I read the article, 'The Impact of Environment Labelling on Consumer Preference: Negative Vs. Positive Labels', and it had some interesting information. This study looked at the affect eco-labels on products that showed both positive and negative impact on the environment had on consumers. I won't get into too many details because you guys need to read it for yourself but it pretty much concluded with the fact the labels with different ratings (having both positve and negative ratings, just like ours!) is a good idea, however, the only drawback is that producers will not want to pay to have a negative label put on their product.
I found an article that is about a label that has been developed called 'Nordic Environmental Label'. It is similar to what we are doing I found a website that had more information about it,
This label focuses on three concepts:
-Personal (relating to the product's health effect on the user)
-Environmental (relating to larger environmental impact and life cycle assessment)
-Social (relating to the company's policies and practices)
There is more information about it on the website above.
Tescos & Carbon Footprint
This is a place to post additional resources for determining FoodPrint criteria, their indicators, and collecting and evaluating that data.
The Pesticide Action Network supposedly has data culminated from the Department of Pesticide Regulation , who farms must allegedly report to.
The Center for Food Safety reports on pesticide residues on foods.
Today I had a great conversation with Professor Gail Feenstra of UC Davis, the food systems coordinator at the UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program. She called me and we spoke at length about the FoodPrint project. Not only did she mention some great resources to tap in to, she reframed what steps we need to take at this early stage in order to have a clearer vision and a more effective program.
It was interesting to hear about her work. She is working with a group at Davis to do work for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The WKKF funds local sustainable food projects with millions of dollars (see their "Food and Society" program). They have determined that GOOD foods are ones that satisfy four criteria. They are: fair, green, affordable, and healthy. So Gail's group has been assigned with the task of how to determine if a food qualifies under these things, and her group has decided to find four markers for each category. The WKKF will then use these criteria to evaluate how "good" food on the market is, to be able to track change in the "quality" of food and where they can redirect their funds to improve it. i.e. if fairness turns out to be weak, invest more in improving that.
So it sounds like Gail is asking a lot of the same questions we are. For FoodPrint, she thought it would be key for us to think about interfacing with other labels, and to contact existing organizations that are already doing this sort of thing. One organization she mentioned is Food Alliance, who does Food Alliance certification based on a whole number of things similar to our proposed criteria.
Gail also worked in the past with the "Vivid Picture Project" at vividpicture.net. This was initiated by another organization we should talk to called Roots of Change (Michael Vivic). It attempts to create a sustainable food system for California, and they succeeded in coming up with a set of indicators for their purpose. The problem was, they lacked a whole lot of purpose. This alludes to Gail's primary suggestion for FoodPrint, which I will get to in a sec.
Another key organization to contact is the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC), who has recently undertaken a project to assess all food labels and determine what each have to offer. This might be good in helping us determine what we wish to focus on and how we wish to frame our label. Just as we have planned, she also suggested surveying consumers to see how our label will be accepted, and it it will even be understood, because she felt we were assuming a lot (ex. a low FoodPrint score might seem bad to the average consumer). We are going to have to do a campaign to educate, as other food labels did.
Gail questioned whether a food label is the most effective way to heal our food systems and their impact. This is a very important issue to reassess as it requires a lot of funds, and there may be more effective methods that don't require so much. One alternative she mentioned is educating one level up--the retailers, restaurants, groceries, etc. They are also asking the same questions as us, and they want to know how to get more "green" foods into their businesses. They are hungry for that information.
This brings me to Gail's main point. The Vivid Picture project came up with criteria for a sustainable food system, but they did not have the foresight to have a clear plan for what that information would be used for. Gail herself has started many projects, and poured lots of effort into them, and then had them fizzle because of poor planning. She does not want to see FoodPrint be another idea that grows half way and then sits on a desk because of a lack of funding, a poor strategy, and no niche of people to work with. She said that we need to do a literature review to better understand the context of our proposal. This will help us assess the viability of our project as well as clarify our goals.
For starters, she recommended "In Defense of Food" by Michael Pollan, which I have requested from the Santa Cruz Library.
Gail recommended meeting with people face to face and spending time doing PR. To recap, these are the organizations that she recommended we contact at this point:
Food Alliance (based in Portland)
Roots of Change (Vividpicture.net, Michael Vivic)
Natural Resource Defense Council
W.K. Kellogg Foundation (possible funding source)
Overall yield (in number of servings)
Land use area (Acre-Years)
Water use volume
Fuels burned (Food miles, refrigeration)
Packaging volume and material
Household storage and preparation energy
Greenhouse gas emission (Carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide)
Fertilizer use (Organic and Chemical)
Agricultural pollution (Things like runoff, overgrazing, improper: plowing/irrigation/pesticide and fertilizer application/etc.)
Waste volume and disposal method
Genetic diversity/uniqueness of species
Invasiveness/Nativeness of species
Possible Criteria To Consider
Other certifications (Organic, Fair Trade, Green Business, Free Range, Antibiotic free, Certified Humane, etc.)
Food Safety rating
Diversity of seed strain
Genetic modification (gets complicated)
I would argue that Participation is not a good standard subindex because it does not use indicators that apply to all products, and realistically apply to very few.
As I see it, it would be great to list a couple of these "bonus" criteria if a product participates in them, but something else could go there standardly if they don't have these. That is why I think a "The Good / The Bad" section with one or two items listed would be good.
I like the idea of an overall FoodPrint index, their score on the three most important criteria, and a "The Good/The Bad" section. This allows the label to come in varying sizes with more or less information for the consumer to engage with.