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Natalie Reitman-White | photo by Corey Arnold

Good Enough to Eat

How seven execs are making the food supply cleaner, greener, and healthier.

Jeff Seabright
VP, Environment and Water Resources
The Coca-Cola Co.
Atlanta, Georgia

Water Runs Deep

Jeff Seabright, 53, has to figure out how to clean the 290 billion liters of water Coca-Cola and its bottlers use to make its products, ensuring future water supplies for the company — and local communities.

"We are effectively a hydration company, so it's a business risk for us if water is not readily available. Whether we draw water from a municipality or extract groundwater, we've really pushed ourselves to understand the full 360 on water: from a watershed perspective, a social context, and in our plant use. In India, we're funding rainwater-capture devices and drip irrigation, offsetting our use. In Guatemala, we're working to clean up a watershed that feeds into the world's second-largest marine reef — and our bottling plant. From 2002 to 2006, product volume increased 14%, and the amount of water used to make that product decreased 6%. Right now, 84% of the water we use to produce our products is fully treated and returned to the environment, safe for aquatic life. Our goal is to get to 100% by 2010."

Fedele Bauccio
Cofounder and CEO
Bon Appétit Management Co.
Palo Alto, California

Off the Menu

Fedele Bauccio, 66, has instituted a sustainable-food program at the 400-plus eateries that Bon Appétit manages, from university dining halls to the DreamWorks commissary.

"I like a great hamburger as much as anyone does, but once we learned that livestock operations produce 18% of all worldwide greenhouse-gas emissions, exceeding even transportation, we committed to reducing our meat consumption. We moved away from industrially raised meat to natural-beef burgers that have less water. We found that a 4-ounce natural-beef patty tastes better and cooks to the same size as a conventional 5-ounce patty. If you can convince customers about the importance of what you're doing, tell a story, and offer great-tasting food, you will get higher sales that will cover a couple of percentage points in higher costs. In the first nine months, we cut our beef consumption 23%."

Margaret Wittenberg
Global VP, Quality Standards and Public Affairs
Whole Foods Market
Austin, Texas

The Morningstar of Meat

Margaret Wittenberg, 56, has been working on Whole Foods' meat standards for eight years. Under a system being rolled out this year, meat sold at the chain will receive a 1-to-5 rating, based on animal-welfare protocols audited by a third party. It is the first such graded system anywhere for meats.

"Whole Foods had required basic animal welfare in what we sold — no antibiotics or hormones — but felt we needed to do more. We invited animal-welfare groups and scientists to join us at the table with producers to tackle all the species: ducks, beef cattle, pigs, broiler chickens, sheep, turkeys. Many minds can do good work if you're intent on making something happen. After five years, we settled on a system that recognizes that there can be variation as well as continuous improvement. To rate a 4, for example, animals must have continuous access to pasture. I'm picky about what I eat. If I didn't believe in the process we've created, I wouldn't be eating meat."

Henry and Lisa Lovejoy
Founders
EcoFish
Dover, New Hampshire

A Cleaner Catch

Henry and Lisa Lovejoy, 44 and 45, respectively (pictured with Sherpa, their 14-year-old English setter), are the largest sellers of sustainably caught and chemical-free farm-raised fish in the country. EcoFish, whose products are available in 1,000 groceries and 150 restaurants, is growing by more than 50% a year.

Henry: "Our number-one mission in launching this company was to make sure the fish we sold were sustainably caught or produced on fish farms that didn't pollute or use antibiotics. When we've visited fish auctions, we've seen juvenile tuna for sale that hadn't yet reproduced. The fish were a commodity. Price was all that mattered.

We created the Henry & Lisa's Natural Seafood brand, so consumers could make a sustainable choice without having to navigate all the complexities of the market. Sustainable seafood is viewed as expensive, but there are options at every price. Alaskan pollock wholesales for $1 a pound, and we use it in our fish sticks. Our marinated Alaskan salmon retails for $3.75 a portion."

Eduardo J. Sanchez
VP and Chief Medical Officer
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas
Dallas, Texas

A Doctor's Recipe

Eduardo J. Sanchez, 49, battled the issues that lead to childhood obesity — poor diet and exercise — as Texas's commissioner of health. He joined Blue Cross and Blue Shield last May.

"In medical school, I spent a summer in Brownsville, Texas, where a significant number of patients lived in colonias, border towns with no sewers, running water, or electricity. After a heavy rain, you'd have an outbreak of gastrointestinal disease, and it occurred to me: What makes more sense — set up more clinics, or figure out how to offer clean water?

In trying to tackle pediatric diabetes, the clear issue is childhood obesity. When I was in government, if we didn't deal with it, the state would face soaring medical costs. We pushed to get vending machines out of elementary schools and reformed the school-lunch program so that students got less fried food and leaner meats. With fitness programs, we found healthy kids are smarter kids.

At Blue Cross, we have to be mindful that our bottom-line objective is to keep members healthy. And that's going to be more about diet and exercise than the doctor's office and the hospital."

Natalie Reitman-White
Sustainability Coordinator
Organically Grown Co.
Eugene, Oregon

Delivering the Goods

Natalie Reitman-White, 30, leads an initiative at the Northwest's largest organic-produce distributor to go to zero waste and cut fossil-fuel use — not easy for a delivery company.

"There's a lot of low-hanging fruit, if you will: switching to biodiesel for our fleet, retraining our drivers so they don't sit with trucks idling. We launched a contest where drivers could compete for who got the highest mpg. Two employees went Dumpster diving to see what we were throwing away and what could be recycled, composted, or avoided, such as faxes. In the warehouse, we now sort trash at the beginning of a shift, when people aren't tired. These moves cut our waste in half.

The much bigger challenge is changing our supply chain. We can't do that alone. For example, we want to replace waxed-cardboard produce boxes, which can't be recycled, with reusuable plastic bins. But to do so, retailers have to agree to store them until we take them back. The industry as a whole has to work together."

Natalie Reitman-White | photo by Corey Arnold

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