Gary Hirshberg is one thoughtful dude – and he’s built a business around that. Stonyfield Farm yogurt is only kinda local, but it is a very environmenally conscious product. Hirschberg did extensive studies looking into the carbon footprints of the milk for Stonyfield, discovering that getting powdered milk from New Zealand, where most cows are grass fed and pastured, shipped on a boat to NH would be environmentally more sensitive than getting liquid milk trucked from Wisconsin, where the corn the cows eat and the cooled trucks for the milk added a lot more carbon to the journey. Of course, he’d get it all locally if he could, but we don’t produce the quantity of organic milk that Stonyfield needs – but we should talk about all that sugar and where the fruit is coming from. I would love to see yogurt sweetened with honey or maple syrup – and where’s my rhubarb flavored yogurt?
updated 7/17/08 – just in case this wasn’t clear, Stonyfield didn’t go ahead with milk from New Zealand, just looked into it.
More from the Seacoast Local press release:
What can small businesses learn about sustainability from international companies? Gary Hirshberg, founder of Stonyfield Farm, comes to Portsmouth on March 20 to talk about building profits based on a message of environmental and social responsibility,The “Making the Connection” speaker series, sponsored by Seacoast Local and RiverRun Bookstore, aims to be a catalyst for continuing education, community connections, and sustainable change.Hirshberg’s “Stirring It Up: How to Make Money and Save the Word” (Hyperion Books, 2008) outlines how consumers and businesses can be forces for positive and tangible change.Hirshberg, 53, has overseen the growth of Stonyfield Farm from its infancy as a seven-cow organic farming school in 1983 to its current $300 million annual sales as the worlds largest organic yogurt company. This growth has been built with innovative marketing techniques that often combine the social, environmental, and financial missions of the company. One of the company’s five missions is “to serve as a model that environmentally and socially responsible businesses can also be profitable.In fact, Hirshberg has been at the forefront of movements working for environmental and social transformation for 30 years. In the early days of Stonyfield, he wore many hats – from yogurt-maker to bookkeeper. He served as director of the Rural EducationCenter, the small organic farming school from which Stonyfield was spawned. Before that, he was executive director of The New Alchemy Institute, an ecological institute devoted to organic agriculture, aquaculture and renewable energy systems. Hirshberg was also the Founding President of the Cape Cod Environmental Coalition which sued the US Air Force over a large radar facility that has recently returned to the news. And he was the Founding Chairman of the Cape and Islands Self-Reliance Corporation. Earlier in his career, he was a water-pumping windmill specialist, an author, an environmental education specialist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and a manager of environmental tours to the People’s Republic of ChinaHirshberg is a New Hampshire native and was one of the first graduates of Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. He has received six honorary doctorates. He serves on several corporate and non- profit boards including Honest Tea, Sambazon, Inc., Peak Organic Brewing and as the Chairman/Cofounder of O’Naturals, a chain of organic and natural fast food restaurants. He co-chaired The Social Venture Network for 5 years and is the Founder of the Social Venture Institute, a “boot camp” for community-minded entrepreneurs.Hirshberg will read at RiverRun Bookstore, located at 20 Congress Street in downtown Portsmouth. For more information on the book, visit www.stonyfield.com/stirringitup. For more details on the event, call 603-431-2100 or visit www.riverrunbookstore.com. For more information on Seacoast Local, visit www.seacoastlocal.org.