by Bob Benenson, FamilyFarmed
FamilyFarmed is proud to share the first installment of our new Good Food Insights series in partnership with New Hope Network, producer of industry-leading annual events that include the Natural Product Expos (West and East) and the Esca Bona thought leadership conference (which is the platform for the Insights series). This series of articles that will unpack the dynamics driving Good Food. In coming months this series will feature portraits of the national Good Food landscape and individual industry sectors, and we will continue to back those insights up with facts provided through our partnership with SPINS, the leading provider of retail consumer insights, analytics reporting and consulting services for the natural, organic and specialty products industry.
This first Insights article, first published by New Hope Network on May 3, discusses the multiple definitions of “Good Food” and FamilyFarmed’s work with national experts to develop a consensus definition.
Any serious industry watcher would agree that the Good Food movement has had a major impact on how consumers view and buy food. Yet numerous interpretations of what exactly Good Food is exist.
Definitions crafted by thought leaders have many similarities, but with differences in focus and intent. For example, the Center for Good Food Purchasing puts a heavy emphasis on fair labor practices. The Michigan Good Food Charter places an intense focus on food access and better food in schools. (These and other definitions can be found in this document.)
Industry data analysts such as SPINS go more granular. The company tracks retail sales data and uses multiple layers of criteria to ascribe which individual consumer packaged goods (CPGs) are considered natural, organic and specialty products, which is yet another way of defining Good Food. By its figures, the sector has nearly doubled over just the past eight years, from $68 billion in 2010 to an estimated $134 billion in 2018.
FamilyFarmed — our advocacy nonprofit in Chicago — works to bring all these perspectives together into an aligned definition of Good Food. Our starting definition was this: Good food is food produced as locally as possible using sustainable, humane and fair practices.
Three years ago, we empaneled a Good Food Commission composed of more than two dozen experts — academics and practitioners — from across the food issues spectrum. What followed were two years of discussions and deliberations, including two commission working sessions at SPINS offices in downtown Chicago. (The commissioners are listed at the end of the comparative definitions document.)