Meghan Dear

Top 40 Under 40 2016

Photography Curtis Comeau

Age: 36

Job Title: CEO, Localize

Why She’s Top 40: She’s empowering consumers by helping them learn where their food comes from.

Guilty Pleasure: “Wine and cheese. On their own, together, melted, incorporated into sauces – both of them.

Meghan Dear is the CEO, but you won’t find her alone in an office. She works among her staff at a cluttered desk in the one-big-room Localize office in the hip Mercer Warehouse.

“Problems get solved in the middle of things,” she says. “There’s definitely space to collaborate, and no walls.”

She grew up without walls, too, splitting her childhood between her mom’s commercial greenhouse and her dad’s market garden. “We grew up watching work happen – you see the culmination of your efforts every day.”

Dear, 36, inherited her parents’ hard-working farmer genes. She was an army reservist while earning her degree and has worked in agriculture in places as far-flung as Ghana – and Vegreville.

Along the way, she learned about the food system’s shortcomings.

“The big niggling thing for me was, I wanted to know where my food was coming from. A country wasn’t quite good enough. I wanted more specificity.”

Her gold standard was her dad, who sold his wares at farmers’ markets. “There was so much clarity about where his food came from.” Crucially, his customers felt empowered to ask.

With her five-year-old company, Localize, she’s giving consumers that power. The company supplies grocery stores with smart labels for food, with specific details about origin and QR codes to scan. It’s also growing as a sophisticated data aggregator working with credible food certifiers such as Ocean Wise and Fairtrade Canada.

Dear loves local food, but she’s not dogmatic about it. “I like to buy local because I like the story, I like knowing the name of who produced it. It’s more transparent.

“I think that is a small source of joy.”

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