Aug 11 , 2019
What is that?
You may have seen the headlines the few couple days about how climate change threatens the world's food supply, so I won't go into details. No matter what your perspective on the issue, the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of the United Nations (UN), prepared by over 100 experts from more than 50 nations, warns that food shortages related to climate change could occur on multiple continents at the same time.
If you have followed our blog for a while or heard me speak on a podcast, you know the issue of hunger is close to my heart. As a teacher I've worked in schools and programs for homeless and at-risk youth. As a soil scientist I've worked in mine land reclamation. As a community and professional volunteer I've served in leadership roles for organizations dedicated to natural resources conservation. And I can assure anyone who doubts that there is a relationship, albeit a complex one, among land use, changing climatic times and the availability of food for a growing world population.
This latest report, Climate Change and the Land, covers land and climate interactions, land degradation, desertification, food security, greenhouse gases and decision-making and management around these topics.
I'd been thinking about blogging this week on our newest product (which a label proof misprint has prevented us from releasing yet, so I won't let the cat out of the bag). The focus was to be the clean ingredients on the label. And I won't kid you that the ingredients don't get any simpler and cleaner than things like "lemon juice", "butter" and "blueberries." But if you read the IPCC report, or reports on the report, you could really start to think, how clean are those ingredients? How easy are they on the land- how sustainable, to use another trending buzzword?
Recently a colleague mentioned that his company was building closer to blueberries because they use so many they had essentially tapped out their regional supply. This could be a smart move business-wise, saving money on trucking blueberries in from afar, and certainly is a check in the sustainability column. The carbon footprint cut from movement of food from place to place is immense. And so another buzzword, local. Obviously, we can't get our lemons straight off the tree in Utah, but we do source all our ingredients from the US, and display a Made in the USA sticker on our items.
We're also proud of our local affiliation with Utah's Own, whose mission is "to help educate food lovers about the economic impact of supporting local small food producers..." The organization recently noted a study showing that if Utahns spend just 10% more on local businesses, this could keep nearly $1.5 billion in the State's economy annually. Local means more than just reducing our carbon footprint, which may relieve some of the pressure on the effects of climate change on the land. It also means supporting our own economies, right at home.
People increasingly look for foods that are made locally, with clean ingredients, that are healthier for their bodies and for the land that provides the food that sustains us. A recent webinar on current trends in the specialty food industry by Specialty Food Association (SFA) listed among the trends: "free-from", all natural, non-GMO, organic, locally or regionally sourced or produced, and eco-friendly. The May issue of trade publication Food Processing featured articles about removing GMO ingredients from foods, the need for sustainable foods to serve the restaurant and college dining customers, especially in times of growing demand for plant-based foods, and a nod to the millenial generation, many of whom are looking for clean ingredients and all natural foods to eat (and snap Instagram photos of).
Whatever your perspective on your own eating habits, or on climate change and its affects on the land, the simple truth is that simplicity- in the form of natural and sustainable- is on the rise among food preferences. We plan to keep up with this growing demand.Your thoughts are welcome.
(Lisa Cox is CEO/ SVP Sales & Marketing for Gem City Fine Foods. While her thoughts and expressions are her own, she remains with the company because of a team dedication to meeting the needs of the celiac, gluten sensitive, food allergic and socially conscious consumer.)