Green Money

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September 5th, 2012.

 

Food & Money
By Cliff Feigenbaum

When Gary Hirshberg, co-founder of Stonyfield Farm, declared, "Be an activist whenever you shop," I had to agree. ( Watch his recent Bioneers Conference keynote address at http://www.bioneers.org ). This issue is about being an activist with food and money, both of which profoundly impact our health and our planet, and how to make our collective impact even more positive.

Good news: America is finally beginning to recognize the personal and economic value of safe, healthy food. But we still have issues about what, when, and how much to eat. In many ways this is the heart of health care, entailing a variety of social and environmental consequences.

Especially since our Summer 2008 Organic Foods issue, I have enjoyed learning about locally grown food. Here in food-crazy Santa Fe our local Edible Santa Fe publication, part of the national Edible Communities network, has raised our town's awareness of locally grown food. Edible Santa Fe Editor Kate Manchester and the Farm to Restaurant Project of the Santa Fe Alliance started me thinking seriously about healthy local and regional food issues. Food shouldn't have to travel 1500 miles before it lands on my plate; I can shop with more positive impact at the locally owned La Montanita Food Co-op and the Santa Fe farmers market, and eat at the restaurants sourcing food from local and regional farmers.

Bottom line, eating locally grown food represents mutual gain and shared prosperity while acknowledging that stakeholders in our communities are interdependent.

Of course, GreenMoney has long promoted organic farming and fair trade. We've attended and reported on conferences such as All Things Organic and Natural Products Expo West, and I have shopped at Whole Foods Market for many years, along with owning stock in the company (Stock Symbol: WFMI) and supporting their Whole Planet Foundation which provides micro-loans to farmers. But, with the emphasis on local production and consumption, the healthy food issue has become personal for me and for many others. Among the wide range of food topics people are discussing: permaculture, biodynamic farming, product safety and recalls, factory farming, integrity of organic standards, food-labeling, GMOs, water rights, green jobs in organic ag, increased access to organic foods, healthier school lunches, and ending child labor in sourcing cocoa.

We're also looking at a larger conversation of ecosystem services, which are the benefits that nature provides to people. Food, water, timber and cotton for clothes are some of the most familiar and visible services, but there are unseen benefits that we too often take for granted. For example, forests sequester carbon and mitigate climate change, and wetlands filter and purify water.

What can't be grown locally for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, are such items as coffee or chocolate, and it's with these that our shopping decisions really intersect with the welfare of people and the planet.

For example, consider a Fair Trade Certified Organic chocolate bar from Alter Eco ( http://www.altereco-usa.com ) purchased here in Santa Fe. The label states that it is Fair Trade Certified by TransFair USA and is USDA Organic. The chocolate comes from El Ceibo Cooperative in Bolivia, where the cocoa beans are grown, harvested, processed, and sold by people in the Amazonian basin. Fair Trade Certification means that these workers and communities receive a fair share of the profits. USDA Organic Certification means the product is grown without numerous toxins or GMOs and is backed by rigorous Federal agricultural standards.

How can chocolate consumption impact the planet? Consider that the U.S. yearly per capita chocolate consumption is 11.7 pounds, for a national total of over three and a half billion pounds. When even a small percent of Americans buy chocolate with Fair Trade Certified and the USDA Organic logos they create countless opportunities for native growers and help free children from virtual slavery. (See Newsweek's November 2nd issue as well as the "Hershey CSR Report" in the Fair Trade section at http://www.globalexchange.org )

On to this issue: We open with friend and fellow New Mexican Woody Tasch examining his fast growing Slow Money organization. Next, organic farming insider Bob Scowcroft gives us his take on the industry and what is required for organics to flourish. SRI financial professional Kathy Leonard looks at the world of organics from the investor and customer point of view, and finally, our long-time editor Ted Ketcham shares a brief update on the Fair Trade coffee marketplace.

Also here on GreenMoney.com you'll find more great articles, including a report from the recent Social Capital Markets conference, plus insights shared by the founders of Maggie's Organic Clothes and Kopali Organic Foods.

Finally some reading recommendations for yourself and your Holiday Gift list: "The Blue Economy," by Gunter Pauli; "Sustainable Excellence," by Aron Cramer and Zachery Karabell; "Water Matters" edited by Tara Lohan, "The HIP Investor," by R. Paul Herman; "Building Social Business," by Muhammad Yunus; "Street Smart Sustainability, by David Mager and Joe Sibilia; and "The Better World Shopping Guide," by Ellis Jones.

One other Holiday Gift idea: The New Mexico Environmental Law Center is now offering 3 excellent chocolate bars called ‘Justice Bars.' They come in Milk Chocolate Pecan, Dark Chocolate Mint, and Dark Chocolate Chile. They are made locally with New Mexico ingredients and organic chocolate. Go to http://www.nmelc.org for ordering information.

Here's to the New Year and all of its promise.

Feature articles

 
In Soil We Trust – A Slow Money Update [Expanded Version]
"The innate value of this kind of investing is so obvious to me," stated a woman from Ashland, OR during a Slow Money workshop, "that I don't care how much money I make."
by Woody Tasch
 
Parallel Paths – SRI & Organics
As I began to think about this article, I was struck by the many parallels between the organic and natural food industry and socially responsible investing (SRI). As investors, what should we be considering as we evaluate these industries? What can we learn from them? What can both of us do better?
by Kathy Leonard
 
Invest in Youth - The Future of Organics
There are many tag lines that start with a relatively short media blitz but emerge generation after generation as meaning something entirely different. Better Living through Chemistry comes to mind. (Kicking off the green revolution it meant something quite different to those hipsters dropping out in the 60s and 70s) You've come a long way, baby is another. Yes encouraging women to liberate themselves – by smoking cigarettes morphed into a positive acknowledgment of speed of light progress. I heard it used often in the dot-com boom a decade or two ago. There are many more to choose from.
by Bob Scowcroft
 
Fair Trade Coffee - A Status Report [Expanded Version]
This morning cup of coffee I’m drinking means I’m not alone. The International Coffee Organization reports that my cup is one of 1.4 billion to be consumed on our planet today, and that even though the U.S. will account for 400 million of today’s cups, we’re only number 22 on the world list in per capita coffee consumption.
by Ted Ketcham
 

Exclusive Online Articles

 
Organic & Fair Trade Products / Resources List
Information resources, organic & Fair Trade products, leading companies, organizations, eating greener & healthier, information on cocoa industry.
 
Maggie's Organics – The Fabric of Humanity
Maggie's Organics has been making high-quality durable and affordable socks and apparel out of organic fibers since 1992. We began quite by accident, when an organic corn farmer in Texas taught us the truth behind conventional cotton.
By Bena Burda, Maggie's Organic founder
 
Kopali Organics - Saving organic farmers, one treat at a time
Kopali (ko*pah*lee) is an ancient Mexican Nahuatl word meaning "incense," particularly identified with the forms of aromatic tree resins used to this day by many descendents of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica as a ceremonially burned incense. To us, it represents the lifeblood of trees, our commitment to the indigenous cultures of our planet, and a reminder of our sacred connection to the natural world that we all belong to.
By Zak Zaidman, Kopali cofounder and CEO
 
Social Capital Markets Conference 2010: The Evolution of Money and Meaning
The very existence of the Social Capital Markets conference, known as SOCAP, says it all - over 1,300 vibrant, excited, inspired, brilliant leaders - philanthropists, social entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, micro-finance entrepreneurs, advisors, and consultants who joined together at San Francisco's Fort Mason in early October. They're all working with investing as a means to create better lives for the world's poor, restore and grow healthy ecosystems, foster social entrepreneurs, local food systems, local businesses, and more. All this was just a glimmer in the eye of SRI investors decades ago. Now, it is a reality.
By Greg Wendt, CFP
 

Additional Online Articles

 
Eco-Friendly Practice to Enhance Hyatt Regency Tamaya Meeting Offerings
The Hyatt Regency Tamaya (near Albuquerque, NM) today announced in late July the launch of Meet and Be Green, a new program that encourages guests and planners to make green choices for their meetings.
 
Market report: Upward trend in the International Organic Markets
Sustainability and a healthy and organic lifestyle are still in great demand and worldwide sales of organic food, natural cosmetics and eco textiles are growing appreciably again. Once a year, the World Organic Trade Fair BioFach and the parallel Vivaness, Trade Fair for Natural Personal Care and Wellness, gather the international organic sector in Nürnberg – the last time with 2,557 exhibitors and 43,669 trade visitors. The exhibition duo takes place next time from 16–19 February 2011, when some 2,500 exhibitors are expected again, including 180 at Vivaness.
 
Whole Foods Can Do It. Can You?
In a year when many food retailers have struggled to squeeze sales growth out of soft pricing, Whole Foods Market has beaten analysts' and its own expectations for revenue, profits and same-store sales growth. For its 2010 fourth quarter, ended September 26, Whole Foods posted revenues of $2.1 billion on 15% growth. On a same-store basis, sales increased 8.7%, above the company's anticipated range of 6.5% - 7.5%, and gross profits climbed to nearly 35% of sales. Only growth in new stores has flagged of late with just one opening in Q4, but the company's long-term plan calls for the opening of 15 new stores in 2011 and another 20 in 2012. The retailer closed out its 2010 fiscal year with $9 billion in sales and 301 stores in the United States, Canada and the UK.
By Nutrition Business Journal
 
Colorado Emerging As a Powerhouse in the Organic Products Market
The number of farms and businesses dedicated to organic and eco-friendly consumer products is growing in Colorado; according to industry estimates, the state accounts for $2.5 billion in organic sales, or approximately 10% of overall U.S. sales of organic products.
 
Two leaders receive Organic Trade Association’s highest honor
Theresa Marquez of Organic Valley and Bob Quinn of Kamut® International received Organic Trade Association’s (OTA’s) prestigious Organic Leadership Awards for 2010 in ceremonies held last October in Boston, MA.
 
Why Ben & Jerry’s Commits to Fair Trade
Ben & Jerry’s raised eyebrows earlier this year when the Burlington-based ice cream company announced that all of its products would be made from fair trade certified ingredients by 2011 in Europe and 2013 in the United States. The company, which started in an abandoned gas station in 1978, grew into one of Americans’ best loved ice cream brands. Unilever purchased the company in 2000, but not after months of kicking and streaming and an agreement that Ben & Jerry’s management and board drafted that demanded that Ben & Jerry’s would always continue its social mission without any interference from its new parent company.
by Leon Kaye, editor of GreenGoPost.com
 
Oikocredit Recognized for Outstanding Achievement
The CGAP MIV ESG Award honors the “best in class” microfinance investors, and commends Oikocredit for its outstanding achievement in innovation and engagement with its project partners (or investees) and other industry groups.

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