Sustainable Foods Summit, San Francisco by Danielle Lanyard

Jay Owen Sustainability News, Resource Efficiency, Advisors' Forum

Sustainable Food Summit Summary

by Danielle Lanyard



The movement towards Sustainability in the food industry is growing steadily, and never was this more apparent than at the Sustainable Food Summit held in San Francisco this past week.  The content, and the clarity of mission and vision of the thought leaders that spoke is both clear and headstrong towards one direction: building a thrivable planet and feeds us all sustainably.


From speaker to speaker and presentation to presentation, from day to day, and from person to person, it became clear that there was one thread that bound us all together and it was food.  Every single one of us eats, every day if we are so fortunate. And with each morsel of everything we ingest, we are making a choice and casting a ballot for what we believe in and what we want for our bodies.


For two days, attendees got to Imagine a world where our food was grown and produced and packaged and distributed sustainably and equitably. Through the presentations and thought leaders moderating and speaking, the innovations and solutions that are leading the way were shared.  And the future is bright, sustainable, filled with various eco labels, and pretty delicious!


Kicking things off was Doug Rauch, board member of Conscious Capitalism and former CEO of Trader Joes. His life and story were inspiring, and he left of us all with a simple call to action to work with purpose. There was no better lead in after that then the keynote by Amarjit Sahota, President and Founder of Ecovia Intelligence, and the producer of the summit.  After filling us with stats and trends on the state of the industry, the whole audience was hungry for more. And then came industry leader Annies, and their Sustainability Leader Shauna Sadowski, who gave a powerful presentation on Annie’s sustainability story and what’s on the horizon.


This exciting future includes innovative companies like AeroFarms, represented by Co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer Marc Oshima. Based in Newark, NJ, and bringing both urban farming into your home and to the masses, this company was doing big things with a big mission behind them and they are talking the talk and walking the walk as sustainably as it gets. With a farming method that uses 95% less water to grow leafy greens, it will be very juicy to see what grows in this space (all puns intended).


The Summit was filled with a jam packed roster of speakers and panels, networking and noshing, and inspiration from all the innovators in the room.  The panel discussions rolled on like this in what felt like a feast of ideas, innovations and co-creators who were all working to be the change they wished to be in the food industry. And they are making the road by walking, and eating.


The yummiest moment of the event by far, was presented by Tony’s Chocolonely, the leading Dutch chocolate company that is providing traceability to end slavery in cocoa. Their company began with a mission to put an end to slave labor in cocoa production while making the best chocolate, and they are now rated the number one best place to work in the Netherlands. With policies that include taking home as much chocolate as you’d like, and rewarding employees who get pregnant on the job with a $1,000 bonus, and a $2,000 if it’s with another employee, one can see how today’s generation of food companies are truly birthing a whole new industry.


Trailblazing in the food sector is not easy, and the themes of Sustainable Food Summit focused deeply on this and the core themes of Sustainability Trends and Standards, Food Ingredients, Health Impacts, and Labeling and Certifications. The future of everything from packaging to meat alternatives is on the table for innovation, and all of our plates are going to be full with the bright possibilities that are present and emerging in the sustainable food sector.


The Sustainable Food Summit is a great place to get a tangible overview of what’s happening and what’s possible, and where, and with whom, and how, to engage more sustainably with food. With all the 5ws of food covered, there’s little more one could ask for. We all have to eat, and the Sustainable Food Summit fills your plate with possibilities for a food sector that benefits people, planet and profit.