Environment Forum

It’s not just fancy. It’s green.

When munching on a sumptuous spread of white truffles, sampling almonds tucked into syrupy preserved figs or chomping on a cigar-sized chunky chocolate bar, do you ever wonder about these luxury foods’ environmental impact?

Apparently lots of consumers do — enough that organic, sustainable and otherwise “green” foods are proliferating at this year’s Fancy Food Show.

Usually held in New York City, the trade show for artisanal, niche and rare comestibles was moved this year to Washington D.C. The U.S. capital’s convention center, which next month will host robotic weapons systems, is the current home to literally thousands of food stalls promoting their wares to the trade. Even if environmental stewardship is not paramount for some companies, many offer at least some products with green cred, since this is what wholesale buyers and their customers demand, according to Louise Kramer, communications director for the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade.

“Specialty food consumers are looking for things like sustainability, fair trade and natural products,” Kramer said as she walked the aisles of the show. “Our companies are typically small businesses, entrepreneurial, artisanal and family businesses … who make food that’s the opposite of mass market food.” It may not be mass market, but the specialty food business accounted for more than $70 billion in sales last year, the association said.

As she walked, she read off slogans for various products: “Fresh, natural, sinful,” “We support American farmers,” “No sugar added,” “No hydrogenated oils.”

Sprouting business

Marie Larsson, Director of Operations at Toronto Sprouts, discusses the benefits of growing food in a downtown location.