Hal Hamilton founded and now is co-director of the Sustainable Food Lab in Hartland, Vt., which helps companies adopt sustainability practices, gathers data on sustainability efforts and shares that information to promote the sustainability movement. He talks with SmartBlogs about how the lab works and the future of sustainable agriculture.

How did the Sustainable Food Lab get started and what are the priorities?

The Food Lab first convened in June 2004 as a two-year leadership journey. Over the past 10 years it has expanded to include more than 60 member and partner organizations, including brand manufacturers like Unilever, Mars and Stonyfield; food service companies like Sysco, Sodexo and Aramark; retailers like Costco and Marks & Spencer; and NGOs like The Nature Conservancy, Rainforest Alliance and Oxfam.

The reason the Food Lab has grown is that businesses are integrating sustainability into their value chains and need to learn from one another about how to do this more effectively. (read more…)

We spoke with Jeff Dunn, CEO of Bolthouse Farms and former senior executive at Coca-Cola, in a one-on-one interview after his inspiring session “Creating Fruits & Veggies Passion!” at this year’s PMA Fresh Summit in New Orleans. From the acquisition of Bolthouse Farms by Campbell and industry issues and trends to marketing to kids in the future and a brand new partnership with PMA to begin a marketing community, we get the scoop from straight from the source.

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SB: The natural foods and premium juice industry is exploding and more and more large companies are acquiring smaller health-oriented companies. What has changed for Bolthouse Farms since Campbell acquired it 15 months ago? Has it changed the direction of the brand at all?

Not at all, and the reason is that because when they bought us, Denise Morrison, the CEO, part of the deal in buying us was that she really wanted to leave us as a sustainable company, she recognized our mission was slightly different than theirs, but mostly, our business system was different. (read more…)

 fieldSummer officially begins Friday, but the Garden State has been turning greener and more lush for weeks. Fields boast robust-looking rows of corn plants that seem to grow several inches every day, our favorite farmers markets are filling the bins with early lettuce and the first of the state’s namesake tomatoes, and some of us dream of the big South Jersey blueberries that are just around the corner.

In these days of bounty and the promise of much more to come, it’s sometimes hard to remember that not everyone can enjoy these gifts from nature and almost nobody gets them year-round. That’s why it can be inspiring to read about all the innovative urban gardening projects taking root around the globe.

In August, we brought you the story of William Sears and Vertifresh, a startup that’s growing lettuce, basil and other greens hydroponically, in retrofitted shipping containers in the heart of Denver’s industrial district. (read more…)

Wendy’s is streamlining its corporate IT systems by integrating Esri Business Analyst into its reporting at new locations. The geographic information systems software will help the quick-service chain in conducting market analyses and selecting new sites. “The company’s decision to integrate GIS as a scalable technology within its existing systems means that any staff member, from marketing to design, can gain the benefits of mapping intelligence without any training and at any time,” said Simon Thompson, Esri’s director of commercial business.

The software utilizes customized analytics, Esri demographics data and server GIS applications to create a mapping interface that allows staff to have easy access to sales records, demographics and other reports from any of the more than 6,500 existing chain locations. The new system also gives the company the ability to create predictive models and analyze potential restaurant cannibalization at new and existing restaurants, which span across America, the U.S. (read more…)

CMI logoThis series is sponsored by the Can Manufacturers Institute, where gray is the new green. Want to know the reason? Download our sustainability paper to learn more about how cans stand alone as the sustainable solution for 21st-century packaging. Pass it on. CanCentral.com/sustainability.

I never thought about it this way before, but the can of diced tomatoes I used in a recipe recently may once have played a tiny part in holding up a house, keeping a family’s clothes clean or delivering the carpool. Steel, like aluminum, is a metal that’s highly recyclable, and while cans are the most common usage for both metals, reused steel can come from and go into a host of other products, from car bumpers to building materials to big-ticket appliances.

The amount of steel recycled in the U.S. in 2012 totals more than 60 million tons so far and is growing, according to the Steel Market Development Institute. (read more…)