At Nature’s Path, we hold ourselves accountable for doing what’s best for people and the planet. Of course, protecting the earth is a big job. Luckily, we’ve got great partners like tentree, whose comfy Earth-First essentials are changing the way we think about everyday items like clothing and textiles to protect the world we play in. With their help (and yours), we’re out to shake things up and create a cleaner, greener future.
Besides constantly looking at innovative ways to make apparel with the smallest possible footprint and create more circular supply chains, tentree is on a mission to plant 1 billion trees. Why? Because it’s one of the best ways to create a more sustainable future. We agree. That’s why on April 1st, we became Planet Partners and set out on a mission to support tentree by planting up to 100,000 trees—10 trees for every item purchased through our website in the US. We also sat down with tentree to talk about our goals surrounding sustainability, the organic movement, and food security. Read the interview below.
Q: Tell us a little bit about Nature’s Path.
Nature’s Path Foods, Inc. is a fiercely independent, family-owned business that has been committed to organics and sustainability since the day it opened in the back of a Vancouver vegetarian restaurant in 1985. In that time, Nature’s Path has become a trusted name for quality organic foods by adhering to a triple-bottom line of being socially responsible, environmentally sustainable, and financially viable – in that order. Through these core pillars, Nature’s Path is on a mission to “leave the earth better than we found it” which is the guiding principle for everything the company does.
With a product line of over 150 delightfully nutritious cold cereals, granolas, oatmeal, waffles, tortilla chips, salsa, and more, Nature’s Path is the largest organic breakfast and snack food brand in North America, and is sold in more than 50 countries around the world. Brands within the Nature’s Path family include Love Crunch, Qi’a, Que Pasa, and EnviroKidz. All Nature’s Path products are Certified Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified, and are made with wholesome, premium ingredients that nourish consumers in a healthy and delicious way.
Nature’s Path believes that everyone has a right to organic food, regardless of circumstance. Over the past 11 years, the company has donated more than $40 million to food banks, endangered species, community organic gardens, school gardens, frontline workers, children’s hospitals, and other organizations in need across North America.
Q: What has sustainability looked like practically for Nature’s Path? What are your sustainability goals for the future?
Our mission is to Leave the Earth Better than you found it, and every day we strive to move closer to this, whether it’s through the food we make or the causes and communities we support.
Nature’s Path has a series of sustainability goals and targets that are part of our strategic and annual business planning process. Nature’s Path was the first North American cereal company to have our manufacturing facilities Zero Waste certified and we are committed to making all our packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. Making bold and ambitious commitments and engaging our internal teams to achieve them is a powerful way to solve complex issues.
We are also doing our best to mitigate our contribution to the climate crisis. Since 2008, we have supported 100% renewable energy for all of our operations and head office, and since our inception, have always used organic and regenerative farming practices. All of these things help to reduce our carbon impact.
We’re grateful to have dedicated industry partners that are collaborating to support climate initiatives. These partners include the Climate Collaborative, OSC2, the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, the CERES BICEP Network, and the Catalyst Business Coalition in Canada.
Q: While we know sustainability requires an everyday effort, Earth Month is a powerful time to amplify earth-first causes. Are you doing anything special for Earth Month?
In honor of Earth Month, we always plan a Live Green Week with our team. Our green week is a sustainability-driven event dedicated to helping team members achieve their personal sustainability goals, or “green pledges”. Team members are encouraged all week to collect garbage around their workplace’s neighborhood, clean up the organic garden, and share their creative recycling techniques and tips. All week all team members host virtual or in-person sessions and either share an organic, vegetarian company sponsored meal or learn together a bout climate change through documentaries and TED Talks. We will be sharing more about this event on social media to inspire our audience as well!
As part of our 2021 Earth Month celebration and in partnership with tentree, Nature’s Path is also planting 10 trees for every item sold on www.naturespath.com during the month of April 2021 (up to 100,000 trees). (Includes all of our brands: Nature’s Path, Love Crunch, EnviroKidz and Que Pasa).
Q: What is a sustainable food system? How does Nature’s Path approach it?
We see organic farming as the best example of a sustainable food system. A meaningful system that takes care of the people and the planet:
- Organic farming rebuilds soil health and stops harmful chemicals from getting into our water supplies. Water and soil are two extremely important resources necessary for growing food.
- Organic farmers don’t rely on non-renewable oil-based fertilizers and pesticides we may not always have access to.
- Organic farming results in greater biodiversity.
- Organic farming releases fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
Supporting the organic and Fair Trade growers who supply us with the ingredients that go into our products is one of the main ways we`re able to help grow the sustainable food systems, and by extension chemical-free agriculture. We also look to actively engage and educate consumers about the impact that organic food has on their health and on the health of the planet including the threat of genetically modiﬁed ingredients (GMOs) encroaching into our food system. We hope for a world where organic and Fair Trade are the standards, not the exception.
Q: What’s the impact of organic farming over conventional farming? We’d love to see some stats!
Many mindful consumers struggle with food decisions about which is better: local, conventionally grown food or organic food. The distance food travels to reach your plate accounts for only around 11% of its carbon footprint, whereas how it was grown (organic vs conventional) makes up a whopping 83%. So choose local and organic when you can, but here again: organic is best choice.
Proponents of toxic pesticides like glyphosate defend their use saying the chemicals that end up in food products is negligible. We now know this to be untrue – with testing done by the Environmental Working Group finding higher levels of glyphosate in some children’s cereals than the vitamins added for health benefits.
Although the realities of glyphosate are bleak, the good news is that a switch to organic food can have an almost immediate impact on your health. Participants in a recent peer-reviewed study changed from a diet consisting of primarily non-organic food to completely organic and saw a 70% reduction in the pesticide glyphosate in their bodies after only seven days.
Q: What standards do you meet at Nature’s Path to make sure that human, wildlife and the planet aren’t harmed?
Here are some of our specific actions and standards we are following:
- All of our products are certified organic and therefore aren’t grown using synthetic nitrogen-based fertilizers, which releases nitrous oxide, an extremely potent greenhouse gas
- Our facilities are Zero waste certified
- Supporting renewable energy since 2008 by purchasing renewable energy credits for all the electricity we consume.
- We source 100% Fair Trade-certified cocoa and chocolate ingredients for our products
- We implemented projects in our facilities to reduce electricity and natural gas consumption
- We have taken a public stand that the government put a price on carbon
- We supported the youth global climate strike by encouraging Team members to use paid time to attend, sharing movement messages through our channels, and donating to 350.org
- We support Regenerative Organic Agriculture — and our family’s Legend Organic Farm we are actively investing in farming technologies and initiatives to sequester carbon in the soil
- 95 percent of our shipments that can use rail do use rail
- Currently, we have achieved 97 percent of our sustainable packaging commitments by weight, with a commitment to 100% by 2025
- We provide training to all team members on our 6 sustainability pillars to learn how they can individually contribute to our sustainability performance
- We have an extensive Give-Back programs that have given back $40 million in funds and food to communities in need
Q: How do you see healthy food becoming more accessible, and how has Nature’s Path been a part of that?
Even though organic food may cost more than non-organic food, we have to think about the hidden costs of chemical agriculture and eating non-organic food in the long-run. While organic prices may appear more expensive today, that won’t always be the case. Shifts in the global economy stand to close the gap between conventional and organic products, exposing the Achilles’ heel of conventional farming. They have artificially low pricing dependent on a brief and quickly ending era of cheap fossil fuels, and government policies (such as commodity crop subsidies) that benefit large-scale, monocrop farming. As these foundational elements of modern agriculture shift, organic is better-suited to weather the changes.
We believe everyone has the right to quality organic food and that’s why we maintain an annual commitment of donating $2 million worth of food to those in need. We also provide financial support to urban gardening projects who grow fresh organic food and who help nurture their communities.
Since 2010 Nature’s Path has been celebrating and supporting these community gardens who are making such an impact through our Gardens for Good program. Over the last ten years Nature’s Path has been honored to support 30 incredible organic garden projects and the wonderful work they do. This year, we expanded our Gardens for Good program to 21 additional gardens in honor of 2021.
Q: Can you share some tips for people looking to live more sustainably when it comes to their food and beverage choices?
- Choose organic foods and beverages at every available opportunity.
- Choose plant-based foods when you can.
- Reduce the amount of food waste you create by either composting or better planning.
- Support companies committed to organic – follow them on social media, talk about their efforts, their products or services, and help with their awareness efforts. Remember that these companies are your allies for your health – and the health of the planet.