It’s with some consternation, as we announce our annual NBJ Awards, to note that three of the 10 awards are titled “growth.” At no time has it been more apparent that growth is not, in and of itself, something to celebrate. Today’s is an age of an ever-growing population, a growing political divide, growing incidents of diet-related disease, a growing sense of disconnection and so on.
The drive for economic growth, long the mantra of corporations and nations—and the measure of their success—increases the demand for raw materials while putting downward pressure on costs, driving more extractive methods of raw materials capture and more exploitative engagement of those performing the extraction. The reality that traditional economic growth is a cornerstone of environmental degradation, social inequality and the dismantling of communities may not be news—and companies from giant corporations to tiny startups are indeed taking note—but even as behaviors change, the paradigm of extractive growth remains the foundation on which economic activity is built and measured.
Against that backdrop, the natural products and dietary supplements industries often chant a different mantra, telling a story of regeneration, both ecological and social. The NBJ Awards celebrate these shifting attitudes by honoring individuals, organizations and companies that put demonstrable action behind these stories.
In a way, each of the 10 awards is about growth: growth of ideas and ideals, growth of equitable social networks and growth of regenerative supply chains. Even the three growth awards are selected not simply by the numbers but by the qualities of growth exhibited by companies—large, medium and small—whose economic expansion gives hope for a shifting paradigm.
And in a way, each of the 10 individuals and organizations honored here are being celebrated for stewardship, philanthropy, science, education and the rest. Those qualities build the foundation of good practices necessary to reverse the downsides of growth.
The cannabis category has been wrought with legal challenges, misinformation and opportunism—and blessed with opportunity. CW Hemp was an early pioneer in both medical marijuana and CBD, and their perseverance and integrity are paying off for the company.
Ritual’s model is streamlined: a modest product offering targeting a limited audience. But it’s working. Their commitment to science and quality ingredients has captivated that audience to bring unprecedented growth with an online-only model.
M2 Ingredients and Om Mushroom Superfoods are not new companies, but a foundation of expertise and science found both poised for big growth in the recent mushroom boom.
In just a few short years, Eric Ryan and team took Olly to the mainstream—and then to an acquisition by Unilever—by bringing quality condition-specific supplements, clearly and eye-catchingly marketed, to a new generation of consumers.
Megafood takes activism and education well beyond the immediate needs of the supplement industry to the broader needs of the food industry and human health with a mission to educate consumers about the shortcomings of our agricultural system.
Creating the American Herbal Pharmacopeia seemed an overwhelming task, until Roy Upton did it. He served the entire herbal products industry in the process by setting the standard for herbal monographs.
Bacteria are not alone in forming the microbiome, and the founders of BIOHM are researching and presenting personalized healing regimens that emphasize the role of fungi and the identification of the mycobiome.
Depleted fish populations, improperly labeled species and consumer confusion have challenged the seafood industry, but Vital Choice Wild Seafood & Organics hits the problem head on with responsible harvesting and exemplary traceability and transparency.
The founders of Traditional Medicinals didn’t know what they were getting into when they created the wellness tea category 45 years ago; they just knew they wanted to create healing teas from medicinal-grade botanicals. The result of their efforts is a global network built on high ideals of caring for people, plants and the planet at every turn.
By preserving traditional wild-harvesting methods and cataloging new cultivation techniques, United Plant Savers has, since 1994, tirelessly worked to ensure the conservation of medicinal plants.
Growth is not a metric to applaud until it is questioned about both what is growing and how it’s growing. NBJ is asking these questions, and the organizations and individuals honored here are providing the right kind of answers.