Nearly 75 percent of millennials, 72 percent of Generation Z, and 51 percent of baby boomers are willing to pay more for sustainably sourced products, according to a recent report by Nielsen. And consumers of all ages are becoming more aware of the food system’s impact on the environment, human rights violations in the food system, and the loss of nutrient density that results from unsustainable farming and production practices. More and more companies—both big and small—are taking notice and are offering more products to meet the growing demand.
While there is no official certification process that encompasses all aspects of sustainability—similar to the organic certification conducted by the National Organic Program (NOP)—various organizations around the world have developed their own criteria. Commonly accepted practices include water and energy conservation, low greenhouse gas emission targets, the humane treatment of animals, eco-friendly packaging, fair working conditions, and maintaining a small business. The Fair Trade Certified™ seal ensures people making Fair Trade Certified goods work in safe conditions, protect the environment, build sustainable livelihoods, and earn additional money to empower and uplift their communities. The Rainforest Alliance seal is awarded to farm and forest products that address biodiversity conservation, protect endangered species, mitigate climate change, and use natural resources wisely. And in 2018, the Rodale Institute introduced the Regenerative Organic Certification that provides guidance for farming and ranching operations, transportation, slaughter, and processing facilities that produce food, cosmetics, and fiber.
Daniela Uribe, owner and founder of Lazy Bear Tea which crafts beverages from sustainably sourced ingredients, tells Food Tank, “When we think about sustainable sourcing we think about a few different factors. First, are the practices used to grow these ingredients environmentally sound and do they promote better stewardship of natural resources? Second, are the people involved in growing these ingredients fairly compensated for their work? And finally, are we mitigating any potentially harmful unintended consequences that may result from our use of these ingredients?”
Whether you’re looking for a salty snack to grab on the go or a refreshing beverage to quench your thirst, there are plenty of sustainably sourced foods ready to use your purchasing power for good.
Alter Eco sells organic chocolate bars, truffles, and clusters with flavor combinations like burnt caramel, salt and malt, and quinoa crunch. The company sources 100 percent of its ingredients from small farmers, is pursuing a pilot program for Regenerative Organic Certification, launched the world’s first compostable, non-GMO, non-toxic candy wrappers, and invented the world’s first compostable stand-up pouch made from renewable, plant-based, non-GMO materials.
Barnana is on a mission to eliminate food waste on organic banana farms by upcycling rejected bananas left to rot because they are too ripe, have scuffs, or aren’t the right size or shape. The company sells organic banana bites and organic banana brittle in flavors such as dark chocolate, peanut butter, and coconut. Their plantain chips come in unique flavors such as Himalayan pink sea salt, Acapulco lime, Brazilian barbecue, and sea salt and vinegar.
Caribé Juice offers a portfolio of cold-pressed juices made from exotic, Caribbean-sourced fruits in flavors such as passion fruit, guava, acerola berry, and starfruit limeade. The company’s social mission is to help small farmers from the Dominican Republic thrive by giving them access to new markets. In 2017 Caribé invested US$2 million to build a new production and co-packing facility in the Dominican Republic creating local job opportunities.
Emmy’s Organics makes organic coconut cookies from non-GMO sourced ingredients that come in flavors such as lemon ginger, dark cacao, chocolate chip, and vanilla bean. The company is a Certified B Corporation®,which requires businesses to meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and performance. Emmy’s makes its products in wind and solar-powered buildings to reduce its carbon footprint, and is an advocate for healthy snacking and social and environmental issues.
Enjoy Life Foods makes an extensive line of snack products that are non-GMO verified, certified gluten-free, free from the 14 most common food allergens, and include all-natural, carefully sourced ingredients. The company boasts the largest allergy-friendly bakery in North America where it makes chocolate bars, cookies, snack bars, baking mixes, and the newly released dark raspberry chocolate protein bar, Easter chocolate minis variety pack, and apple cinnamon breakfast ovals.
Go Macro is a plant-based nutrition bar company established in 2004 by a mother-daughter team after a breast cancer diagnosis that they decided to fight with a macrobiotic, plant-based diet. All ingredients are organic and from non-GMO certified growers who follow sustainable farming practices. The company partnered with Climate Collaborative to reduce its carbon footprint and gives the proceeds from three of its MacroBars to community organizations such as Feeding San Diego, Solutions for Change, and Farm Sanctuary.
Harmless Harvest’s organic coconut water and dairy-free yogurt—available in original unsweetened, strawberry, mango and blueberry—originate from organic Thai coconuts that meet organic certification requirements. It considers itself to be an ecosystem-based business and has received the Fair for Life – Social and Fair Trade Certification, which requires companies to meet environmental best practices, pay farmers and employees a fair wage, and ensure favorable working conditions.
Hippeas are a light and crunchy baked puff snack made from chickpeas available in flavors such as nacho vibes, vegan white cheddar, sriracha sunshine, bohemian barbecue, and pepper power. They are gluten-free, GMO-free, soy-free, kosher, contain no nuts, are USDA certified organic, and vegan. The company works with Feeding America® to donate to local food banks across the country and aids in disaster relief efforts.
Justin’s offers an extensive line of culinary nut butters made from local and natural ingredients that include almond, cashew, and peanut butter in various flavors, as well as peanut butter cups and almond and cashew snack bags. The company incorporates multiple sustainable business efforts that include bee conservation and protection, purchasing cocoa from Rainforest Alliance Certified Farms, sourcing organic palm fruit oil certified under the RSPO’s IP supply chain model, providing product packaging that has recyclable cup liners and trays, and offering Eco Passes for its employees to incentivize green transportation to work.
Lazy Bear Teas combine cascara, the fruit of the cherry coffee, with natural, sustainably sourced ingredients like organic mint, lemon, and agave to create a new tea experience. The company strives to make the world a better place through ethical ingredient sourcing, sustainable packaging, and helping coffee farmers develop new sources of income. Uribe tells Food Tank, “I see a growing emphasis on the wholesomeness and goodness of food. The consumers I talk to are genuinely interested in learning about food and ask questions about the coffee supply chain, the origin of the ingredients, and who is leading the company. It’s great to see people reconnecting with their food.”
Mountain Goat Brewery is focused on improving typical industry beer-making operations that consume a lot of power and water, and produce significant greenhouse emissions, while making world-class beer. This Australian-based brewery is working to reduce its environmental impact by only selling its product in cans that are more cost-efficient to transport, giving spent grain to local farmers for cattle feed, almost completely eliminating Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions through a copper vapor condensing unit, and by reducing the biosolids, temperature, and chemical load on its sewer system through a multi-step filtration process.
Nature’s Path sells a long list of grain-based foods that include cereals, granola, oatmeal, waffles, and snack bars. The company supports sustainability through organic growing practices that reduce pesticide usage, has a goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2020, preserves water by sending wastewater to a biodigester for energy conversion, and provides sustainability training to its employees. All of Nature’s Path manufacturing facilities have achieved Zero Waste Certification.
Pacari Chocolate is a family-owned Ecuadorian company that sells Fair Trade Certified™, sustainable, socially responsible, certified organic dark chocolate, which has won over 180 international chocolate awards since 2012. Pacari eliminated the middlemen and works directly with 3,500 Ecuadorian families, which are paid a significant premium over market prices to ensure fair compensation.
Patagonia Provisions’ mission is to improve the food chain by learning everything it can about the sourcing of each product it sells and then improving upon that process. The company offers a growing selection of foods such as salmon, buffalo jerky, packaged soup and chili mixes, beer, and dry goods. It supports local food producers and has partnered with the Environmental Working Group to petition the Environmental Protection Agency’s pesticide office to ban all unnecessary use of neonicotinoids.
Purely Elizabeth is a Certified B Corporation that offers granola, oatmeal, and grain-free superfood bars, with ingredients such as ancient grains, superfood seeds, adaptogens to boost energy and immunity, a patented vegan strand of probiotics, and raw virgin coconut oil. The company strives to preserve the health of the planet by donating to organizations like Slow Food USA, Wellness in Schools, The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation, Water Charity, and the Rodale Institute.
Regrained upcycles grain leftover from the beer brewing process into snack bars with unique flavor combinations such as the honey cinnamon IPA immunity bar, the coffee chocolate stout energy bar, and the blueberry sunflower saison antioxidant bar. The company’s sustainable packaging combined with its partnership with the OSC2 Packaging Collaborative supports Regrained’s mission to reduce waste.
Stonyfield began as an organic farming school 35 years ago prior to making organic yogurt, smoothies, milk, and organic snacks like string cheese. The company partners with hundreds of organic family farmers across the United States that are free of pesticides and other potentially hazardous chemicals. In 2018 Stonyfield kicked off its Make Earth Cool Again campaign to educate and encourage consumers to vote for political candidates who support environmental issues.
Tony’s Chocolonely’s mission is to end slavery on cocoa farms in West Africa by raising awareness, paying cocoa farmers a higher price, investing in long-term partnerships, providing farmer education to improve productivity, and making chocolate bars with traceable cocoa. In 2017, Tony’s Chocolonely paid an extra US$2.3 million premium to cocoa farmers.