retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Fast Company has a fascinating interview with Gary Hirshberg, CEO of Stonyfield Farm, in which talks about the need for a more sustainable food culture. Some excerpts:

• “We don't know what real food is as a culture, as a society. We're not ready to pay for it. We have this illusion that food not only can, but should be, cheap. I call it an illusion because we do end up paying it, through our bodies and also our planet. We really have to restore to help the financial state of our farmers. There is a whole host of consequences to eating unsustainably, but we don't measure them because they're externalities. They don't appear on our income statements, but they're real costs. One in three kids born after 2000 will be a diabetic, and that's one in two if it's Hispanic or African American. Two-thirds of Americans are obese or overweight, and we're spending billions to deal with those problems. Those are the consequences of cheap food. It's not cheap at all.”

• “When you shop, you're really voting for the kind of world you want. What we should understand is, whether you're in the airport, in a supermarket, in a convenient store or a restaurant, every time you select one item, it has a ripple effect far, far, far beyond that momentary product. It is power. We should use that power for good. I'm living proof of that. We started with seven cows. And millions and millions of people have voted with their dollars for Stonyfield, and now it's a $340 million company. We are what we eat, but more importantly, we are what we buy.”
KC's View:
The notion of context is so important. Another example of this is the USA Today story the other day about a new study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) saying that “obese children are more likely to die prematurely than their healthy-weight peers.”

The premature death of children seems like the highest possible price to pay for what essentially is a kind of ignorance.