You are what you eat—everyone’s heard that, and most people understand what it means. But how many can honestly say that they make smart food choices on a daily basis?
Let’s face it, our culture is based on convenience and instant gratification, and sometimes it’s just easier to grab a quick pre-made meal instead of going to the grocery store, and then utilizing even more brain power to sift through ingredients, read labels, and make sure to only buy the most natural, organic items.
Taking the first step always starts with education and awareness, and while this is the mantra for many organizations trying to make a change in the world, Billabong is doing its part to make these critical lifestyle choices easier for everyone with its support for this year’s Design For Humanity beneficiary, Chipotle’s Cultivate Foundation. The organization, which was founded under the company’s heavily touted catch phrase “Food With Integrity,“ aims to support the establishment and growth of sustainable food systems, on both a large scale and a smaller, local level.
“The internet has obviously brought communities together in a very powerful way, but it’s not the same as sitting down and breaking bread with somebody,” says Billabong Brand Director Candy Harris. “I think the one real driving factor—whether it’s planting a garden with your child or sitting down at a table with friends—is that idea that you are getting connected back to nature. It’s about caring where the food is coming from and creating healthier lifestyles—not just for our kids and our generation, but it’s also healthy for local economies and these family farmers who are working their hardest to produce food the way it’s meant to be. ”
The Cultivate Foundation has tapped into the “Farm to Table” concept – one that is catching on and becoming increasingly popular at high-end restaurants, and now even at the “fast food” level. And while it’s easy for most of us to overlook smarter food sources in our busy day-to-day schedules, the Cultivate Foundation is zeroing in on sourcing all of their ingredients from sustainable food sources, such as local farms, and making educated decisions about which ingredients they are selecting.
“We are the only national restaurant company with significant commitments to local and organically grown produce, and an increasing amount of the dairy we use is made with milk from pasture-raised dairy cattle, which includes all of our sour cream and about 65% of our cheese,” says Chipotle Cultivate Foundation’s Communications Director Chris Arnold. “This is an uphill battle in a world where industrial agriculture really dominates the food supply.”
Because of its “fast food” exterior appearance, Chipotle’s mission seems like it could fly under the radar, somewhat unnoticed. The company has, however, done a great job of outlining exactly what it’s up to on its website, which is full of explanations about sustainable farming, the pros and cons of organic foods, and how the company makes it’s decisions when it comes to sourcing ingredients. Utilizing partnerships it has with Farm Aid, an organization that assists family farms, and Veggie U, an Ohio-based group that is educating fourth graders on how to grow their own food, the Cultivate Foundation hopes to gain more awareness within the ever-broadening community, which translates succinctly to action sports’ key demographic.
“We do a lot in the action sports arena and find that people who participate in these sports are also our customers; they’re young, vibrant, and active,” says Arnold. “This is the first year the Cultivate Foundation has been involved with this event, and that came about through the relationships we have with Billabong. Design for Humanity really attracts a young, active, and engaged audience. Those are the same people that care about food and where it comes from.”
Evan Marks at The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano is a prime example of how a little extra thought toward improving the eco-system we all share has a direct impact on not only the food we are consuming, but our overall lifestyle as well. Providing a plethora of programs for children and adults, that range from organic cooking classes to teaching elementary students how to plant and grow their own vegetables, the center has rallied the local community around sustainable food awareness and education. The Cultivate Foundation has also noticed Marks’ and the center’s achievements, and will be partnering with The Ecology Center in the fall for “Grow Your Own,” a program that works gardening into the curriculum of four local schools and gives youth a chance to learn how to plant sustainable food.
For Marks, who holds an Agro-Ecology degree from UC Santa Cruz and headed up a four-year farming movement in Latin America, making the move to a more sustainable way of living is something he foresees as possible in the near future—as long as everyone starts taking a few baby steps in that direction right now.
“Whether it’s riding your bike to work or going to the farmers markets, these are all impactful,” says Marks. ”If we want to create a healthy ecosystem it takes all of us doing a little. We don’t have to transform ourselves overnight but just coming together as a community helps and then we can tackle it from there. These simple things help pull everything together: healthy food, healthy oceans, and healthy people.”
The Ecology Center also works with Hurley as its core partner on water conservation education, as well as teaming up with local nurseries, restaurants, and other businesses, and hopes to continue forming key partnerships to get the word out about many key environmental issues, says Marks. The same rings true for the Cultivate Foundation and it’s newly formed alliance with Billabong.
“Working with like-minded companies like Billabong is an amazing way to extend the reach of the foundation and to build awareness,” says Arnold. “Design for Humanity is such a great and highly visible event, that we hope people will leave having learned a little something about issues in food and why it is so important to support family farms, better animal husbandry and sustainable agriculture.”
If you haven’t already, be sure to support the cause and buy your tickets for Design For Humanity right here.
Click HERE to read the full interview with Arnold...