Eating organic at restaurants

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Eating organic at restaurants

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Let me first say that we started our company back in 1983 when nobody was eating yogurt and nobody knew what organic was. And today it's a $350M company. It's now part of an industry that's $35B in sales, the organic industry. Now most of us would have said back in 1983, that's never going to happen. You're never going to get that kind of growth. The only reason that we have grown this industry and my company has grown is because individual consumers have made that choice right at the store, right at the cash register, right at the restaurant. So what we have to understand is that this is a two-part social change effort. On the one hand you want to get what you want. On the other hand you have to understand that when you ask for it, you're changing what they're going to sell. So restaurants are particularly complicated. It's not quite as simple. There is no requirement right now that you put it on the menu if it was genetically engineered or if it was hormone free. Now progressive restaurateurs who want you to know how proud they are that their food is really clean will say, humanely raised, biodynamic, GMO free. And those of course, you want to patronize those restaurants for sure. But don't ever underestimate the power that you have as one person to go into that restaurant and say, do you have. You ask that waiter or waitress, do you have. That message is going to make its way back up the chain. That's how everything happens in the marketplace. Margaret Meade said never doubt the power of a small group of people to change the world. Indeed it's the only thing that ever has. That's the story of my company, my whole industry. By individuals making decisions one spoonful at a time, one purchase at a time, we have started to reshape the world. We've got a long way to go. The biggest restaurants out there are now calling me, saying, can you supply organic yogurt. That wasn't happening 10-20-30 years ago. That's a result of citizen's demand. We didn't have menu labeling of calories even a decade ago. Now we're starting to get this where you can actually know what's the fat level. What's the calorie level. And I think soon enough if we all keep the pressure on we'll all start to know no the menu itself whether it's been genetically engineered or not. Interestingly of course, once we have labeling, I don't think many restaurateurs will be buying it. And I believe that's one of the ways we can impact the food chain. I always say, I have yet to meet the consumer who wants the yogurt with more pesticides in it. An I think if restaurateurs and suppliers had to say then I think we would see it go away, so that's one of the other reasons I'm in favor of labeling. It creates more democracy in the marketplace, giving us the power we have as consumers. After all, we're the ones paying the bills, either for the food or for the health care down the road. So restaurants are tougher. I think we got a first start with grocery stores and food companies. But we'll get there.

Watch Video: Eating organic at restaurants by Gary Hirshberg, ...

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Gary Hirshberg

Gary Hirshberg is Chairman of Stonyfield Farm, the world’s leading organic yogurt producer, and Managing Director of Stonyfield Europe. He is also the Chairman and Founding Partner of “Just Label It, We Have the Right to Know,” the national campaign to label GE foods. Gary has received twelve honorary doctorates and numerous awards for corporate and environmental leadership including a 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award by the US EPA.

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