Sustainable lifestyles: An introduction to green business |

Sustainable lifestyles: An introduction to green business

Nikki Florio

Editor’s note: This is the first in what will become regular dedicated columns in the Tahoe Daily Tribune on Wednesday written by Nicoletta Florio, founder and director of the Tahoe Regional Environmental Education Program.

Headlines everywhere warn about global environmental destruction, deforestation, contamination, ballooning national debt, terrorism and other atrocities.

These headlines are now so widespread that people have several different reactions to them ranging from apathy and disbelief, to an innate drive to help make life better.

The latter are the people who, in the end, are the ones creating positive change and are the true heroes of life.

While there is no doubt global environmental change is occurring, knowing how to help solve problems, both global and local, begins with education.

All of the problems listed above are connected in many ways. The more we learn about each aspect of upset, the more we realize these problems are intricately linked. To educate ourselves about these issues takes time and effort, but the rewards are well worth both.

The key to a healthy environment, society and pocketbook lie within a simple network of emerging businesses termed Green Business.

Green Business describes eco and socio-friendly businesses. From development to production and promotion, these businesses practice environmental and social sustainability for themselves, their employees and their customers. They cover the same areas as mainstream businesses but include healthier, higher quality, long-term benefits than their counterparts.

There is an old-school belief that any type of ecological or socially responsible business is a tree-hugging, granola-munching, profit-siphoning business. Untrue. Sustainable business is the way of the future. It’s the finest and only way to keep our planet and ourselves happy and healthy.

Because all of us eat every day I have chosen organic food and the businesses connected to it, as my introductory theme for Green Business and sustainability.

The Organic Food Industry in our area includes businesses who purchase or supply organic/biodynamic foods. These businesses range from restaurants and caterers to hospitals and schools.

What makes organic food higher quality?

Organic foods are Third Party Certified. The certifiers ensure farms to continually conduct soil, water, packaging and processing plant tests. These businesses are held to standards far outweighing their mainstream counterparts.

Organic foods are produced without the use of pesticides, fungicides, herbicides and inorganic fertilizers. Certification disallows genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) and biotechnologically (Bt) produced foods into the system. Dairy cattle and livestock such as beef cattle, fryer chickens, laying hens, and pigs are not given antibiotics, rBGH (recumbent bovine growth hormone), tranquilizers or steroids.

Under organic certification they are not being fed other animal byproducts such as bones, feathers, tumors and organs. In fact organically raised meats must eat only organic food themselves, to be certified.

Organic food production – whether it’s meat or vegetable – is far superior from farm to our table than any industrialized food source.

Because organic foods are farmed in a sustainable fashion starting with rich organic soils, clean water supplies and natural pest control, they contain at least 30 percent more vitamins and up to 300 percent more minerals than industrialized foods.

So why don’t more food vendors such as resorts, restaurants, hospitals, and schools carry them? Perceived costs.

It is our unfortunate nature as human beings, to spend horrendous amounts of money on big SUV’s, gargantuan homes, cell phones, and super-sized potato chips from Wal-Mart, and to groan over a 15-cent-per-pound difference when purchasing organic versus regular bananas.

Organic foods generally cost more. Why? Because they’re worth it. Better taste, greater nutritional value, better aroma. Forget the old worm-in-the-apple view of organics. Organic fruits and vegetables may be slightly smaller – that is only because of less water content/greater fiber content – but their beautiful rich color, aromatic fragrance and delicious flavor makes them a winner by a mile in any fruit salad.

Organic foods no matter where you’re getting them – your local grocery store, a casino or resort restaurant, in a caring hospital – are always worth paying a little more for.

When businesses sell organic products it’s because they care more. They care more about you, your family, the planet and even the employees who worked in the fields picking the product. When you serve organics in your own home, you are investing in your body, the planet, greater business ethics and practices and the ones’ you value most, your family.

Organic foods are also the fastest growing sector of the food industry, outdoing industrialized foods by 28 percent per year over the last six years.

Fortunately for us, we have several organic options in Tahoe. We will be highlighting these restaurants, stores and caterers and suppliers in later columns.

Eat well. Live well.

– Contact Nikki Florio at (530) 314-9400 or by e-mail at

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