So how do we engage with those millennials concerned about the environment; those who subscribe to the “socially responsible food movement?”
At the Alliance’s Stakeholders Summit in May, themed “Cracking the Millennial Code,” we’ll have a panel of college students from The George Washington University who will be discussing their relationship with food, as millennials. Everything from what they look for in the grocery store, to their cafeteria preferences—to yes, even how they get “the deets” (details) about farming and food production.
In preparation for this panel, I met with the four students who will be speaking at Summit late last week in GW’s new Office of Sustainability. Yes it’s true—GW has a whole office dedicated to sustainability.
You may be thinking: it’s no surprise that a “liberal,” East Coast school would have such an office—but it’s not the only one. In fact, this panel at the Alliance’s Stakeholders Summit will be moderated by a representative from Sodexo, the largest food-service provider in the U.S. and they work with countless schools nationwide to adopt more sustainable cafeteria practices.
What concerns me isn’t the desire of the GW’s and Sodexo’s of the world (and the millennials too!) to try and become more sustainable, but more, the definition of “sustainable” as it applies to meat, milk and eggs.
As with most things, we in agriculture haven’t done the best job of highlighting all of our efforts—both collectively and individually—to practice good environmental stewardship and to improve the environmental footprint of agriculture.
But more than that—we haven’t defined our “benchmarks” for sustainability—and how we achieve those goals. Without properly and concretely defining those goals, we’re leaving the door wide open for corporations, activist groups or even the government to define what sustainability means for our industry.
I’ve written before that millennials are a generation marked by indecision, a generation famous for saying one thing and doing another. Yet—time and time again, survey after survey, millennials are found to care about “causes” more than any previous generation.
And one cause that’s clearly important is the environment. I can’t wait for our Summit audience to hear what these highly intelligent, passionate individuals have to say about all things food.
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