We are thrilled to announce the winners of the inaugural National Co+op Grocers Climate Collaborative Awards as part of Climate Day today at Expo West. Scroll down to find out who won--and why!
These awards provide a powerful platform for recognizing climate leaders in the natural products industry, raising awareness of their efforts and celebrating their innovative and forward-thinking approaches to this global problem.
"In just a few short months, the Collaborative has already brought together a robust community of bold innovators committed to sharing ideas and practical tools that move us forward to address climate change. As the news cycle shakes us with devastating and unprecedented weather events, this is exactly the kind of hope and practical action that we, our employees, and the consumers we serve need. We are excited to honor our peers for their efforts with the first ever National Co+op Grocers Climate Collaborative Awards at Expo West!" — Robynn Shrader, CEO, National Co+op Grocers
Outstanding Company Award Winners
Alter Eco won an award for Outstanding Company for its commitment to developing a scalable agroforestry model. The company measures and manages its full carbon footprint from direct operations to supply chains. Alter Eco has a commitment to be carbon neutral--and aims to do even better than that. To achieve this goal, the company is partnering with PUR Projet on reforestation projects in its supply chain, and with the ACOPAGRO cooperative to strategically plant native trees, sequestering CO2, replenishing the forest canopy, increasing biodiversity, protecting against soil erosion, and preserving the fragile ecosystem.
Veritable Vegetable received an Outstanding Company Award for its comprehensive and successful approach to reducing emissions throughout its fleet and warehouses. Veritable Vegetable's hybrid tractors and trailors increase the distributor's fuel economy by an impressive 35% and produce almost zero emissions. On-site roof solar panels also generate 1/3 of the company's electricity needs.
"As a values-driven company, Veritable Vegetable is committed to doing business with integrity and excellence while considering our impact on the community and environment. We are invested in reducing our carbon footprint, increasing our fuel economy, and decreasing our emissions, at every level of our company. Because our green fleet travels over 1.9 million miles a year, we employ the latest technology and equipment. We adopt efficient practices, such as ensuring that our trucks are full in every direction, maximizing every mile on the road to reduce the amount of fuel used. We find innovative ways to support our community of farmers, retailers, and regional partners. We believe in using the power of business to support environmental and social change." - Mary Jane Evans, CEO, Veritable Vegetable
Organic Valley was awarded an Outstanding Company award for the work it’s done as part of its recent community solar project. The Community Solar Partnership (OVCSP) is a first-of-its-kind collaboration between the namesake farmer-owned cooperative, solar developer One Energy Renewables, and the Upper Midwest Municipal Energy Group (UMMEG), a joint action agency representing 15 electricity providers.
The Partnership will result in more than 12 MW of solar installations for Organic Valley facilities, and will support the addition of more solar in other nearby communities, bringing the total of new solar installations to roughly 29 MW. Not only will this enable Organic Valley to reach its goal of becoming 100 percent renewably powered by the end of 2019, but it will also increase solar energy use in the state by 15 percent!
"Our future demands bold new thinking about our sources of energy, and there is nothing more natural to a farmer than harnessing the power of the sun and the wind," - George Siemon, CEO and a founding farmer of Organic Valley
Community Food Co-op
Community Food Co-op won an Outstanding Company award for its efforts around renewable energy, improving efficiency, reducing waste and fostering resilient, regenerative farming communities. The company has a 126-panel solar array at its LEED-certified Cordata store, which has saved around $3,500 over the past five years. The store has two (free to use!) electric car charging stations and offers its customers incentives for using alternative transportation to travel to its stores.
The co-op also has a Farm Fund for local farmers to receive grants and low-interest loans. The Farm Fund works to increase the supply of local, sustainable, and organic food by supporting and establishing projects that benefit the local farming community.
“We strongly believe that the decisions we make can create a ripple effect, so the climate initiatives that the Community Food Co-op chooses to endeavor are an integral part of our business structure because we feel they are a great way to show respect to our community and the environment.” - Melissa Elkins, Sustainability Coordinator
Outstanding Value Chain Engagement Award Winners
Lotus Foods received an award for Outstanding Value Chain Engagement for its commitment to the development and implementation of the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) production within its supply chain, including supplier training consumer education about SRI’s benefits. By keeping the soil in rice fields moist and fertile but not flooded, SRI production significantly increases crop yields, cuts water needs and reduces methane gas (one of the most potent contributors to climate change) emissions by a whopping 40%!
"We're thrilled that our efforts to support the System of Rice Intensification, what we call More Crop Per Drop ™, are being recognized. This rice growing method allows family farmers to increase rice yields without new seeds or chemical inputs, while dramatically reducing water use, methane gas emissions and women's labor. Since 2009, our retail success with our More Crop Per Drop™-grown rice proves that mitigating climate change through this kind of innovative sourcing strategy is a win-win for businesses, farmers and the planet." - Caryl Levine and Ken Lee,Lotus Foods Co-CEOs and Co-Founders
Guayaki received an Outstanding Value Chain award for its 22-year record of being a carbon-positive company, achieved by working toward reductions within its direct operations and across the company's value chain. "Guayakí third party life cycle analysis shows that after growing the yerba mate and adding up all of the carbon emissions, guayakí is subtracting carbon from the environment. For example, your purchase of one pound of loose guayakí yerba mate reduces atmospheric co2 by 573g," per the company’s web site.
Through Guayaki's co-participatory partnerships, the company has helped to protect and restore 130,000 acres of South American Atlantic rainforest and created almost 900 living wage jobs. Those rainforest acres store a lot of carbon, so the company sequesters more than twice the carbon emissions emitted from its overall processing, packaging and transportation.
Outstanding Influencer Award Winners
Albert Straus, Organic Dairy Farmer/Founder & CEO of Straus Family Creamery, has been awarded an Outstanding Influencer award for his role as an advocate for organic, non-GMO dairy production, environmental stewardship, and family farms. The Straus Dairy Farm became the first certified organic dairy farm west of the Mississippi River in 1994, and, in the same year, Straus founded Straus Family Creamery – the first 100% certified organic creamery in the United States. Straus has been a leader in sustainable farming practices, with the aim of creating a viable model for organic dairy farms.
These initiatives include a methane digester, which converts cow waste into renewable energy; a carbon farming program, designed to measure and optimize carbon capture; and an extensive water-reuse system, which recycles waste water from the Creamery. In July 2017, Straus launched the world’s first full-scale electric feed truck—powered by cow manure! This electric feed truck is the next step in Straus’s quest to show that his organic dairy farm can be carbon positive, using agriculture as a solution to reversing climate change.
“I am honored to receive this award which recognizes organic farming’s essential role in fighting climate change. On my dairy farm, I have tried to create a replicable farming system that will encourage other farmers to take action, enabling producers concerned about climate change to focus both on quality food production and environmental sustainability. Sustainable organic farming practices are a symbol of the resourcefulness we need to help protect the health of our planet and people and the future of American farming.” - Albert Straus, Farmer, Founder & CEO, Straus Family Creamery
Clif Bar & Company
Clif Bar & Company received an award for Outstanding Influencer in recognition of the company's work on organic research, policy advocacy, transportation, and renewable energy.
Clif Bar treats energy like an ingredient. The company sources 100% renewable power for electricity at all its facilities. Clif Bar also offers free consulting to help its supply chain transition to green power through its 50/50 by 2020 program. The goal of the program is to transition 50 of its key supply chain facilities to 50% or more green power for the electricity generated to make Clif Bar’s ingredients, packaging, products and services by the year 2020. To date, there are 42 participating facilities, and Clif Bar is 84% of the way toward meeting its goal.
Clif Bar’s Cool Commute program, pictured above, rewards employees for walking, riding bikes or taking public transit, and subsidizes employee purchases of fuel-efficient, hybrid and all-electric cars (430 purchased to date). Recognizing the need to build the climate movement beyond its four walls, Clif Bar actively advocates for support of organic agriculture in the Farm Bill and works with partners like Ceres and Protect Our Winters to advocate for effective climate policy at the state and national level.
Clif Bar is also supporting research to drive innovation in the agricultural sector. The company is spearheading a $10 million investment to fund five endowed chairs focused on organic agricultural research. In January 2018, together with King Arthur Flour and several community partners, Clif Bar announced the funding of a second endowment: a $1.5 million gift that will allow The Bread Lab at Washington State University to continue breeding grains adapted to organic farming practices in perpetuity. Check out the video below to learn more.