What do we look for when choosing a sustainable product? There’s a lot more to consider than you’d think.
1. Health. For us, it isn’t sustainable if it isn’t healthy for our customers. Period.
2. Product purity. Not a single one of our products contain high fructose corn syrup or trans fats. We consider these to be so detrimental that we outright ban them from our foods. As soon as we made this decision, it didn’t take long for other additives to lose their appeal, and now there are dozens of other products we avoid for similar reasons.
3. Local products. The largest threat to our planet’s sustainability by way of humans is climate change. In goods transportation, the general rule is that the faster the mode, the worse it is for the environment down to the very last mile. The hierarchy for modes of transportation, from most damaging to the environment to the least, is planes, trucks, trains, boats, bicycles, walking. The closer it is to home, the keener we are to evaluate it.
4. Product production integrity. Producing a product should have a minimal negative influence on the environment. Ideally, we aim for a positive influence. A negative consequence is evident in water-cooled chicken. The hazardous water left over from this process simply can’t be allowed back into nature without heavy processing. Heritage products (products without extensive genetic tinkering) are a positive consequence. For example, modern hogs sunburn, while the darker skin of heritage hogs provides protection from direct sunlight. Most heritage vegetables are better suited to survive in their natural environment with minimal intervention from people.
5. Market development. We live in a bubble of sustainable food distribution and production. We have the potential to do all the right things in our geographic area and have little to no influence on the world as a whole (save providing an obscure model of what is right). Sustainability is a global issue, and to have a global influence it is important to realise that sustainable developing areas must have a market to become financially viable. Our organic white beans are from China. Though they come to us from a distance, we believe our support is an imperative part in the realisation that there is a market for sustainably produced products, and in encouraging continued effort.
6. Packaging. It is important for us to be aware of not only what comes in our front door, but what goes out our back door to the recycling bins, compost, and even down our drains. We look closely at how products are delivered–a product wrapped in plastic is less desirable than a product wrapped in paper.
We could go on. And on. Sustainability is such a complex issue, with such wide-ranging consequences that the debates have been raging for years. The items we’ve touched on here are literally only the top of the pile.