The Washington chapter of The Nature Conservancy is one of our newest WA members, and we talked with them to learn more about their work and why they care about a sustainable food system.
Tell us about The Nature Conservancy’s work in the sustainable food world.
As we’re approaching a planetary population of 9 billion people, the amount of food we’re going to need will put a lot of pressure on natural resources. The Nature Conservancy is working to find ways to harmonize food production systems with conservation, so that the planet can feed people, and we will still have clean water for people to drink, for recreation and to support healthy fisheries and other natural systems.
What is the Washington chapter of The Nature Conservancy working on?
- We’re working with farmers and shellfish growers who are figuring out how to produce clean water and habitat for Puget Sound in a way that’s good for their own business.
- We’re working with commercial fishermen who are developing innovative gear and practices for sustainable fisheries.
- We’re working to connect producers who are implementing sustainable farming practices with higher-value markets to ensure their profitability and viability.
What are you most excited about in the sustainable food field right now?
There is greater consumer awareness and demand for sustainably produced food. It’s creating a marketplace pull and business case for farmers and fisherman to maintain and increase conservation practices that are good for the environment and their bottom line. That tends to be a more powerful and sustainable motivator than changes driven solely by regulation and policy.
Why do you think the chef community is crucial to support in sustainable practices?
Chefs are the gatekeepers of the food system. They drive demand for good food and can build awareness of how food production and conservation is connected to our well-being and quality of life. By making connections with the farmers and fishermen they can help bridge the rural-urban divide and generate greater public and private sector support for conserving wild and working lands.
Why are you a member of Chefs Collaborative?
Chefs Collaborative is leading the way in bringing the issue of conservation and sustainable food production to the forefront, creating awareness that conservation is not just about cute cuddly animals, but about the food that nourishes us and secures a future of abundant fisheries, resilient farms and sustains the lands and waters that sustain us all.
What’s next for The Nature Conservancy?
We’re working with farmers and other food producers to coordinate conservation and agriculture interests so we are working together and not in conflict. We’re working to shape state and federal funding for bigger impacts. We’re working with the business community to grow the market for sustainable food, and we’re working to connect producers with the market.