In 2010, Jenny Dawson started going to New Spitalfields Market in East London and learned that the wholesale market discarded roughly 250 tonnes of excess fruit and vegetables each week (or 13,000 tonnes per year). Wanting to do something about the unnecessary waste of perfectly good produce as well as provide jobs to impoverished women in the city, Dawson soon left her job at a hedge fund to start Rubies in the Rubble with her friend Sophie Gore-Browne.
Using the surplus fruit and vegetables from New Spitalfields Market and old family recipes, Rubies in the Rubble makes and sells high quality chutney while empowering underprivileged Londoners through employment. Dawson explains the reason behind the name Rubies in the Rubble, “[It’s about] finding great things that are often discarded by society and putting them to use.”
At present, the company offers four flavors of chutney – Pear & Walnut, Apple & Ginger, Red Onion & Berry, and Tomato & Spice – and makes around 200 jars a week. Dawson and her team whip up the chutney in kitchens rented from organizations around town and then sell them online, at Borough Market, and at high end delis.
Dawson plans to expand Rubies in the Rubble to include more chutney flavors, as well as jams, cordials, and other edibles in their product range. “This is just the very start,” she says. And she’s not worried about running short of ingredients, as there is a wholesale market in every city in the UK. Plus, they haven’t even approached the farms yet. “In the UK, we waste 16 million tonnes of food every year.”
The city of London is now helping Rubies in the Rubble set up its own kitchen. Dawson would love to see a Rubies in the Rubble kitchen for every wholesale market in the UK. “To you, this might just be a jar of chutney, but to me, it’s a solution.”