23 minutes | Feb 14, 2017

BIG003 - Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream

A conversation with Chris Miller, Ben & Jerry's Social Mission Activism Manager, about how climate change is impacting my favorite ice cream flavors. http://www.beforeitsgone.show Become a supporter: https://www.patreon.com/beforeitsgone SHOW HIGHLIGHTS: "Climate change sucks. You know, we're a food company, right. We're sourcing ingredients from all over the world. We're sourcing milk and dairy products from thirty miles north of here, from the northwestern corner of Vermont, and we're sourcing things like vanilla, cocoa and coffee from the global south. So, many of the products that we put into a pint that create people's favorite flavors, you know, come from places that could be profoundly impacted by climate change. In fact, we're already beginning to see some impact on a certain aspects of the supply chain. So, if you look at things like coffee or you look at things like vanilla or cocoa, these are commodities that are already being impacted by changing climate patterns." "What we try and do is not to source just commodities. We seek to build long-term relationships with our supply chain partners. So for example we've been working with a coffee cooperative in Mexico in a region called Huatusco. It’s about fifteen hundred farmers that grow coffee, and we've been sourcing coffee from them for a number of years. So what we like about that approach is it allows us to build better, more deeper relationships with the communities that are growing the things we're putting into our pints. It allows us to really invest more in these communities over time. And we think all of that helps create a, you know, better tasting ingredients, so that's the approach we like to take." "I think our flavor gurus are sort of sitting back here in the lab thinking about great new flavors. And I think, you know, we are concerned about the changes that we're seeing globally and in regions where sourcing ingredients." "Our hope is that through action at a macro level, as a planet, you know, The Paris Climate Agreement, the idea that we are really beginning to see a break in the link between economic growth and greenhouse gas emissions. That's a really important sign. I think you know, the rapid uptake that we are seeing in renewables, the innovation in things like electric vehicles all give us hope that over time, you know, we could avoid the worst impacts of climate change. I think the other thing that we need to be doing and that we're beginning to do, is investing in these communities, these communities that are growing ingredients for us, to do two things. One, help them diversifying a their economy so they're not just focus on growing a single commodity that can wipe the community out if there's of an extreme weather event. And the second is to invest a bit in climate resilience. So it’s our hope that, you know, we will still have access to great cocoa, vanilla and coffee. But you know there are risks." "We don't want people to avoid purchasing these flavors. Right. The point here is to put on the table what’s at risk, but we want people to continue to support the coffee-growing regions, the coca-growing regions, the vanilla-growing regions of the world. And so I think by highlighting their vulnerability hopefully we can motivate people to support the kinds of policies and actions that will save these communities and their favorite flavors." "Yeah, I mean if you think about our sort of impact, and what’s in a pint - we’re a dairy company. I mean, we buy a whole bunch of milk and cream and that’s, obviously, our single biggest purchase from an ingredient perspective. It's also where our largest impact is."
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