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Our Sustainability Commitment: People and Planet First. And always.
The results are in! Thanks to the tireless efforts of activists to raise awareness, environmental ignorance is slowly becoming a thing of the past. Consumers around the world are speaking out for sustainability and consciously supporting companies that make products in ways that respect our planet. Your choices are changing the world one purchase at a time. And as a company that's committed to sustainability, we are grateful for the support.
Sustainable practices are not all alike. For some, sustainability simply means being mindful of the impact that lifestyle choices have on the planet. To others, sustainability involves rallying against pollutive practices that threaten to destroy the natural world we call home. Regardless of what sustainability means to each of us or how we practice it in everyday life, one thing that we can all agree on is that taking any action, no matter how small, is better than doing nothing at all.
At NutriGold, we think of sustainability as the "synergistic and interdependent relationship between people and planet." The natural world nourishes and sustains human life and we, in turn, have an obligation to protect and preserve it for future
generations. We don't believe it is ethical to prioritize profits over people or planet and are as mindful of the impact that our decisions have on human health as we are of their impact on sustainability and ecological biodiversity.
We demonstrate our commitment to sustainability by sourcing non-GM ingredients, championing organic farming, supporting locally-sourced ingredients, and using environmentally responsible, biodegradable packaging Our non-GMO and organic ingredients nourish your health and the health of our soil; our locally-sourced fish oils greatly reduce environmental impact and promote biodiversity; our renewable, biodegradable, tree-free boxes protect against deforestation; and our fair-trade ingredients empower underprivileged communities around the world.
And our efforts to save the planet don't stop there. In addition to making sure our footprint is as small as possible, we work with organizations committed to the preservation of our ecological resources. Our industry partners include the Forest Stewardship Council, EarthPact, the Marine Stewardship Council, Friend-of-the-Sea, USDA, and our friends at the Non-GMO Project. We contribute a part of the proceeds from every purchase to address some of the most pressing environmental challenges of our times.
We are on a mission to create nourishing products, educate conscious consumer communities, and adopt sustainable business practices for a healthier world. But, our idealism and ambition is tempered by the knowledge that we can't do it alone. We need you. We need eco-minded consumers like you to support companies like ours that are committed to fighting the good fight. Your support will bring us one step closer to our vision of a healthier and more sustainable world.
- Going Organic: Small Changes, Big Difference -
Increasing awareness among consumers about the damaging effects of pesticides on human health is fueling demand for organic products. According to The Rodale Institute, pesticide residues—some of them cancer-causing, are found on approximately 38% of conventional produce. Of course, this doesn't mean the remaining 62% don't have any residues, it just means that they are present in non-detectable amounts.
Skeptics of the organic movement could successfully argue that pesticide residues, when they are present, can easily be washed off with water, which doesn't cost anything. So, why pay more for organic when the solution to avoid pesticides is, well, free? Fair point, but the problem is, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that pesticides contaminate groundwater in about 38 states. This basically means that the water needed to wash off the pesticide residues may actually be contaminated by the pesticides that were used on the produce to begin with. Not quite the win-win solution, is it?
Even if there is little consensus on whether or not it pays to go organic just to avoid exposure to residual pesticides, there is no denying the postive impact of organic purchases on the planet. Organic agriculture increases biodiversity, restores soil quality, mitigates climate change, conserves water, enriches the lives and livelihoods of farmers, and improves consumer health. And for these reasons, organic farming may actually be, contrary to popular opinion, an equitable solution in the long run to the challenges of food security and sustainability.
Of course, none of organic's amazing benefits can make up for the fact that organic products cost more. The same price premiums that benefit organic farmers and help improve their livelihoods make organic products inaccessible to most consumers. But, rather than considering the higher price of organic as a cost of doing business like many do, we choose to think of it as an investment—in your health and in the future of our planet.
At NutriGold, we have always believed in the power of organic products to nourish human health and save the planet. But, we mistakenly assumed when we first started that going organic had to be an all-or-nothing proposition—that if we couldn't do it all, we shouldn't do it at all. However, as time went by and we grew in knowledge and experience, we realized that, when it comes to saving the world, even small changes can make a difference. A BIG difference.
So, we started by making one small change—replacing one conventional [non-organic] ingredient in our products with an organic alternative. One small change led to another and then another, and the rest, as they say, is history. We have come a long way since those early days—55% of our products now have at least one organic ingredient, and 58% of those products are USDA certified to contain > 95% organic ingredients.
We are uncompromising in our commitment to making affordable, organic products. And we will continue to stay true to that commitment by doing what we've always done—finding efficiencies in our processes and operations to offset the higher costs of organic ingredients, and passing on the savings to you, our valued consumers. After all, what would be the point of making healthy, sustainable products that no one can afford? To quote Maria Rodale, CEO and Chairman of the Rodale Institute, “when we demand organic, we are demanding poison-free food. We are demanding clean air. We are demanding pure, fresh water. We are demanding soil that is free to do its job and seeds that are free of toxins. We must make organic the conventional choice and not the exception available only to the rich and educated.”
Our efforts to go organic may not be enough to save the world [yet], but we are making progress every day, with every choice, and with every decision. And each step, no matter how small, brings us that much closer to our vision of a healthier, more sustainable world.
Non-GMO: Advocating for a Healthier Future
According to the Institute for Responsible Technology, GMOs, short for genetically modified organisms, are created when “genes from the DNA of one species are extracted and forced into the genes of an unrelated plant or animal” so they can withstand direct applications of chemical pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides. GMOs are generally considered unsafe and most developed countries, with the exception of the U.S., either have stringent laws or outright bans limiting their production and use in foods. GMOs are approved for use in the U.S. by the Food and Drug Administration, a decision that appears to be based on economic rather than ecological reasons.
Big corporations spend millions of dollars each year trying to sell Congress and consumers on the benefits of advanced agricultural practices that include farming of genetically modified seeds and crops. They argue, somewhat successfully, that genetically modified seeds are resistant to synthetic pesticides and herbicides, which can boost yields by limiting losses due to diseases, weeds, and rodents. Between higher yields and federal subsidies to offset costs, GM farming can not only support agricultural economies and the people who depend on them but also provide a solution to the challenges of world hunger and food security. But, what about the potential dangers of consuming GMOs?
Well, supporters of GM agriculture have a compelling response to that too. Just ask Mark Lynan, a GMO critic-turned-believer, who said, “We no longer need to discuss whether or not it [GMOs] is safe—over a decade and a half with three trillion GM meals eaten, there has never been a single substantiated case of harm. You are more likely to get hit by an asteroid than to get hurt by GM food.” We agree that those are pretty small odds, but the problem is, the arguments in support of GM farming only tell one side of the story.
What GMO supporters conveniently ignore is that over 2.5 million metric tons (5.6 billion pounds) of herbicides and pesticides are used each year, and a majority of this is a direct result of GMOs. These manmade toxins seep into the soil and destroy the fragile ecosystem of living organisms that support nutrient cycling, water conservation, and plant health. This isn’t just tragic, it can be downright dangerous. Our ecosystems depend on these living organisms and compromising their survival can upset the delicate balance of nature—something we may not be able to fix in our lifetimes.
The problem, however, goes beyond the use of pesticides and herbicides; GMO crops designed to resist them pose a similar threat. Scientists at Harvard University suggest that GMOs cross-pollinate with other plant species, passing on their mutated genes. They anticipate that, over time, these genes will give some plants dominance over others, which could result in less biodiversity. And those are just the effects on the environment. What about the effects on human health?
According to the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (2009), several well-designed animal studies confirm the serious health risks associated with GM food consumption including infertility, immune dysregulation, accelerated aging, dysregulation of genes associated with cholesterol synthesis, cell signaling, and changes in the liver, kidney, spleen and GI system.
The evidence showing the negative effects of GMOs on human health may be inconclusive, but that may be because GMOs are not labeled, which makes proving causality very difficult. Efforts to investigate the causal relationship between GMOs and human health are further compromised by the fact that GM seeds are patented, so independent researchers have difficulty accessing them. What does all this mean? It simply means that it would be short-sighted, dangerous even, to equate the lack of “conclusive” evidence of GMO’s negative effects as “no” evidence or, worse, as indirect evidence that GMOs are safe for human consumption.
Regardless of where consumers stand on the science, GMO labeling is in high demand, with over 92% of consumers supporting legislation that would require companies to list genetically modified ingredients on the label. While GMO labeling regulations will likely change with time and legislation, NutriGold’s position on GMOs remains constant: we are committed to doing everything we can to eliminate GMOs from our supply chain.
Our commitment to the non-GMO cause is grounded in our guiding principle to “do no harm.” We work closely with the Non-GMO Project as their official sponsor of Education and Outreach to educate consumers and help them make informed decisions that impact their health, the health of loved ones, and the long-term sustainability of our planet. Fact is, we all have a choice to make—to promote the creation of more GMO products or to support the growth of sustainable food. As consumers, we get to decide what the future is going to look like. And that’s not a responsibility any of us should take lightly. Think about this—if we don’t take care of ourselves and our planet, who will provide for future generations?
- Sourcing Locally: Reducing Environmental Impact -
In the United States, the average American meal travels about 1,500 miles from farm to plate (Hendrickson, 1996). The ingredients used to make a carton of strawberry yogurt—milk, sugar, and strawberries—collectively travel approximately 2,211 miles, and that's just to get to the processing plant (Pirog & Benjamin, 2005). According to the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture, sugarcane that is grown and processed into raw sugar in Hawaii travels 10,000 miles before it is available as convenient sugar packets in a cafe, a mile down the street from the farm where the sugarcane crop was harvested. A prepared meal, on average, contains ingredients imported from at least 5 countries (Natural Resources Defense Council, 2007). These statistics are significant, and relevant, because the distance our food travels before it reaches our plate has a direct impact on our health and the sustainability of our planet.
Most of us are not consciously aware of the incredibly complex global food system that works behind the scenes to keep our supermarkets and grocery stores filled with nature's bounty. We are so conditioned to having uninterrupted access to a dizzying array of fruits and vegetables year-round that we don't always consider where they came from, how far they traveled to get there, or what their nutritional content is at the time of purchase. We marvel at the scientific advances that have made "seedless" fruits possible but don't always question the wisdom in consuming foods that don't occur in nature. We delight in buying produce that is technically not in season but don't give more than a passing thought to the environmental impact of our purchasing decision.
Interestingly, however, despite the lack of conscious awareness about the food system, support for locally and regionally produced food is growing. According to the USDA, sales of locally-produced food increased from $5 billion in 2008 to about $11.7 billion in 2014. And this is good news for both people and planet. Locally-produced foods are more nutritious, fresher, safer, promote biodiversity, support local economies, provide habitats for wildlife, and ensure the sustainability of our natural resources by conserving fertile soil, protecting water resources, and reducing emissions.
At NutriGold, our first preference is to source ingredients as close to home as possible. This practice offers greater control over the supply chain, increases accountability, and helps ensure consistent quality. In fact, many of the ingredients we currently use in our products are sourced in the US including astaxanthin, coQ10, ubiquinol, saw palmetto, red yeast rice, black garlic, sprouted beans, lentils, grains, seeds, and greens. Even the rice concentrate that we use as a replacement for conventional additives like magnesium stearate, stearic acid, and silicon dioxide, is grown and processed right here at home.
However, there are some botanical ingredients that we source from regions outside the US like turmeric, green tea, ginkgo, and St. John’s wort, among others, because we believe that local growing and environmental conditions impact the composition and strength of the bioactive compounds that naturally occur in these botanicals. The tradeoff to this sourcing practice is that it makes our carbon footprint larger than we would like it to be. So, we revisit and revise our practices on an ongoing basis to find efficiencies or alternatives that will allow us to stay true to our ingredient sourcing philosophy while minimizing the environmental impact of our purchasing decisions.
Among the ingredients that we source locally for use in our products, perhaps the one that is the most significant in terms of minimized ecological impact is the fish oil we use in our omega-3 products. The source of the fish oil matters because the greater the distance the oil has to travel before it reaches the shelf, the more devastating its impact on the environment. This is also significant becauseapproximately 8% of the US population takes a fish oil supplement and fish oil was the most popular natural product used by adults in the US in 2012 (Clarke, Black, Stussman, Barnes, & Nahin, 2015).
According to the Global Organization for EPA and DHA (GOED), 80% of all omega-3 supplements sold in the US are made from Peruvian anchoveta, which the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) calls the "most exploited fish in history." The anchoveta fishery is considered a "reduction" fishery, which means the fish aren't used for human food—the entire catch is ground up and cooked. The oil is pressed out of this ground up fish and the deoiled protein is dried up and used as fish meal. The fish meal is used as fodder for livestock and the oil is used to make, among other things, fish oil supplements. And that’s just the beginning. The oil is then transported from Peru to processing facilities in Norway, China, or other countries, and then transported to the US for manufacturing and distribution. The approximate distance traveled from the source to shelf—10,000 miles to 17,000 miles.
By contrast, our fish oil products are made using wild-caught Alaska Pollock found in Alaska's Bering Sea. The Alaska Pollock fishery is the largest commercial fishery in the US and certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). Unlike Peruvian anchoveta, Alaska Pollock are caught exclusively for human consumption and processed on FDA-inspected vessels while still at sea. The oil is transported from Alaska to Ohio for purification and concentration. The approximate distance from the source to shelf—3,900 miles.
Healthy oceans and sustainable foods are essential for our survival. It is more important than ever for us to understand the impact of our choices on our own well-being and the well-being of our planet. As informed consumers, we can all contribute to the restoration and preservation of our resources by finding out where the ingredients in supplements come from and supporting companies that embrace sustainable sourcing practices. For our part, we will continue to mindfully source locally-produced ingredients when possible, manufacture all of our products in the USA, and support the efforts of independent organizations like the Marine Stewardship Council, which are committed to the protection of environmental resources and the long-term sustainability of our planet.
Partnering for a More Sustainable World
Sustainability is defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” The natural world nourishes and sustains human life and we, in turn, have an obligation to protect and preserve it for future generations. We don't believe it is ethical to prioritize profits over people or planet and are as mindful of the impact that our decisions have on human health as we are of their impact on sustainability and ecological biodiversity.
We demonstrate our commitment to sustainability by sourcing non-GM ingredients, supporting organic farming, choosing local seafood, and using environmentally responsible, biodegradable packaging Our non-GMO and organic ingredients nourish your health and the health of our
soil; our locally-sourced fish oils greatly reduce environmental impact and promote biodiversity; our renewable, biodegradable, tree-free boxes protect against deforestation; and our fair-trade ingredients empower underprivileged communities around the world.
And our efforts to save the planet don't stop there. In addition to making sure our footprint is as small as possible, we work with organizations committed to the preservation of our ecological resources. Our industry partners include the Forest Stewardship Council, EarthPact, the Marine Stewardship Council, Friend-of-the-Sea, USDA, and our friends at the Non-GMO Project. We invite you to learn more about our industry partners and join us as we work to address some of the most pressing environmental challenges of our times.
According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), forests are essential for our survival. Forests provide habitats for animals and livelihoods for humans, prevent soil erosion, mitigate climate change, and promote biodiversity. And yet, despite our incredible dependence on forests, we are still allowing them to disappear.
In the U.S. alone, each person uses, on average, approximately seven trees per year in various paper products. That's a total of 2,232,300,000 trees annually for the entire U.S. population. Thankfully, a growing majority of Americans are speaking up against deforestation and consciously supporting companies and products that are packaged using earth-friendly, deforestation-free materials.
At NutriGold, we do our part to conserve forests by using tree-free cartons made from agricultural waste to package our products. Our carton boxes are biodegradable, renewable, recyclable, and compostable. We can honestly say, "no trees are harmed in the making of our carton boxes." We use only certified sustainable paper for printing, avoid paper plates and cups, use electronic recordkeeping to reduce paper usage, and recycle and repurpose all of our packaging materials to minimize waste.
We also partner with EarthPact and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), which is responsible for setting the standards for responsible forestry. The SFI ensures the protection of biological diversity, customary rights of indigenous people, water resources, soils, and unique and fragile ecosystems and landscapes, and the maintenance of the integrity of the forest. To learn more about SFI's mission, vision, goals, and activities, please visit SFI's website www.forests.org.
Marine Wildlife Conservation
Oceans are our largest ecosystems and cover more than 70% of our planet. They sustain all life on Earth, generating half of the oxygen we breathe, absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and reducing the impact of climate change. They positively impact human health and nutrition, support economic development, and are a food source for a majority of the world's population.
However, our oceans are neither limitless nor immune to enviromental and man-made threats. Our oceans are under increasing pressure from a growing global population, mechanization, and new technologies. The result—fisheries are being fished to their commercial limits and unsustainable practices are harming marine habitats and fishing economies. In fact, according to Barton Seaver, renowned chef and seafood expert, a shocking “70% are exploited, overexploited, or have already suffered a collapse.”
Healthy oceans and sustainable seafood are essential to our survival. It is becoming more important than ever for us to understand the impact of our seafood choices on our own well-being and the well-being of our oceans. As an informed consumer, you can contribute to the restoration of our marine resources by finding out where the fish comes from and by supporting sustainable fisheries.
At NutriGold, we understand that a flailing ocean ecosystem puts the health of the entire planet at risk. This is why we responsibly source the seafood for our fish oil omega-3 products from certified sustainable fisheries. Even better, our fish oil products are sourced, processed, and manufactured right here in the USA, which greatly reduces their environmental impact as well. The shortest distance from source-to-shelf? You bet!
We also partner with independent organizations like the Marine Stewardship Council and Friend-of-the-Sea, which set the standards for responsible fishing practices. These standards include staying within established fishing limits, curbing bycatch, and minimizing destructive fishing practices. To learn more about the mission and goals of these organizations and about what you can do to support the continued health of our marine ecosystem, please visit Marine Stewardship Council at www.msc.org and visit Friend of the Sea at www.friendofthesea.org.
Soil and Water Conservation
Healthy soils support a healthy ecosystem. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (2008), soil health is the capacity of soil to function as a living system, maintain or enhance water and air quality, and promote plant, animal, and human health. In fact, healthy soils nurture and sustain a diverse community of living organisms. These organisms develop synergistic and symbiotic relationships with plant roots, help recycle essential plant nutrients, improve soil structure, enhance water retention, and defend plants from diseases and predators (e.g. weeds, insects, and pests).
Unfortunately, the sustainability of this life-giving ecosystem has been compromised by modern farming practices, which emphasize efficiency and productivity at the expense of soil health and ecological balance. The result is an impaired ecosystem that can no longer maintain a healthy natural state without human intervention. Practices like over-tilling, monocropping, and indiscriminate use of synthetic herbicides and pesticides, have compromised the soil's ability to sustain and regenerate itself. The result—rapid growth of the GMO industry, soil contamination, soil erosion, water contamination, water wastage, declining food quality, and an undernourished population with an increased risk of morbidity.
At NutriGold, we recognize that a healthy soil ecosystem is essential for the long-term sustainability of plant, animal, and human life. This is one of many reasons why we mindfully choose only organic and non-GMO ingredients for use in our products. We proudly support the communities of farmers who use organic and non-GMO agricultural practices to nourish human health and maintain ecological balance through soil conservation, water conservation, and increased biodiversity.
Our industry partners include the USDA, which sets the standards for organic certification and labeling, and the Non-GMO Project, North America's largest, independent non-GMO verification program. To be eligible for the USDA organic certified seal, manufacturers must demonstrate that they are protecting natural resources, conserving biodiversity, and using only approved substances. The Non-GMO Project Verified seal provides assurance that products are manufactured in accordance with best practices for GMO avoidance. To learn more about USDA Organic Certification, visit www.usda.org. To learn more about Non-GMO Project verification, visit www.nongmoproject.org.
Protecting our planet’s resources by mindfully sourcing non-GMO ingredients, supporting organic farming, and using earth-friendly packaging.