Better Nutrition January 2020

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PASSION BEHIND THE PRODUCT *

companies fostering personal & global well-being

The Food Side of Things

Patagonia, the popular outdoor clothing retailer, has expanded its

vision of socially responsible business into the world of sustainably

produced foods

BY NEIL ZEVNIK

If you’re an outdoorsy sort of person, you

probably know Patagonia as a purveyor

of high-end, environmentally conscious

activewear. But what you may not know

is that Patagonia has extended its “rescue

the planet” mission into the food sector

with Patagonia Provisions—and the

world will (hopefully) never be the same.

At any rate, that’s the goal of founder

Yvon Chouinard and his Managing

Director Birgit Cameron. After years

of dealing with agriculture in terms of

fabrics and supply chains, it became

apparent that, as Cameron notes,

“food agriculture is one of the biggest

reasons for the climate issues we are

facing today.” So it became imperative

to “tackle the food side of things, to go

beyond our mission of building the best

product and causing the least amount of

harm” to an even greater goal. “We’re in

business to save our whole planet, and

every single choice you make really has

to come from that place.”

Cameron has food “in her

genes,” as she laughingly explains,

with her father and grandfather

leading the way. So utilizing her

life-long expertise with food in

service of her environmental

consciousness was a no-brainer.

12 •

JANUARY 2020

make it!

Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard (left) and Managing Director Birgit Cameron are

taking sustainable business practices to a whole new level. “We’re in business to

save our whole planet,” says Cameron.

Determined Development

Their first product was wild sockeye

salmon, sustainably sourced from

family- and community-operated

Alaskan fisheries. This was followed by

pink salmon obtained via the old-school

reef-net method of the Lummi

tribe in Washington that avoids

by-catch and prevents

crowding and damage

Get to the fish.

the recipe

Then they moved

for Neil’s Pink

Salmon Toasts at from sea to land,

betternutrition. and became even

com more courageously

aspirational—they

partnered with the

Rodale Institute to establish an

international certification program

for Regenerative Organic Agriculture,

now in pilot programs across the

globe. “In terms of ecosystems, we

don’t need to re-engineer everything,”

explains Cameron. “What we have to

do is understand how they actually

work, and work with them. Then we will

have an abundance of food.”

Patagonia’s Buffalo Jerky fell in

line with these beliefs, produced from

free-roaming American bison. The

company expanded into even more

arenas—organic soups, breakfast grains,

more seafood (including mussels), and

fruit-and-nut bars. All of these offerings

are organic, sustainably sourced, “clean,”

and produced in service of Patagonia’s

ambitious goal to save the planet.

But for Cameron, as for all of the

dedicated people at Patagonia, these

global ideals all come down to the personal,

to the urgency of the dilemmas facing

us on all sides today. “Having children

of my own … well, there’s nothing like

that to emphasize, to punctuate the need

to do something about the state of our

planet. This is a journey that is incredibly

inspiring, and provides a lot of hope.”

Food that delights, satisfies, and

provides hope—surely we need more

of that.

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