Mindful Metropolis August 2010 : Page 29

a quotation is repeated on the am-bassador organics website, “you can have a pure bean and a clean leaf or one that may have any or all of these chemicals on it.” It does come down to individual choice. One of the issues has to do with food prefer-ences and taste. What they have found in the research of food deserts is that it is a function of the fact that there is less available. But also, when the quality is there, the frequency of choice is lower. They still go for the fast food instead of putting a pot of beans on the stove. You redirect that by conversation. How people talk about things is so important to individual choices. It’s the context of those choices, the popular conversation. If the conversation begins to be more that you’re poisoning your children by giving them milk with growth hormone in it, that you’re poi-soning your children with the zoo zoo’s and wham wham’s, people who care about their children will make another choice. The next person over who sees that, or is influenced by them, will make another choice. That’s what put me on the path of sustain-able agriculture, particularly biodynamic. Biodynamic is not just chemical free. Or-ganic means there are no chemicals on your stuff. Biodynamic says that there are no chemicals on your stuff, but it was also raised in a way that is mindful, that en-hances the soil, that enhances the growth processes. It tastes better, and when you’re talking about food, [taste] is the difference. Again, back to my product, some of the con-ventional products are processed with chemi-cals that have been proven to be carcinogenic. Other countries have banned those chemicals. They aren’t banned here. What is up with that? My plea to American agribusiness is this. Right now wherever you go in the world, peo-ple expect American products to be the best quality in the world. I don’t think it gets talked about enough. The rest of the world still looks up to this country as producing the best, new-est, spiffiest, whatever. If we lose the branding of quality products, we will really diminish and devalue one of our biggest selling points in the international markets. [Big] agribusiness, can’t continue to produce garbage and expect to be internationally competitive. For the little in-vestment it would take to do it right. That drives the market. What you choose is what will show up on the shelves. It’s so basic. It’s like the clean leaf and the pure bean. You’re making an infusion of something, do you want DDT and Endosulfan? It is residual amounts, but if you drink five, three, two cups of cof-fee a day, everyday for twenty years, what do you think is going on with that residual? Either your liver is working overtime to get rid of it, or you’re stockpiling it. One or the other. you are clearly a living example of the Triple bottom line approach to busi-ness. Has that been difficult for you to maintain? Doing good while doing well. You are com-mitted to social justice, environmental sus-tainability and a healthy return on your invest-ment. That’s the triple bottom line. It’s not how much you make. It’s how much money you make while being environmentally sustain-able, while being mindful of the people and the human impact of what you’re doing. We are lucky to be in a city with a large Fair Trade movement. How is ambassador organics involved in Chicago Fair Trade? I work with Nancy Jones, and I’ve given talks about [Fair Trade]. Sustainable Nutrition. Sus-tainable Economics. Sustainable Agriculture. It’s really all about sustainability. They aren’t different conversations; they’re the same con-versation. We can import coffee and tea, but if having a cup of coffee in the morning or a cup of tea in the evening is making somebody else’s life miserable, helping to produce poverty in the rest of the world, than what are we do-ing? We become complicit. [We must] do our part in creating healthy economies, sustain-able economies. If you don’t, if you continue to exploit people, that’s not sustainable…. It’s not just about what’s happening on my block in my neighborhood, it’s about how we impact people all around the world. How have your Chicago roots devel-oped your character? What would you say is the most compelling reason to stay involved in the Chicago area either in business or in politics? I talk to people about good Midwestern values. The thing about the Midwest and Chicago in particular is that people here value hard work, commitment, persever-ance—those old fashioned character attri-butes. People put a value on being upfront and straightforward about things. I’d much rather people tell me an ugly truth than lie to me. One of the prime directives of this com-pany is no lies and no surprises. On the organic side, the Midwest and Chicago are some of the slowest to adopt and embrace organic food. We are still very much on a learning curve. I went to New Zealand and was astonished by how careful people were of one another, in the positive sense. They cared about their neighbors, about what’s going on. It’s a little tougher here than there on that front. It ex-presses itself everywhere from crime to the fact that we tend to silo ourselves in com-munities here. On the social level, having more exchange, more conversation, more personal relationships would be a good thing to happen here. It hasn’t quite yet. Do your part to break it down. What have you been reading and watching? I’ve become addicted to The Tudors on Sun-day night. It is the most sympathetic portrait of Henry VIII done by anybody. It really does put what he did in context of his times. They always say that history is a foreign country. It gives you that view of the country that’s con-textual. I’m also reading a book called Redeem-ing the Gospels, it’s the church side of me. At night, before I go to sleep, I make it a point to look at something funny. I laugh when I go to sleep, and I wake up in a different place. REad moRE aboUT THis ToPiC! Visit mindfulmetropolis.com mindfulmetropolis.com 29

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