The Word We Know You've All Been Waiting For... Sustainability

Sustainable can be Attainable.

JRW Birmingham, AL

Sustainable Food

It is my experience that sustainability isn’t a commonly understood concept. This could be because there isn’t a true, government definition for “Sustainable Food”.

Sustainability, in my own words, is a practice that can be repeated over time without self-destruction, which involves ethical and environmental conservation practices.

Jennifer Chait’s article “The Differences Between Organic and Sustainable Food” does an excellent job of describing sustainability by comparing and contrasting it to organic farming practices.

To summarize, she lists 8 key differences:

  1. Sustainable is unofficial, but measurable – unlike the government-sponsored certification of organic, sustainable is not a certified policy or label
  2. Sustainable is small – size and maximization of the resources is highly considered in sustainable farming
  3. Sustainable is water efficient – water conservation is a critical part to sustainable farming, where it may, or may not, be considered in organic farming
  4. Sustainable is energy efficient – similar to water efficiency, it may not be occurring at an organic farming operation
  5. Sustainable is low emission – sustainable farming uses business models, such as only delivering locally, to reduce fossil fuel usage and emissions
  6. Sustainable is more humane – to be clear, this is NOT saying that organic rearing of animals is inhumane. What this is saying, however, is that organic products do not promise humane handling as part of the program requirements
  7. Sustainable is eco-friendly packaging – sustainable production uses the least amount of resources necessary and aims to use recyclable materials. Organic can follow these practices as well but is not required.
  8. Sustainable extends beyond food – sustainability can extend across an entire business model, not just the food. For example, a sustainable company can choose to go paperless or encourage lifestyle choices for their employees

Now, can the two co-exist? Sure! But it isn’t good practice to assume if a product specifies one, that it meets the expectations of the other. If sustainability is important to you, it may not be evident on a label. Often times, it requires research of the manufacturing company to see if you are consuming a sustainable product.

Have any questions about sustainability? Ask away! Contact us here.

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