Appreciating Socially Responsible Food Businesses by Olivia Coleman

Looking deeply into our plate at each ingredient, thinking about its preparation, journey, and source, is a key practice of mindful eating. Cooking at home for ourselves and for our families is the easiest way to have the most control over the preparation. But when it comes to the history of the ingredients—unless you’ve grown them yourself—it can be harder to get the full picture. Quite a bit of insight can be gained by shopping mindfully, yet even when we scan labels and make inquiries into the source, retailers and suppliers can be less than transparent. This is all the more reason to commend the businesses that are employing responsible and sustainable practices.

Melissa’s, the self-described “freshest ideas in produce” company, seeks and supplies unique and seasonal fruits and vegetables from all over the world. Their marketing goes beyond point of origin to provide the consumer with recipes, serving suggestions, and nutritional information. From dragon fruit to kale sprouts, their offerings are sure to inspire.

While transparency is even rarer when it comes to dining out, Evolution Fresh seeks to change that perception. The Starbucks-acquired, cold-pressed juice company sources 93% of their fresh produce from the western U.S., 82% of which is grown within 400 miles of their juicery. They’ve also opened a few restaurants, and I recently paid a visit to their Seattle location. The restaurant emphasizes fresh and healthy dishes and drinks, served in a way that enables city dwellers to grab a healthy snack when time is limited.

Evolution Fresh has a menu that’s full of ingredient packages that you can choose to put in in a salad, soup, or wrap—my current favorite being the Kale, Quinoa & Butternut-Squash mix. I also chose a delectable green juice, containing celery, apple, cucumber, and spinach.

Thanks to mindful and inquisitive consumers, the change is happening where companies can no longer throw a “natural” label on their package and expect blind trust from shoppers. We have a long way to transparency, but the momentum is strong.

What are some of your favorite socially responsible brands or companies when it comes to sourcing ingredients?

photo courtesy of Flickr user alicehenneman