Society of St. Andrew’s Mike Waldmann, A Fierce Green Fire’s Mark Kitchell, Green Restaurant Association’s Michael Oshman and Monsanto’s Michael Doane
Ninety-six billion pounds of food goes to waste annually in the U.S., and a lot of that is fresh produce. Society of St. Andrew, a 34-year-old faith-based organization, saves fresh produce and provides it to feeding programs in each of the contiguous 48 states in an effort to combat this growing trend. The organization specializes in gleaning foods, both in the fields after harvest (food that is either not ready for market or does not meet specifications) and in packing and distribution centers (food that otherwise would be sent to landfills to be wasted).
Filmmaker Mark Kitchell had an ”I can’t believe nobody has done this” moment in the early 2000s when he thought up an idea to make a cinematic history of the environmental movement. The project, on which he started in 2001 and has been working full time since 2008, is now completed and titled A Fierce Green Fire. Kitchell compares the changes the world is currently going through to the industrial revolution, which he notes took two centuries to unfold — he classifies the current environmental situation as “almost too big, too fundamental to deal with. But one thing is for sure: It’s about civilizational transformation.
“[The environmental movement] is maybe the most important movement the world has ever witnessed,” Kitchell proclaims. “It sure deserves a big-picture film that really puts it all together so people can see what it’s all about.”
It was as a 19-year-old that Michael Oshman had had enough, becoming totally dissatisfied with his impact as a consumer, particularly when he would visit restaurants and see all the waste occurring around him. Right then he put together the idea for the Green Restaurant Association, an organization that creates a systemic change for businesses to make the proper eco-choices by saving energy, saving water and cutting waste. Twenty-three years later, restaurants in 47 states and across Canada are proud members.
“The foodservice industry is about one-eighth of the American economy,” Oshman reveals. “It has a huge impact financially and environmentally. When people choose to dine out they’re making an incredible impact on water and energy.
Iconic agricultural company Monsanto has sustainability in its DNA. Michael Doane, the company’s Vice President of Sustainable Agricultural Policy, identifies the three key sustainability factors that the company prioritizes: meeting the growing demand for food, doing that in a way that conserves the underlying resource base (water and land) and producing more while conserving more and improving agricultural workers’ lives. Monsanto’s goal is to serve farmers in practical ways by helping to control pests, heat and drought while delivering these solutions sustainably.
“Civilization didn’t really take off until agriculture got efficient,” Doane explains. “That’s when society started to move ahead and take the resources that focused on preservation of the species. In the last hundred years, we have seen a tremendous number of changes, where today we’re producing the food requirements for the planet on one-tenth of the land mass that it took 150 years ago.”