Eating well goes beyond simply choosing fruits and veggies; you want foods produced in an environmentally conscious manner. Luckily, food and beverage companies have accepted the challenge of engaging in sustainable food production practices. Many of these companies now invest in cutting-edge agricultural and production processes to yield food and beverages in a way that preserves natural resources.
It’s important to understand why one item, such as organic milk, may be a better choice than another dairy brand touting the same organic production. To assist you, tools like GoodGuide rate food companies on individual sustainability practices, including the amount of natural resources consumed to produce the item and the environmental impact it had while in production.
Aside from the food itself, packaging is another area where these companies are making eco-friendly improvements — using less material, or creating packages with new materials that are recyclable or biodegradable.
Food and beverage companies committed to sustainability want to communicate their efforts to customers. To do so, they’ll often post info about their environmental efforts on food packages and their website. Certifications from entities such as the Food Alliance can tell you if an item is produced according to independently rated sustainability standards.
In the store, you can also use grocery apps to give you information on a specific item prior to purchase. For example, HowGood will tell you more than just the nutritional makeup of an item. Each of the 137,000 products listed are rated on a variety of company practices, from fair labor conditions for workers to ingredient sourcing.
Still unsure what makes your go-to brand sustainable? Here are a few that are making a real, measurable, positive impact on the environment by enhancing their production methods:
This West Coast microbrewery, now expanding into Charleston, South Carolina, is in the process of installing 6,000 solar panels at its California facility. Fueled by clean energy, Lagunitas can expect its panels to contribute 50 percent of the energy needed for beer production at that location.
A winner of the U.S. Dairy Sustainability Award, this cheese manufacturer places a high priority on water conservation and invests in energy-efficient equipment to that effect. Consequently, it is able to generate 75 percent of the electricity needed for cheese production through a renewable energy source.
Not only is McCormick rated a top sustainable food production company, but it’s also considered one of the most sustainable companies in the world, in any industry, according to Newsweek. A company facility in Maryland has been able to operate at net-zero status, meaning its systems generate only as much energy as is needed for production.
The packaging for Hershey’s Miniatures was recently updated with a more sustainable design — one that’ll save 1,957 trees each year for paper costs and reduce enough energy to power 56 homes for one year. The company also met its 2016 goal to source 50 percent of their cocoa from certified farms operating sustainably, and has raised this bar to 75 percent by 2017.
United Natural Foods produces a large selection organic foods with a commitment to sustainable practices. Renewable energy, in the form of rooftop solar panels, can be monitored right from the company’s website. Wide-reaching sustainability measures include waste management, the construction of LEED buildings and managing the logistics of distribution to reduce their effect on the environment.
These companies are just a few examples of those who are currently crushing it in the food and beverage industry as they strive for improvements in sustainability. Before long, you’ll have a repertoire of your favorite companies that make a good impact.