2019 Climate Awards Offer a Glimpse of the Future of Food

By: Co+op
Farmers harvest fresh chamomile at the Brindavan Farm in Lucknow, India. The chamomile is grown using regenerative agriculture practices that improve biodiversity and soil quality.

Whether it’s thousands of purple-haired rainforest protectors or just one parent enjoying their usual breakfast on the run, natural product companies in the United States are empowering people to make a difference in the world and enjoy every minute of it.

Food—how it is grown, produced, transported, used and thrown away—has a huge impact on our climate. Because good, sustainable food is our bread and butter (so to speak), food co-ops are working together on a national level to organize and influence the natural products industry to prioritize climate action.

As a pioneering supporter and participant in the Climate Collaborative, National Co+op Grocers (a national co-op owned by food co-ops) underwrites annual awards to identify and highlight inspiring stories of people taking bold, meaningful action within our food system to slow climate change. Check out this year’s National Co+op Grocers Climate Collaborative Award winners, selected from a pool of companies, co-ops and individuals nominated for innovation and excellence in climate leadership.

Outstanding Company Awards

Dr. Bronner’s: A Soapmaker Dedicated to Cleaning up the Climate

Dr. Bronner’s logopx If you’ve ever used one of Dr. Bronner’s super gentle, fair trade organic soaps then you know what a pleasure cleaning up can be. In a rainbow of mood-boosting scents like peppermint, rose, citrus and tea tree, Dr. Bronner’s makes soaps to delight every body—and that includes the farmers who grew the ingredients to the people who package and sell it. In addition to factories 100% powered by renewable energy, Dr. Bronner’s is a pioneer of regenerative organic agriculture, and is leading the natural products industry towards embracing it as the future of farming. Their efforts to support and expand sustainable palm oil production is transforming one of the most environmentally damaging areas of food production into a way we can effectively slow global warming.

Glen’s Garden Market: Making Climate Change Progress One Bite at a Time

Glen’s Garden Market logopx Being an informed consumer can be more than a full-time job—yet we know that voting with our dollars is an effective way to make a difference in the world. People in the Washington, D.C. area have a little help, at least when it comes to healthy, delicious food. The mission of Glen’s Garden Market is to “make climate change progress…by serving good food from close by.” The zero-food-waste grocer takes a holistic approach to serving locally and sustainably grown food, draws on solar energy to help minimize emissions and offsets the rest through the  Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Their commitment to sourcing from small, local producers and businesses has helped launch over 80 food entrepreneurs, all of whose products meet Glen’s standards for quality and minimal environmental impact.

Nature’s Path: Granola So Good, There’s Zero Waste

Nature’s Path logopx While it’s true that the merits of Nature’s Path Love Crunch Dark Chocolate & Peanut Butter organic granola speak for themselves (peanut butter + chocolate, need we say more?), the company is pushing more than the boundary between indulgent and wholesome. Nature’s Path is deeply committed to minimizing environmental impact, with zero waste certified production plants, major packaging reductions that include sourcing 97% of packaging (by weight) from recycled sources, and reconfigured pallet sizes that maximize space on their delivery trucks, reducing distribution emissions. In addition, Nature’s Path partners with How2Recycle, a coalition of companies seeking to increase recycling rates by improved packaging labels that reduce customer confusion.

Organic India: Infusing People and Planet with Plant Power

Organic India logopx “Stress-relieving and magical” is how Organic India describes their heady, luxurious Tulsi Sweet Rose infusion, just one of their many hot beverages and supplements that more than delivers on its claims. We’d expect no less from a company known for integrity, quality and a deep respect for the environment. To date, the company has partnered with 2,500 small family farmers to convert over 20,000 acres of farmland using regenerative organic agricultural practices that sequester more carbon, slowing global warming. Want to learn more about how agriculture impacts the climate? Organic India invites you to visit their unique online environmental education program where you can learn about organic agriculture, fair trade, herbal medicine and self-care, then earn points for free products. 

PCC Markets: Committed to Community and Creating a Better World

PCC Markets logopx From kombucha to craft beer, new plant-based proteins to old world charcuterie—whatever your food fixation, you’ll find it at PCC Community Markets, a chain of eleven community-owned co-op grocery stores in and around Seattle, Washington. The co-op’s commitment to serving their community carries through to operations, too, where they’ve achieved carbon-neutral store operations by purchasing 100% renewable energy for all locations. Statewide, they co-chair Washington Business for Climate Action and are helping push forward climate-friendly policies, including a bill on carbon soil sequestration. The co-op has given over $1 million to support agriculture practices that sequester carbon in the soil through their PCC Farmland Trust.

Outstanding Value Chain Awards

REBBL: Shaking Up the Beverage Market for Good

REBBL logopx With a name like REBBL, you have to expect the unexpected—but there’s just no way to prepare yourself for how good REBBL’s healthy elixirs and protein shakes are. Rich and creamy, full of plant power, these beverages aren’t just good for you, they’re good for us all. Thanks to REBBL’s mission to end human trafficking, they have turned their attention to mitigating climate change, one of its root causes. They address it by monitoring their supply chain practices and deepening relationships with their suppliers. Called the “REBBL Supplier Ethos,” the company is driving constant improvement and transparency in their supply chain and sharing that story with their fans. Recent product launches have been specifically geared towards reversing deforestation and promoting regenerative agriculture within their supply chain.

Sambazon: Purple is the Color of a True Fan’s Hair

Sambazon logoIf you’ve ever had an açaí bowl made with Sambazon’s organic, fair trade açaí superfruit packs or frozen sorbet, then you understand—the sweet, nutritious treat is a giddy pleasure for breakfast as much as it is for dessert. Sambazon, the company that has made açaí a “household berry,” harnesses the berry’s purple power to make an enormous positive impact on the Amazon rainforest, a key place we can slow global warming. Their successful #PurpleForThePlanet social media campaign recently challenged fans to dye their hair purple and post a pic on social media, for every person that did, Sambazon protected 5 acres of Amazon rainforest. Thousands of violet-haired volunteers rose to the challenge and Sambazon protected 126,270 acres in 30 days! Now that’s what we call “using your head” to inspire climate action in a fun, approachable way!

Outstanding Influencer Awards

Nancy Hirshberg: Climate Superhero

Nancy Hirshberg photopx Have you ever met a real life superhero? Someone who works tirelessly behind the scenes to make the world a better place? When it comes to the climate, Nancy Hirshberg is just such a hero—her 25-year record of climate leadership means that she has been involved in major environmental breakthroughs for business from creating the first non-utility carbon offset program, to developing the country’s first program to decrease methane emissions from cow burps during her tenure at Stonyfield Organic. She is founder and Chief Catalyst at Hirshberg Strategic, a sustainability consulting firm in the Boston area. She has helped dozens of companies and individuals realize the potential of business to drive positive change in the world, including helping to launch the Climate Collaborative.

Want more? Check out our 2018 winners.

About the Awards

National Co+op Grocers Climate Collaborative Awards seek to broadcast and promote stories of companies and individuals taking bold action within our food system to help slow, or even reverse, climate change. The awards acknowledge that sharing innovative solutions and rewarding leadership can inspire others to make positive changes. National Co+op Grocers (the co-op behind this website) and the Climate Collaborative hope that you will be as inspired by these stories as we are!

Photo courtesy of ORGANIC INDIA, 2019 National Co+op Grocers Climate Collaborative award winner.