UCSF Sustainability Stories

Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact, November 2016

Peasant Pies:  Serving Up a Sustainable Meal

Peasant Pies opened at UCSF Mission Bay in 2008, serving up tasty pies that are filled with fresh vegetables, poultry, beef, or seafood. Ali Keshavarz, co-founder of Peasant Pies®, is committed to offering affordable, healthy, and convenient food.  The four pillars of Peasant Pies are:  nutrition, environment, taste, and accessibility.

With a degree in organic chemistry, Ali was working in the food business when he noticed a gap:  the lack of healthy fast food. He calls his food ‘fast casual’. But it also is sustainable, incorporating local food sourcing, emphasizing accessibility when it comes to pricing, and reducing waste, as well as being served up in a store that incorporates sustainable design principles.

The pies are made by hand and sell for $3.85 each, less than what some pay in San Francisco for a coffee. The concept is green because the pies are designed to eat by hand—no fork nor plate is required. Which equates to less waste. “Why use a fork, which you will throw away?” asked Ali. pie

Peasant Pies opened at UCSF Mission Bay in 2008 and had the unique opportunity at this location to incorporate green into the design of the facility.  Their sustainability manifesto states, “Our UCSF Mission Bay store is a testimony to our dedication to going green and reducing our carbon footprint.”  Some of the sustainable practices incorporated into the design of the store include:

  • Most of their furniture, including tables and benches, is made from salvaged lumber that is over 100 years old.
  • The laminate covering their cabinets is made with non-toxic recycled banana leaves.
  • The store has many large floor-to-ceiling windows that receive southern exposures with enormous heat. An eco-friendly laminate was used to reduce the light and heat exposure by more than 73%.
  • The interior was painted with low volatile compound (VOC) paint.

Here are the other things Peasant Pies is doing to promote environmental and sustainable food practices in its productions and operations:

  • All pies are handmade daily in the inner Sunset neighborhood of San Francisco.
  • Some of the ingredients of the pies are organic.
  • They offer a discount for coffee drinkers who bring their own cup. Their coffee is from Due Torri, a fair trade, organic, local Oakland-based roaster.
  • The majority of ingredients are sourced within 50-miles.

Ali has made a few sacrifices to stay true to his concept.  For example, if his meat and vegetables were all organic, he would have to more than double his current price and he wants to keep the pies accessible to those on an ordinary income. And his formula is paying off. The company employs 20, has three locations including Mission Bay, and also sells wholesale to Rainbow Grocery and Whole Foods as well as directly to tech companies through ZeroCater.

Photo Sources:  San Francisco Business Times, Peasant Pies