Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Saga of Socially Responsible Sourcing – Chapter One. The Problem.

I work with small specialty and artisan cheese plants that are nestled in the rolling hills of southwestern Wisconsin.  They get their milk from small family farms.  One of my plants even takes milk in metal cans that the Amish deliver on horse-drawn wagons. 

So when it came time for me to develop our whey products, I really wanted to make sure that we knew where all of our ingredients came from.  One way people suggest that I do this is to source everything locally.  Nice idea, but I live in Wisconsin; it’s hard to get things like chocolate and vanilla locally.  These are the two most popular flavors for whey products, by far. Also, as someone who lives with indigenous people in the Amazon for fun, I know what a huge positive impact we can have when we responsibly source products from indigenous and other at risk communities around the world.  To me, the whole local food thing is really just another form of American myopia; I don’t believe that an apple grown within 10 miles of home that was drenched in pesticides and herbicides is better than an organic apple from Mexico because it didn’t travel as far.  It may actually use more petroleum based products than an organic apple from Mexico because apples are shipped in truckload quantities.  For me, knowing that I can make a huge positive impact in this world when I purchase things from people who are environmental and social stewards is far more important than distance.

After some effort, I still don’t know where all of my ingredients come from.  I am, however, a very persistent person, so I am determined to find a way to source with total transparency.  It may take me years to achieve this, so this is likely to be the first of a long series of stories  that will take me from the typical intentionally obfuscated way that food and supplement products get assembled in this world to an alternative that offers global transparency. 

1 comment:

  1. the whole local food thing is really just another form of American myopia.
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