The Key to Improving Our Climate? Safeguard What’s Right Under Your Feet!
By Jeff Moyer, Rodale Institute CEO
In 2021, we are faced with a choice: Do we continue the path of climate degradation or take bold steps towards change?
One of those bold steps has been under our feet all along: regenerative organic agriculture.
Rodale Institute has been researching regenerative organic farming for over 70 years, and recently published a white paper inviting us all to take action. The science documents that if we were to implement regenerative practices on all global crop and grazing land, we could sequester more than 100% of our annual carbon dioxide emissions. This is the single most important step we can take.
The science is simple, using the process of photosynthesis to capture carbon in the atmosphere and relocate it to the soil. Regenerative organic agriculture has a unique ability to trap carbon underground in the soil. Using practices like cover cropping, no-till management, and well-managed livestock grazing, in addition to eliminating the use of synthetic chemicals and fertilizers, this method of farming improves the health of the soil and its ability to store carbon.
Through practices like tilling and heavy chemical use, conventional agriculture damages the soil-microbiome, stripping it of the bacteria, microbes, and fungi critical to the sequestration process.
In addition to acting as a carbon sink, regenerative organic farms boast benefits such as improved human health, cleaner water, improved biodiversity, and more. Organic farming has also proven to be more profitable for farmers. Changing how we grow food is a win-win-win for the climate, farmers, and our health.
The benefits are obvious. So why isn’t it being prioritized? In 2020, regenerative organic agriculture finally reached the national policy stage—but it still has a long way to go. Getting policymakers, farmers, and consumers to see regenerative organic agriculture as a tool in their climate change toolbox takes education, outreach, and trailblazers willing to push the envelope.
To ease the path to a stable climate, we must help farmers implement these regenerative organic practices where possible on their farms. That’s why Rodale Institute initiated our farmer consulting service, where trained agronomists and horticulturalists advise and assist farmers looking to transition any portion of their acreage to organic and regenerative organic practices that can help sequester carbon.
Eaters also must play a role by putting the pressure on brands to take regenerative organic seriously as a climate solution, and reward those who do so—like those that carry the Regenerative Organic Certified (ROC) label. Products bearing this high-bar certification are grown with the highest regenerative organic standards for soil health, animal welfare, and farmworker fairness on the market today. By purchasing ROC-labelled products, consumers encourage other brands to enter the regenerative organic supply chain.
We don’t have the luxury of leaving a valuable climate mitigation strategy on the table. We must use every solution at our disposal.
2021 is a chance to do things differently. Let’s not waste it.
Jeff Moyer is the CEO of Rodale Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to growing the regenerative organic movement through research, farmer training, and consumer education. To learn more about Rodale Institute’s work on climate change and to download the newest white paper, visit RodaleInstitute.org/Climate2020.
It’s Time to Implement Real Change: Bring BIPOC into the CPG Arena
By Ibraheem Basir, Founder & CEO, A Dozen Cousins
What drew me to the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) industry was the opportunity to work on products that are used by people every day. Even “small” brands are purchased by thousands to feed their families, care for their skin and so much more. It’s so important that the teams behind these products reflect the people who use them, but unfortunately, that is not always the case.
Earlier this year, a survey conducted within the Natural Product industry found that People of Color made up only 19% of company boards and 16% of company leadership teams despite making up 40% of the U.S. population. When I saw these numbers in writing, it was a wakeup call to act.
In response to these troubling statistics, I launched Project Potluck alongside founding board members Arnulfo Ventura (CEO of Beanfields) and Ayeshah Abuelhiga (Founder and CEO of Mason Dixie Foods). Project Potluck is a first-of-its-kind professional community with a simple mission: to help People of Color build successful companies and careers in the CPG industry.
Project Potluck has three core programs:
- Year-Long Mentorship: Members are paired with industry veterans to receive guidance, motivation, and support. Mentors are from sales, marketing, operations and finance, investors, and CEOs, and provide a specialized experience for mentees based on interests.
- Community Building Events: Members have the opportunity to network with industry insiders and build bonds with their industry peers.
- Best-In-Class Digital Community: Allows members to share news and make themselves visible to hiring managers, recruiters, and event organizers looking to identify and connect with a diverse pool of candidates.
Throughout my career I have done my best to make whatever space I am in more welcoming and equitable for other People of Color, and I am very proud of the journey we are embarking on and I know my fellow board members feel the same.
“As one of the few Latino entrepreneurs in the natural food and beverage arena, I have struggled to find mentors or peers whose life experiences I could identify with,” said Ventura. “We are determined to implement real change and create a pipeline for BIPOC to succeed and grow within the CPG space.”
Abuelhiga added, “We all realized how often we had to change who we authentically were in the name of professional progress. This is our chance to open our world to those seeking to be a part of a more culturally diverse industry, be around people that look like them and grew up facing the same challenges we did.”
If you are excited about this mission as we are, please visit www.potluckcpg.org to join the community or learn more about how you can get involved.
Ibraheem Basir is the Founder & CEO of A Dozen Cousins, a natural food brand that makes convenient products inspired by traditional Creole, Caribbean and Latin American dishes. The brand is inspired by his childhood growing up in the culinary melting pot of Brooklyn and is named after his daughter and her 11 cousins. Prior to launching A Dozen Cousins, Ibraheem obtained his MBA from the Wharton School of Business and served as a Brand Manager on a number of national CPG brands.
Sustainability Now for the Future
By Laura Bo, Communications and Sustainability Manager, Indena S.p.A
There’s been so much written and said about sustainability that it’s become one of those overused terms. At the same time, a sustainable approach backed by action is more important now than ever. Given the global pandemic, it has reminded us of our most important needs—good health, pure air, clean water, safe food, and maintaining human connections. It’s put sustainability at the forefront for improving the health and wellbeing for everything living in nature. Hopefully this experience will allow society to look at sustainability as a holistic vision, a new paradigm for creating new economic and social models. A challenge for science and technology to create innovative processes to serve and respect nature, which is one with people.
Nature has served as Indena’s inspiration for 100 years. It’s from our commitment to nature as well as a foundation of research that Indena claims “Science Is Our Nature.” Indena’s activities have been an example of how science and technology are applied with intelligence and respect for nature to the research, discovery, analysis and production of botanicals and plant-active principles that are significant for human health. Sustainability has to be about vision—a vision of a new world—from which can serve the possible practices directed to protect and sustain nature and its balance, based on the respect of life and nature. Nature provides us an ideal example on how to be resilient in a changing world, how to remain steadfast in our deep beliefs. Nature shows us how to keep safe relationships in every field. Nature has wonderful gifts for us and we should take just what we strictly need and be grateful.
To embrace sustainability, a rigorous approach is required. In fact, biodiversity and protection of species are at the heart of Indena’s supply chain and quality standards. Indena pays attention to every phase of its production and supply chain with the aim of reaching ambitious targets in compliance with the international laws that guarantee the biodiversity of botanical species and the equal sharing of benefits. Traceability and transparency are key pillars of the supply chain of wild and cultivated plants. Long-term partnerships with suppliers as well as audits and official documents certifying cultivation and harvesting management are some of the tools confirming sustainable sourcing.
In 2013 Indena launched a Sustainable Sourcing Program and started special social and environmental projects in several collection areas of botanical raw materials.
In 2021, Indena will celebrate its 100-year anniversary. This milestone signifies a long journey and another step forward for Indena’s focus in sustainability and respect of nature. These efforts will continue to be central to its growth and longevity for the next 100 years.
After having worked in the sales department of several companies, Laura Bo joined Indena in 2005 working in supply chain management and since 2009, in the Marketing department as the Advertising and Communication Manager. Since 2013 she has been participating in the Sustainable Sourcing team with her experience, creativity and passion. A degree in Cultural and Linguistic Mediation from the University of Milan and Masters in public relations, web communication and CSR management, integrate a commercial-technical background.
Let’s Talk About Food Loss
By Jacob Foss, COO, Agricycle
Growing up, my mom would tell me to eat everything on my plate. “Don’t let all of that goodness go to waste,” she’d say. “Someone had to grow it.” She taught me to value the work it took farmers to put food on my plate, and it made me curious: Was anything wasted before it reached me?
Over 2.8 trillion pounds of food goes to waste each year, making it the number one problem we can solve to immediately stop climate change (1, 2). Almost half of the food we don’t eat is wasted before it ever reaches a store shelf.
This is called food loss—it’s the stuff lost on the farm and what gets processed and thrown away by a manufacturer. In Sub-Saharan Africa, food loss accounts for nearly 95% of all wasted food on the continent (3). The majority of global food loss stems from the inequities and inefficiencies facing smallholder farmers, a population of 1.5 billion people worldwide (4). Any effort to address food loss has to start by empowering farmers at the smallholder level.
We can start by upcycling. There’s no better way to address food loss than by upcycling it into better-for-everyone products.
In the past few years, hundreds of brands have launched upcycled products, organizing under the Upcycled Food Association and even creating the first official definition of upcycled foods: Upcycled foods use ingredients that otherwise would not have gone to human consumption, are procured and produced using verifiable supply chains, and have a positive impact on the environment. Upcycled food redirects waste streams back into the food system.
Innovators breathe new life into what would have been wasted and earn loyal customers for the taste and origins of their foods. Food waste is a $940B market opportunity. It’s good business to upcycle, and it’s good practice. 8% of all human-caused greenhouse emissions come from wasted food, meaning the entrepreneurs who create the next upcycled snacks are on the frontlines of true sustainability (5).
Mom said it best: Don’t let that goodness go to waste.
Read the rest of this call to action, and see references, here.