Sustainable on the table
Once upon a time, nutrition recommendations were simple: dietitians talked about balancing “calories in” with “calories out”; we encouraged people to eat fruit and vegetables and eat less sugar, salt and fat.
However, our food supply and the intricate web of ethical, social and environmental impacts our food choices have are anything but simple in 2012.
More and more, the health-minded consumer is also an ethically and environmentally conscious one as well.
A 2010 Statistics Canada report found that 27 per cent of Canadians surveyed had purchased or boycotted a particular product for “ethical reasons,” which include a vegetarian diet, Fair Trade or environmental impact.
It is not enough to simply be a “healthy” food in the marketplace; ethical business models help demonstrate that a food producer or retailer is thinking about the customer’s well being in more ways than one.
A classic example is that of seafood.
For years, dietitians and health professionals have been encouraging consumers to eat more fish and seafood as a lean protein and source of omega-3 fats but growing awareness of our fishing practices leaves the consumer wondering about whether they should be buying fish at all.
These programs provide point of sale to help retailers communicate with consumers and take the burden of researching fisheries off the shoulders of the retailer.
Another point at which cutting-edge nutrition meets ethical dilemmas is with “superfoods.”
Exotic items such as açaí and sea buckthorn berries, mangosteen fruit or quinoa get a great deal of air time–leaving shoppers clamoring for the latest and greatest on store shelves.
As awareness of ethical trade practices grows, increasingly consumers want to know that the companies procuring these exotic elixirs are doing so in a way that is respectful of the local environment and grower’s rights.
Consumers are bombarded with information about nutrition, food and the impact of their food choices; retailers that help make healthy and sustainable shopping simple will attract eco-minded shoppers.
When reviewing new products, you now have one more variable to help you differentiate between all your choices: sustainability.
Adding to your offerings of Fair Trade, eco-conscious and ethically produced foods will help demonstrate your commitment to the consumer and to the world they inhabit.