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How to Buy Sustainable Food

By Jenn Randazzo, MS RD on September 15, 2014

How to Buy Sustainable Food

As professional smoothie-makers, we’re always creating new, delicious treats with a variety of ingredients.  From nut butters to omega oil blends, we are constantly pushing the envelope in pursuit of the best next treat! Along with taste and nutritional considerations, we also think about something else equally important: sustainable food.

What is sustainable food?

We define sustainable food as food that is produced in a way that is good for people and the environment.  This means that anyone or anything that is affected in its production is affected in such a way that does not harm them.

At Vega, we take sustainability seriously. This means integrating sustainability into everything we do, like using 96% post-consumer recycled plastic in our tubs.  As a Certified B Corp, we “meet the highest standards of verified overall social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability and aspire to use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems”.

While trying to source as many ingredients from local sources as possible, like making your own almond milk and buying local produce from the weekly farmers’ market, some ingredients just can’t be sourced from the 100-mile radius that surrounds you.

Tropical fruits, like coconut and pineapple, have to come from the area in which they grow best.  But just because they are a little more remote, doesn’t mean they’re off limits.  We just need to know how to “shop for tropics” sustainably... and here’s how!

Loof for certified sustainable produce

You may have noticed some labels and symbols on tropical foods beyond just organic and gluten-free. These are the top third-party certifications to look for:

1. Fair Trade USA

Fair Trade USA, a non-profit organization, is a third-party certifier of fair trade products that audits and certifies transactions between domestic companies and their international suppliers to ensure that farmers and workers were paid fair prices and wages, work in safe conditions all while conserving the environment.

2. Rainforest Alliance

The Rainforest Alliance is an international non-profit conservation organization that certifies farms, ensuring that they meet rigorous standards for the conservation of natural resources and the rights and welfare of workers and local communities.

3. Fairtrade International

Fairtrade International is a global non-profit organization comprised of regional producer networks that supports local environmental responsibility, better prices, labor rights and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world.

Ask employees at your local grocery store and farmers’ markets more about the farming practices of their produce—both local and tropical. If you’re buying a packaged food or supplement, give the company a call to learn more. The more you know, the better decisions you can make.

Just because you don’t live in the tropics doesn’t mean you can’t use them in your favorite recipes and beauty routine. Sourcing these fruits from certified growers who partner with sustainability advocates can be a way for your to enjoy these and feel good about it!  So, the next time you are at the store, be sure to ask about the sustainability practices! Ask questions, and purchase those tropical goodies in a sustainable way!

More info about living sustainably

Find more tips about creating and sustaining a plant-based family or learn how to make your smoothies more green (both literally and metaphorically).

How do you incorporate sustainability into your life?

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