As I write this editorial, we are in the midst of a heatwave and fire storms are raging in Northern Ontario and in British Columbia simultaneously. The subject of icy treats and sustainable choices have never been more on point. Everyone is looking for cool, sweet relief during these infernal days, and comfort is needed when we take a hard look at the environmental impact our choices have made.
Weather is getting more extreme, hotter in the summer and colder in winter, and forest fires are becoming more commonplace. Milling company Ardent Mills recently announced that it is starting regenerative farming practices in an effort to save the land its grains are grown on, and to ensure food supplies for future generations. Companies like Cacao Barry and Puratos are aware of the need for environmentally friendly ingredients. Finding Fair Trade certified cacao preserves the health of the cocoa farmers, their land and livelihood; vanilla farmers are protected through environmental and socially-conscious initiatives like the Sustainable Trade Initiative.
Some consumers pursue a plant-based diet do so to reduce their carbon footprint. Some companies choose to cater to their clients’ need to focus on environmentally-friendly options, and some companies include more sustainable ingredients to cater to a growing “health halo” that surrounds plant-based or vegan foods. Whatever the reason, there is a growing trend toward sustainable eating, and as the food industry slowly becomes more conscious of its impact.
This summer, plant-based ice creams, gelato and chocolates have been sweetening our palates. Consumers have a growing appetite for ingredients that do not deplete our resources. In this issue, you will read about how Host Milano, the international hospitality trade show is focusing on sustainability and environmentally friendly practices in the kitchen and the dining area.
Customers may look for decadence, but would like to be reassured that they are not responsible for indirectly depleting any future sources of their favourite treat. By selecting Fair Trade, sustainable, regenerative and low-footprint choices are only one side of the argument in favour of sustainability. A chocolate farm that has made the commitment to not using pesticides that affect farmers’ health, and doesn’t use child labour are two more of the tenets that conscientious consumers look for.
Catering to a new awareness of our buying choices on the environment isn’t necessarily new; Puratos has studied food trends for decades, and sustainable ingredients are among some of the recurring requests from clients. People want to feel good about what they eat, and they want to feel that they are contributing favourably to the world they live in. We may have an appetite for good pastry, but these days, “good” pastry means more than its taste. Consumers want an ethical choice that means they are being good to the farmers who provide the raw ingredients, and that they are being good to the factories that have a low carbon footprint when processing or packaging their treats. Some companies give their clients and added incentive, through donating a portion of their sales to a charity or a cause.
We are all struggling to make the world a better place, and bakeries always put a smile on even the saddest of faces. This is the time where bakeries, confectioners and ice cream companies are choosing their ingredients with a care that reflects more than flavour. Some buy local, some buy non-GMO, organic ingredients, and others give to a charity that warms their hearts. Whatever the choice is made, it is clear that we are aware of a change that has to be made to keep the long-term future of bakeries and its traditions of baking alive. / BJ
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