients are actually natural foods, and we prioritize mission over profit

FT: What’s the most pressing issue in food and agriculture that you’d like to see solved?

DS: We need more young farmers. If we don’t reverse the trend of the aging independent farmer population, it won’t matter what we hope for because only corporate producers remain.

FT: What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?

DS: Stop using plastic straws; insist on paper straws or no straws at all. Every time you eat out, ask for the chef or manager and ask a question about the source of the product or about the ingredients. It forces the industry to pay attention, and this can change the buying habits of restaurants.

Read the full article about a better business model for sustainable farming by Elliott Brennan at Food Tank.