At just 24 years old, Patrick Mateer has already been named one Forbes' top 30 social entrepreneurs under 30 years old. His company, Seal the Seasons, is dedicated to making healthy, local food readily available all year round. The idea was born out of a simple disconnect between farmers and consumers. "When I was in college at the University of North Carolina, I volunteered all four years with a hunger relief nonprofit called Farmer Foodshare, which connects food-insecure people with local farmers who have excess produce," he explains. "When I worked there, I met a ton of consumers who said it was hard for them to afford the right food for their families. At the same time, I heard from a lot of farmers that growing the food was one thing, but getting it to customers was another. Farmers needed a partner to connect them to people who wanted their food."
Seal the Seasons is revolutionizing the freezer aisle by stocking it with food straight from the surrounding region. Right now, both frozen and fresh produce comes from all over the world—Chile, Mexico, Serbia, Turkey, Egypt, and more. This has far-reaching implications both economically and environmentally, as a bag of say, strawberries, would have to travel thousands of miles (consuming fossil fuel the whole way) to end up in a grocery cart in North Carolina. "Transparency is the most important thing about our product. Each bag says where it’s from in huge letters right across the front, whether it's North Carolina or Florida or New York or New Jersey," says Mateer. "Knowing where your food comes from helps you reduce your carbon footprint and know where your money is going. Everyone can play a role in making local food choices to reduce greenhouse gases. We believe buying local is important to keep money in our community and keep local family farms in business."