Deborah Kane, Jonathan Moscatello, Scott Exo, and Cindy Hayford all for The Food Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting environmentally and socially responsible agriculture.

Tuesday, 29 May 2001

PORTLAND, Ore.

Deborah Kane, Food Alliance executive director.

First, let me introduce myself. I’m Deborah Kane, and I play the role of executive director here at The Food Alliance. Other players include my six colleagues here in Portland, the 60 Food Alliance-approved farmers and ranchers in the Northwest, our wholesale and retail partners, our colleagues at The Midwest Food Alliance in Minnesota, our board of directors and stewardship council, and, last but certainly not least, the consumer members and shoppers who buy Food Alliance-approved products at their local grocery stores, farm stands, and farmer’s markets. Each member of our team plays an integral role in pursuing our vision of marketplace rewards for farmers and ranchers practicing sustainable agriculture.

Here’s how our program works: Farmers and ranchers who meet our strict eligibility criteria label their products with The Food Alliance seal of approval. Consumers look for the seal when they shop and buy with the knowledge that they are supporting farmers who are caring for the environment and providing safe and fair working conditions for farm workers. (Tomorrow, learn more about the approval process and join us for a visit to a Food Alliance-approved farm.)

Credibility with consumers is at the core of our program’s success. (Later this week, you’ll have the opportunity to see how we are doing this in both farmer’s markets and supermarkets across the Northwest.) While we aspire to create marketplace rewards for responsible producers, we make it pretty tough for them to earn our seal of approval. Food Alliance-approved farmers represent the cream of the crop, practicing environmental stewardship and social responsibility.

Our banners in a Thriftway grocery store.

In fact, ensuring credibility is so important to us, we created a Stewardship Council to bring together a diverse group of agricultural experts and stakeholders to regularly review our evaluation criteria. The council consists of representatives from Environmental Defense, Oregon Environmental Council, Defenders of Wildlife, the Office of Rural and Farmworker Housing, the state university system, and the state government.

We are further adding strength to The Food Alliance name by forming partnerships across the country. This year we forged a partnership with The Midwest Food Alliance in St. Paul, Minn., and we are currently exploring a number of opportunities for expansion to other regions as well.

Over the next few days, I hope you’ll join my colleagues and me as we reveal how each of our programs is doing its part to encourage sustainable agriculture practices and to provide you with good food for a healthy future!