Our farms are going solar. This week, Organic Valley—an independent cooperative of over 2,000 small family organic farmers—announced plans to operate off of 100 percent renewable energy by 2019. If it succeeds, it will become the largest food company in the world to do so.
You probably recognize Organic Valley's red barn logo from the dairy aisle, as their popular dairy, eggs, and cheese average $1 billion in annual sales. The co-op's board is made up entirely of farmers, and the fact that they passed this measure signals an exciting shift in the food production industry. While every individual farmer will not be required to switch over to clean energy, Organic Valley's office buildings, processing facilities, and distribution centers will all run off of renewable energy purchased from the Upper Midwest Municipal Energy Group—an energy distributor a stone's throw away from the company's Wisconsin headquarters.
By relying on a local provider for their clean energy shift, Organic Valley will single handedly increase the state's overall solar energy use by 15 percent. Each solar installation will also be surrounded by pollinator-friendly vegetation (think native flowers instead of turf or gravel) in order to further promote a healthy surrounding environment. And that's something even the dairy-free among us can celebrate.
The future of food is looking bright. Here's another sustainable innovation that could change the way we eat.