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What I’m thankful for in the natural products industry

An exercise in gratitude for the stakeholders that have made our industry into what it is today.

There’s a gratitude journal in my bedside table that I, admittedly, have not been dutiful in filling this year.

The plan was to jot down at least three things in my life that I was grateful for every morning when I woke up—preferably at 6 a.m. before practicing yoga for an hour—in the hopes of living a more authentic, self-aware life. That didn’t exactly happen. Late nights working on deadlines, getting in a last route before the climbing gym closed and, yes, watching one more episode of some stupid Amazon Prime show necessitated later-than-ideal alarm times. Mornings were too often devoted to getting out of the door rather than expressing my thanks.

However, this holiday is the perfect time for me to express my gratitude for the organizations, people, brands, retailers and overall movements that are occurring in the natural products industry. I’ve been writing about natural for seven years now, and throughout this time period I’ve seen hugely positive shifts in our industry.

As cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” More and more people are comprehending how food is at the fulcrum of social, economical, physical, environmental and political health—and they're recognizing how natural industry tenets can improve these entities. Subsequently, our small, thoughtful group of pioneers has grown exponentially. So, I’ll start off this gratitude list by first expressing my thanks for all of you—the renegades who make, sell, supply, invest and consume the products that brought us all together in the first place.

In no particular order, here’s what else I’m grateful for:

Regenerative agriculture, for its insistence to grow and raise ingredients in a way that isn’t just “less bad” for the environment, but also in a manner that builds soil health, sequesters carbon and improves biodiversity.

Plant-based products, for helping people from all backgrounds and all walks of life celebrate the tastiness of foods made from plants.

Organic farmers, for not only dedicating their lives to tending the earth and making nutritious, synthetic pesticide-free food, but for also getting involved in organic advocacy at a national and regional level. Policy will hinge on such input.

Natural manufacturers, for caring about what goes into your products, and for paying close attention to how you source your ingredients. It’s the products—whether they be in the supplement, food, beverage, personal care or natural living categories—that drive innovation in our industry forward.

Accelerator and incubator programs, for providing kitchens, accounting services, support and more for small manufacturers with vision.

Retailers, for upholding standards, educating consumers and being on the front lines of natural. It’s you who help build brands and define what the future of the natural industry will look like decades down the road.

Conscious suppliers, for socially and economically nourishing the communities in which you source your ingredients, and for partnering with manufacturers to help them make better brands.

Certification seals, for communicating to consumers how manufacturers are using ingredients that support rainforests, that are fairly traded, that are grown organically or without pesticides and that are free from gluten or animal products. You help build confidence in our industry.

Natural associations, for advocating governmental policy that helps protect natural industry stakeholders.

Natural consumers, for understanding how natural products can bolster the health of you and your family.

My New Hope Network colleagues, for making the simple act of coming to work every day a supportive, fun, intelligent, collaborative, creative, inspiring, (and dog-filled!) environment, and for your palpable passion for promoting natural products and fostering more health for more people. It’s people that make a place, and you all are some stellar folks.  

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