John Finger: How Hog Island Oyster Co. Balances Social, Environmental, and Financial Performance

Next Economy Now highlights the leaders who are taking a regenerative, bio-regional, democratic, transparent, and whole-systems approach to solving social and environmental challenges.

The goal of this podcast is to identify the trends, tips, and best practices that will help listeners better harness the power of business as a force for good.

In this episode, Ryan Honeyman, a Partner at LIFT Economy, interviews John Finger, Cofounder and CEO of Hog Island Oyster Company (the world’s first “bay to bar” shellfish company to certify as a B Corp).

In 1983, John Finger and Terry Sawyer, two young marine biologists, borrowed $500 from their families and planted oyster seed on a five-acre lease in Tomales Bay, CA. They began with the aim of growing the highest quality, local Pacific oysters for San Francisco’s half-shell market.

Today, Hog Island Oyster Co. leases one hundred and sixty acres in Tomales Bay, CA and sells over 5 million oysters, Manila clams and mussels per year. The company operates restaurants in San Francisco and Napa and an outdoor oyster bar, picnic tables, and retail shop at their farm in Marshall.

The company is known for creating a culture of people who care about their communities, their environment, and the customers they serve. Hog Island calls this their ‘Bay to Bar’ philosophy –every step, and every person, plays an equally important role in setting and meeting the company’s high standards for great food and great service.

In this interview, Ryan and John discuss a number of topics, including:

  • Why John and the Hog Island team decided to take on outside investors

  • How the company attracts and retains high-performing, mission-aligned staff in an industry with high turnover

  • The climate benefits of shellfish

  • The benefits of becoming a Certified B Corp

  • Hog Island Oyster Company’s 100 year vision for the future

  • And much more

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Ryan Honeyman is a Partner at LIFT Economy and author of The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good (Berrett-Koehler Publishers). LIFT Economy is an impact consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @honeymanconsult or email him ryan@lifteconomy.com.