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How Tessa Clarke and OLIO are tackling the food waste crisis

OLIO was born out of a ‘pathological hatred’ of food waste. Instead of waste, Tessa Clarke tells Andy Martin, we should share

Tuesday 04 May 2021 11:09
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<p>Clarke and Celestial-One set up OLIO after becoming friends at Stanford University </p>

Clarke and Celestial-One set up OLIO after becoming friends at Stanford University

T

essa Clarke didn’t just ride a horse when she was growing up – she rode a pig and a cow too. And a sheep called “Sheepy” who (just like the sheep in your dream) was good at jumping fences. She lived on a farm in the Yorkshire Dales. It was here that she acquired her “pathological hatred of food waste” – or, indeed, wasting anything else – that has now crytallised in her “sharing” app, OLIO.

Her mother was intent on saving an ancient breed of pig, the Oxford sandy and black, from extinction. “Watch those pigs,” she would tell her daughter, “and let me know when they start having sex.” Tessa Clarke and her brothers were put to work as soon as they were old enough to carry a bucket. “Our parents had no qualms about child labour,” she says. “You learn problem-solving and resilience growing up on a farm.”

After graduating in social and political sciences at Cambridge, she knew one thing: “I knew I didn’t want to become a farmer.” She’d done that. But when she looked at democracies around the world and in particular the rising power of the tech giants, she was conscious that “for every intended consequence there is a whole raft of unintended consequences.” It was this fundamental conviction that led her in the direction of OLIO.

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