Women in sustainable food

Women in sustainable food

July 30, 2018

Women in sustainable food

In the food sector, American businesswomen are choosing sustainability and business journals are giving them more and more prominence, highlighting an apparently niche strategy that is proving very successful.

In the United States alone, sustainable food sales rose to a record figure of 45.2 billion dollars in 2017, with an increase of 6.4% compared to the previous year. And many entrepreneurs are establishing successful businesses in the sustainable food industry - with a large number of women among them. Here are 10 of the many businesses led by women that have made their way into top magazines such as come Forbes, Interact, Fortune, and Time.

1. Sonoma Winegrowers

As President of Sonoma Winegrowers, Karissa Kruse is leading the wine business towards a completely sustainable future. In 2014, the organization committed to becoming 100 percent sustainable within five years; by 2017 this goal no longer looked so impossible, and Sonoma Winegrowers was 85% of the way there. Kruse recently announced the foundation of the Sonoma County Center for Ag Sustainability, a think tank bringing together experts from various Sonoma businesses for biennial sessions on the challenges facing agriculture.

2. Akua

Kelp seaweeds are rapidly gaining ground as a highly sustainable organic food source. Akua founder and CEO Courtney Boyd Meyers may be largely responsible for the launch and success of this marine snack. The best-selling product is called Kelp Jerky.  Actually looking like jerky, it is completely vegan with a high protein content and the seaweeds used to make it are harvested locally.

3. Handsome Brook Farm

From a crazy experiment with seven chickens at a B&B to an egg empire. Betsy Babcock does not only raise her Handsome Brook poultry with organic feeds; she also helps other small poultry farmers to do the same. The secret of a good egg is simply one of space: the hens are given the freedom and room to move around and not constrained into the frenetic rhythms of factory farms.

4. EPIC Provisions

The EPIC Provisions product range runs from energy bars to ready-made stocks, and the company specializes in products of animal origin (they also sell fat and skin, since the animal must be used "from nose to tail"). Strange, because co-founder and President Katie Forrest used to be 100 percent vegetarian, but when she developed serious nutritional deficiencies after years of dieting she realized she needed to start eating animal proteins. And animal welfare is central to the business she founded, where factory farms are banned. EPIC also collaborates with The Savory Institute, a no-profit organization working to promote sustainable farming.

5. Once Upon A Farm

Once Upon a Farm is a family-run food business with low environmental impact specializing in foods for babies and kids. Finding time to cook delicious, nourishing meals can be stressful and difficult for working mothers, and there used to be very few or no fresh, safe baby foods on the market. This is what led Cassandra Curtis to found Once Upon a Farm, with the support of the other founding partners, Jennifer Garner, John Foraker and Ari Raz.

6. Barney Butter

Almonds, almonds and yet more almonds! This sums up Barney Butter, led by Dawn Kelley, which specializes in almond butter, a valid alternative for the many peanut allergy sufferers in a country like the United States, where peanut butter is a national symbol. Barney Butter has quickly grown from an insignificant brand to a company with sales of more than 20 million dollars, selling its products through about 15,000 stores. Kelley also works on the creative side of Barney Butter, developing the marketing behind the products, which although notoriously ranked as junk food actually offer quality ingredients and high nutritional values.

7. Birch Benders

Undoubtedly, breakfast pancakes are another major standard of American cuisine. And for pancake lovers, Birch Benders offers completely natural toppings, sold both freeze-dried and frozen and produced with low environmental impact. Birch Benders has introduced high-protein, vegan and gluten-free variants.

8. B’More Organic

As the basis for its line of smoothies, B'More uses skyr, a low-fat organic cheese that tastes and looks very much like yogurt, used in Icelandic cuisine. Jennifer Buerger started the business with her husband in 2010, and has achieved B Corp certification to prove that B’More has another mission as well as making money: to help the community and the planet. Amongst its many initiatives n this area, B’More Organic donates 1 per cent of turnover to charitable health projects. 

9. Hana Tonic

Herself a motion sickness sufferer, Renee Louis-Charles has come to the aid of everyone who has to live with being car-sick, sea-sick, and so on. Directly from Hawaii, she has developed an anti-sickness solution consisting of natural ingredients such as pineapple, lemon, ginger and Cayenne pepper. 

10. Teatulia

As co-founder and CEO, Linda Appel Lipsius has helped Teatulia to set many records: the company was the first to import tea to the United States from Bangladesh and to achieve locally certified organic grower status. Through its own cooperative, Teatulia also supplies health and food education to employees, as well as to the surrounding communities, along the Indian border and in the Himalayan foothills, contributing to social development. Teatulia containers are recyclable and its teabags are compostable (they are made from corn or unbleached paper) and, to minimize waste, they have no unnecessary packaging.

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