Local steps toward a smaller global footprint
Sustainability is a hot topic when it comes to putting our money where our mouths are these days.
As consumers, we often equate sustainability with green and earth-conscious practices or organic production.
But what does it mean exactly when a restaurant or product claims to be sustainable?
This year the Swedish food and restaurant industry took two major steps to help us see more clearly exactly what’s at stake.
Last January KRAV, which manages the certification and standardization of organic food in Sweden, joined forces with the White Guide to create an award for sustainable gastronomy.
They also designed a way of grading restaurants according to sustainability, making it easy for consumers to support restaurants who made the cut.
The second major development was the establishment of a manifesto by the Swedish Food Federation (Livsmedelsforetagen).
The federation’s members span 800 companies, representing all aspects of the food industry.
The manifesto clarifies what it means to be sustainable in the food industry and includes a set of goals.
“It’s a living document that takes the long view,” says Johan Anell, the federation’s CSR and sustainability manager.
“With the manifesto, the industry plans to show that it is modern, long-sighted, and competitive when it comes to producing food in an environmentally-friendly and ethical way.”
The manifesto also gives the industry a platform for discussions with politicians, environmental organizations and other interest groups that Anell says will help push the agenda.
While some companies may have needed the extra push that the manifesto provides, many are already global leaders in sustainability.
According to Johan Anell, the weakest link in the journey to sustainability in the food industry is the consumer.
At the end of the day, products that are made in a more sustainable way cost more to produce and restaurants that buy those products must charge higher prices.
“If the consumer is going to pay extra for those products, they need to know what it means for a product to be sustainable,” says Anell.
“Consumers need to know the difference between Fair Trade and the Rain Forest Alliance, for example.
“Most importantly, they need to understand the extra value they are paying for and why it’s better for them and the planet.”