As much as we love pumpkins, sometimes it can be a challenge to figure out how to take advantage of all those nourishing seeds. Packed with rich nutrients such as magnesium, zinc, and plant-based omega-3s, these seeds are certainly worth the extra effort in the kitchen. If you’re tired of the standard roasting drill, try some […]
This article was co-written by Matt Loose and Aimee Watson.
What if everyone could have access to food that meets their dietary needs without preventing future generations from meeting theirs? That’s the idea at the heart of sustainable nutrition. Increased attention to the environmental impacts of food types drives interest in sustainable nutrition, helping spur innovation and interest in those foods that can deliver nutritional value with a reduced environmental footprint.
The agricultural footprint — the land required to grow the food sold — of the world’s largest global food companies, producers and traders is huge. As food demand increases in line with an increasing population, demand for land will grow.
Furthermore, the food industry has been affected by some of the most acute sustainability challenges we face today. Our changing climate will force shifts in where, how and what is grown. Globally, issues of droughts and floods as well as salinization and desertification will scramble the agricultural map as we know it and may reduce crop production. Falling temperatures will decrease crop yields at lower latitudes whilst other yields increase in higher regions.
To take just one example, researchers predict a two-thirds reduction in production in the world’s premier, typically lower lying wine regions such as France, Italy and California, and an increase in previously unsuitable (higher) regions such as the hills of Central China and the UK.
Growing populations are expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, forcing intensification of farming practices. Population increase, combined with changes to our diets, may mean farmers produce 70 percent more food by 2050 (90 percent of which is expected to come from intensification and higher-yield techniques). At the same time, we face rapid growth in acute diet-related disease, from obesity (an increase of 8 percent since 1980), to diabetes (186 million increase expected by 2030), heart conditions (set to remain the No. 1 killer globally with an expected death toll of 23.3 million by 2030) and cancers (an additional 8 million cases expected by 2030).
It is little wonder, then, that there is rapid innovation in the area of sustainable food, and that sustainable nutrition is emerging as an important new measure of food sustainability.
Progress on sustainable nutrition requires examining the full value chain of food products — from agricultural production to processing, preparation and disposal. Work is converging towards a common set of life-cycle-analysis type indicators including CO2, water and land use. Multi-national and multi-stakeholder projects are underway to develop appropriate measures. One such example is the work of the Sustainability Consortium, working to establish data sets for the life-cycle environmental and social impacts of food.
The environmental impact of your diet
With sustainable nutrition information in hand, food companies have begun comparing the environmental impacts of diets, menu options and food ingredients. The results of this research will be of huge importance to food scientists hoping to design low-impact foods. For example, there is significant interest in the potential to use flours from dried beans and legumes known as pulse flours, which are high in protein, as ingredients to reduce environmental impact and improve nutritional quality of commonly eaten affordable foods such as pasta.
How to communicate this information to non-expert consumer audiences is key, with clever infographics, ratios and labelling all playing their parts. For example, the carbon footprint comparing types of meats to types of crops might be expressed as car miles driven per 4 ounces consumed. Ultimately, though, environmentally better products also have to taste better, be better quality and be priced better for consumers’ preferences in order for change to happen at scale. As a result, innovation in vegetarian food offerings is picking up pace.
As scientists and consumers better understand the life-cycle of food, and as the sustainable-nutrition discussion gains momentum, designing menus and diets will become increasingly sophisticated. It will be possible to take into account a comprehensive environmental impact that’s far more advanced than the separate “issue labels” such as carbon footprint, sustainable sourcing or organic labels that are found on food today.
The implications of this important step forward are game-changing. Big food buyers could have the tools to design “environmentally friendly” menus. Retailers can be benchmarked on the sustainability of the food they sell. And investment in food companies can be made to target those with sustainable and nutritious portfolios.
Ultimately, the food companies with portfolios that combine superior environmental performance and more nutritious products will be the future stars of the food industry. The innovation and technology that surround sustainable nutrition suggests that this could be just around the corner — an exciting time for the food industry indeed.
This article originally appeared in What’s Next, SustainAbility’s column for GreenBiz.
Explore a slideshow of cover images from some of our most iconic books over the past 30 years. Excerpts from these books and close to 100 others are all part of a new Chelsea Green anthology celebrating our 30th anniversary – The Chelsea Green Reader. This collection offers readers a glimpse into our wide-ranging list […]
SustainAbility is pleased to announce that we will be publishing our latest research on transparency on 5 December. To mark the launch we are hosting a breakfast roundtable in London with ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) exploring the key findings of our the work.
The breakfast roundtable will be held at:
Location: ACCA UK Office, 29 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London, WC2A 3EE
Time: 08.00 – 10.00am (A light breakfast will be served from 08.00am)
Space is limited so please RSVP here.
Co-authors of the report Margo Mosher and Lorraine Smith will share key findings before hearing responses to the research from leading reporting and business sustainability experts.
The key thematic questions we will explore include:
- What is ‘effective’ corporate transparency?
- How can transparency drive better decision-making, impact performance and drive positive change?
- How has, and how will, corporate transparency change?
Sure to be a hit at any holiday gathering, master bread baker Richard Miscovich describes this Fig Pecan Bread as slightly sweet, delicious, nutritious, and soothing. Here is the full recipe from his latest book, From the Wood-Fired Oven. ***** Fig Pecan Bread By Richard Miscovich One of my favorite baking books—and one that gives […]
This piece was originally published in the autumn issue of Radar Magazine – Issue 05: Unusual Activists.
Global human rights violations have risen in the last decade and unless governments act to introduce stronger binding mechanisms and companies start viewing human rights compliance as an essential part of corporate accountability, progress on human rights will remain slow.
In a recent report, Human Rights Watch and Maplecroft estimated that in the last six years global human rights violations have risen by 70 percent. A large share of this increase can be attributed to workers’ rights infringements, land grabs and supply chain violations in emerging markets. A survey of UK supply chain professionals showed that 1 in 10 businesses believe that slavery exists in their supply chain. Recent revelations of child labour in Samsung’s Asian supplier factories once again underscored that full visibility of the supply chain remains out of reach for many corporations.
While many companies have made progress in recent years, most human rights compliance mechanisms remain voluntary. The UN Guiding Principles have achieved significant buy-in from corporations, but they have no binding power. Several laws have also come under fire. In September, seventy academics, politicians and activists signed a petition arguing that the US Dodd-Frank Act, requiring firms to trace the minerals sourced in the Congo, has fuelled the conflict in the country.
New legislative initiatives are currently in the works. The UK Parliament is set to pass the Modern Slavery Bill, one of the first laws of its kind in the world. The EU is also debating new rules to regulate the sourcing of conflict minerals. While these measures may lead to some improvements, the real change will come when governments show stronger resolve to enact enforcement mechanisms and companies start viewing human rights compliance as an obligation – not a choice.
What to look for: The pressure on corporations to address human rights issues will grow while NGOs and the media will continue to closely monitor and expose violations. Companies should remain sensitive to compliance issues and take a proactive stance by implementing innovative measures and spearheading new partnerships or joining existing collaboration initiatives.
Canada’s place in the world has been in the news lately, for a variety of reasons.
For starters, Canadian jets have been hitting Islamic State military positions in Iraq. For American readers, who are more used to seeing their military show its muscle, I should clarify: this is newsworthy in Canada. Canadians have historically thought of themselves as peacekeepers — we have a long history of participation in UN peacekeeping missions — but have less often, in recent decades at least, been involved in outright warfare.
And on the economic front, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is just back from visiting China, a trip aimed at solidifying and expanding economic relations between the two countries. Not surprisingly, given the focus of the visit, a press release from the Prime Minister’s Office makes no mention of human rights. But as others have noted repeatedly, China has a pretty bad record in that regard. A liberal democracy like Canada must be concerned (and has occasionally expressed concern) about China’s record on human rights. So the trip to China meant the PM had to smile for the cameras while presumably biting his tongue. It’s not hard to understand that decision: the trip reportedly resulted in $2.8 billion worth of new deals — a big amount for a relatively small economy like Canada’s. The deal is less important for China’s massive economy, naturally. But it is no doubt important for China’s leadership to be seen shaking hands with leaders of respected liberal democracies. As political scientist Charles Burton put it, “the Chinese leadership got the affirmation of political legitimacy that they wanted from Canada.” Is Canada hoping to demonstrate leadership here, helping its new best pal see the way forward on human rights? Or is Canada instead being led by the nose?
But Canada faces other challenges too on the global scene. Canada’s dairy farmers, long protected by a system of quotas and price controls, are currently haunted by the spectre of international competition. In an era of free (or freer) trade, such protections are increasingly coming under fire. Most recently, New Zealand (charmingly referred to by some as the ‘Saudi Arabia of milk’) is pushing to gain access for its milk producers to the Canadian market. Is Canada going to lead in free trade, or in protectionism?
All of this is to say that the role of Canada on the world stage — the military stage, the political stage, and the economic stage — is evolving rapidly. High on the list of related questions is whether there is a leadership role for Canada, and if so, just what that role is. Canadians know that they aren’t going to play a leadership role militarily. We aren’t a superpower (we rank 57th, globally, in terms of active military personnel, and our defence budget is the 15th biggest in the world). And in terms of overall population, our 35 million puts us at 38th in the world, and our GDP is the 11th highest in the world — respectable for our size, but hardly an economic superpower.
But the truth of it is — and this is a point I work hard to impress upon my students — that leadership isn’t a function reserved for the top of the food-chain. In a corporation, leadership isn’t exclusively a function for CEOs and other C-suite executives. Leadership happens throughout an organization. And I don’t just mean that there are managers at all levels. That’s true, but not the point: not all managers are leaders in any meaningful sense. Leadership is a role, not a job title, and you (yes you!) can be a leader if you have the skills and use them to step up to the plate. So Canada (and other non-superpower countries) can still aim to play a leadership role on the international stage, if they are willing and interested to.
That’s why the Ted Rogers Leadership Centre (of which I am Director) is proud to be supporting The Economist‘s first-ever Canada Summit. (You can get a $400 discount on registration by clicking on that link!) The overarching theme is the question, “how can Canada play a larger, global role?” The Canada Summit is characteristically ambitious (I’ve participated in one of The Economist’s events previously), but the organizers have gathered together an impressive lineup of speaker to tackle the Summit’s agenda. Of course, no one event can really answer such ambitious questions. But the conversation is important. Personally or nationally, the question of whether this is your time to lead is always an open one. But the right time to start thinking about it is always now.
Wer forscht gerade wo zu welchen Aspekten der gesellschaftlichen Unternehmensverantwortung? CSR NEWS stellt in einer Serie aktuelle Projekte und Publikationen aus der deutschsprachigen Forschungslandschaft vor: Hier die Forschungsstudie zur Evaluierung und Steuerung von CSR am Leadership Excellence Institute der Zeppelin Universität unter der Leitung von Prof. Dr. Josef Wieland. … [visit site to read more]
Grow pounds of oyster mushrooms right in your home with fairly little effort and just a small amount of space. All you need is 16 square feet, a few plastic buckets, an organic material to the grow the mushrooms on, like spent coffee grounds, and some spawn. Use recycled or salvaged items and this hobby […]
This piece was originally published in the autumn issue of Radar Magazine – Issue 05: Unusual Activists.
A series of scandals have shaken food companies sourcing and selling in China, bringing into the spotlight persistent safety concerns and forcing corporations to review traceability tools and consider working more closely with suppliers to address the problems.
In July 2014, a supplier to McDonald’s and KFC in China was exposed for supplying rotten meat and falsifying product expiration dates during an undercover investigation by a local TV channel. Earlier this year Walmart recalled meat products, in a similar incident to the UK horsemeat scandal, as packs contained species of animals not identified on their labels.
The recent scandal in China (combined with sluggish demand) has contributed to the worst same-store sales decline in over a decade for McDonald’s. The company has announced an overhaul of its food safety strategy in the country including boosting the number of unannounced audits of suppliers, creating anonymous hotlines for suppliers to report non-compliant practices and appointing a new national food safety chief. Walmart has announced plans to triple its spending on food safety and pledged to increase checks on vendors and conduct DNA testing of meat sourced in China.
As customer confidence dips, consumer-facing innovations that enable greater traceability are entering the marketplace such as a prototype of smart chopsticks that transmit data to a mobile application that can trace for contaminated oil in food. In response to recent food safety scares, BT and Traceall Global have announced a collaboration on a new supply chain solution for consumers—a secure, centrally-managed web-based system delivering a 360° end-to-end view of a company’s supply chain.
What to look for: Food safety issues will continue to be a lightning rod for companies with supply chains deeply embedded in China. As companies galvanise their efforts to increase oversight of their supply chains, they will need to look beyond audits to communicate their transparency efforts to stakeholders.