While many people choose to eat organic for health reasons, an important aspect of personal health that often is overlooked in this discussion is our natural environment. If the environment is polluted or thrown out of balance, then our health will unavoidably be at risk, so it’s important to understand how organic farming is kinder to the environment.
Organic farming helps keep toxic and persistent chemicals out of the air, water, and soil. It promotes a healthy, balanced ecosystem and encourages biodiversity while also helping to reduce soil erosion. It’s safer for the people who farm the land, as well as for the homes, school and businesses nearby.
Studies also show that organic farming helps curb the ozone-depleting greenhouse gases that cause global warming. The soils on organic farms are much higher in organic matter, which pulls carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) out of the atmosphere and holds it in the soil. Read more here.
All of this helps shape our belief that by transitioning more acres of farmland to organic acres, the better to make a meaningful impact on the environment. In our more than 30 years, Earthbound Farm has grown from 2 ½ to 30,000 acres, and we’re proud of the difference that makes for our planet.
In the produce world, the unfortunate reality of dealing with highly perishable, fresh food and a complex harvesting and manufacturing process is that a portion of what we make will never see store shelves. There are a variety of reasons for this – ranging from the inherent by-product of harvesting and cutting our greens, to produce that doesn’t meet our high quality standards, to finished product that expires before we can sell it. However, at Earthbound Farm, we are always thinking creatively, with the environment and our communities in mind, to minimize this waste the best we can. Read more about that below.
Clean Labels, Real Food
The world is recognizing the importance of nutritious and more sustainable diets, driven by the increase in global population and rise of nutrition-relate diseases.
Earthbound Farm is lucky to be in an “evergreen” food category, so to speak. Diet fads will come and go, but few nutritionists will argue the general merits of adding more vegetables and fruit to your diet. All of us at Earthbound Farm are very passionate about bringing such real, simple food to your table, as the important building blocks to wholesome lifestyle.
What can you expect from Earthbound Farm?
Offsetting Our Environmental Impacts
In addition to looking for opportunities to reduce our environmental footprint at every turn, Earthbound Farm also helps offset some of the impacts inherent in our business. For example, we help offset the carbon emissions of our processing plant’s energy usage by planting trees with American Forests. Since 1999, Earthbound Farm has planted more than 740,000 trees, which will absorb about 337,000 tons of CO2 during their lifetimes.
Earthbound Farm is part of the WhiteWave Foods family of brands, an independent, leading consumer packaged food and beverage company committed to Changing the Way the World Eats for The Better®. As part of WhiteWave, we are well positioned to continue to innovate and fulfill the mission of our founders to bring more organic happiness to more people. Learn more about WhiteWave’s commitment to corporate social responsibility.
When we harvest produce, despite our best efforts, not everything makes it into our collection bins. Fortunately, as organic farmers, we know how to take what’s left behind and reuse it to keep our soils healthy. After a harvest, we leave the excess greens right where they land in the field, so they start to deteriorate on the top of the soil bed. Then, when the crew is done harvesting the field, we run tractors through and mix it all back in, which gives our soil more organic matter, naturally. This is an important part of how we continue to build the fertility and structure of our soils, which is critical to growing the highest quality produce. Learn more about the importance of soil health in organic production.
Once our raw greens make it to our manufacturing facility for washing and packaging, there are several reasons why we may end up with waste—which are captured at various points in the process—including receiving, manufacturing and packaging. Waste can include raw or finished product that doesn’t meet our stringent quality standards; “culls”, which result from trimming romaine to make it consumer-ready; leaves and other debris that may simply fall to the wayside during their journey through the plant; or, finished product that is approaching or has surpassed its use-by dates. How the waste is handled depends on the kind of waste:
We get a lot of questions about our packaging and why we have to use “so much” or even “any” plastic. Well, the reality is, our plastic packaging – which we lovingly refer to as the “clamshell” because of how it opens – is critical to bringing you the freshest possible product we can. When you harvest a highly perishable and delicate leafy green and have very little time to get it on store shelves, you have to carefully protect it as it moves from the field to its final destination from all the elements along the way. This includes protecting the leaves from damage, such as bruising; or exposure to extreme moisture, temperatures, debris or other contaminants. In other words, plastic containers are critical to getting you the fresh, delicious, safe and quality food you’ve come to expect from us and helps minimize food waste, which is a serious problem in our country.
We’ve always been on the forefront of packaging innovation in the salad category. Not only did we help popularize the clamshell packaging back in 2004, but we’ve also worked steadfastly ever since then to reduce its environmental footprint and make it as ecologically-minded as possible, while maintaining its functionality. Earthbound Farm remains an industry leader today—nearly all of our clamshell packaging is made from post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic bottles, a practice we pioneered within the category in 2009.
We think that post-consumer recycled materials are the most ecological packaging choice. The recycled materials use significantly less energy and water to produce than virgin plastic and generate far fewer GHG emissions.* And because our clamshells are made from PET — the most widely recycled plastic — they can be recycled again at facilities that are able to accept thermoformed PET. What’s more, an entire clamshell package is made with just a small handful of recycled (or PCR) plastic pellets and use far less plastic than you think!
Not able to recycle clamshells in your community? You can always grow your own salad with leftover Earthbound Farm clamshells. Learn how.
*Sustainable Packaging Coalition
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