MegaFood advocacy director says time for climate change action is now

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

Soil health is a priority for MegaFood. Photo courtesy of MegaFood
Soil health is a priority for MegaFood. Photo courtesy of MegaFood

Related tags Climate change Sustainability Transparency Traceability

The ongoing fires in Australia have heightened concern about the climate change crisis. One company in the supplement business says it is committed to do what it can to reverse the trend.

MegaFood, a company that markets supplements made from whole food ingredients, has long had a commitment to transparency and sustainability.  But recent events have confirmed the company’s belief that even though its footprint is small, it needed to show leadership in this arena.

Australian fires put issue into stark relief

The Australian bush has always been locked in a cycle of fire and regeneration, much like the manzanita chaparral of southern California.  But the scale of the fires this year has been unprecedented, and some areas have burned this year that had never burned before in recorded history.

The country recorded its driest spring in history​ and now, deep into fire season, blazes are raging in every state on the continent.  A years long drought, which experts are blaming on climate change, has brought the country to this juncture.

Climate change report

This most recent concern adds to that expressed in a high profile report released late last year​.  More than 11,000 scientists from 153 countries representing a range of disciplines signed off on the report, which concluded the planet “clearly and unequivocally faces a climate emergency.”

“Mitigating and adapting to climate change while honoring the diversity of humans entails major transformations in the ways our global society functions and interacts with natural ecosystems,” ​the authors wrote.

Living up to company’s mission

Bethany Davis of MegaFood

Bethany Davis, director of advocacy and government relations at MegaFood, said even though her company is a hardly a smudge in the corner of the global economic picture, it was deemed necessary to devise an action plan on climate change if the company was to live up to its core values.

“MegaFood has always been a small company with a big voice and a bigger vision, and for a small company we have pretty impressive numbers. Just this past year, we’ve sourced close to 750,000 lbs of fresh produce from our farm partners, obtained over 100,000 signatures on our petition around Glyphosate use and built a coalition of over 20 brands over the food and textile sectors, including Patagonia, Stonyfield and Ben and Jerry's, to support our activism efforts,” ​Davis told NutraIngredients-USA.

We also launched our Healthy Farm Standard to shift our supply chain into more regenerative practices and brought the Soil Carbon Initiative through comments at NSF. When we think of what we can accomplish as a small brand, it mostly just excites us because it means that if a small brand like MegaFood can do all this, just THINK of what can be accomplished when every brand takes responsibility for their impact and decides to use their power as a force for positive change,” ​she added.

One of MegaFood’s big pushes has been around the issue of the herbicide glyphosate, marketed under the brand name RoundUp and manufactured by Monsanto, now part of Bayer. Not only has the use of this chemical accelerated in recent decades for its core function, it has also started to be employed in a major way as a desiccant, sprayed on crops to dry them out so that harvest times can be more reliably scheduled.  

But even though the herbicide has utility that has made it attractive to some farmers, it has also been implicated in a range of human health threats ​as well as being suspected as being part of the reason for large scale honeybee population die offs.

Call for ban on preharvest use of glyphosate

These concerns led MegaFood to lead a coalition last year that called on the Environmental Protection Agency to ban preharvest use of glyphosate​.  Davis said the company was unsure at the time how consumers would react to the move, but felt it was worth the risk.

We didn't have a solid understanding of how our Ban Glyphosate campaign would sit with consumers when we launched it. We were pleasantly surprised and encouraged by the strong engagement and appreciation of that campaign from consumers and retailers alike. We were especially encouraged by the outpouring of support for our activism efforts with retailers in the natural channel. Does activism drive engagement and ROI? Yes. Is that why we do it? No. But it sure helps,” ​she said.

Big shifts start small

Davis said MegaFood’s position is that all big shifts in society start as small actions, so the near term import of an action is less important that what it could become. After all, just a little more than a year ago Greta Thunberg was just another Swedish teenager.

“Small actions or big actions—we need all the actions because they all count! Every single brand, farmer, policy maker and consumer has the opportunity to make positive change in their area, through their practices, through their votes and through their products. When everyone works together, that is when we start to see the really big shifts,​” Davis said.

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