Why the Food Lab?

Why the Food Lab?

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The Sustainable Food Lab works with member companies and partners to build market incentives for climate smart agricultural practices that couple climate change mitigation and adaptation benefits.

Our flagship project is the newly formed Cool Farm Institute which brings together agricultural growers with multinational food suppliers and retailers to promote agricultural practices that mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Unilever, PepsiCo, Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Yara, Heineken and Fertilizer’s Europe have joined forces as founding members ofThe Cool Farm Institute whose mission is to enable millions of growers globally to make more informed on-farm decisions that reduce their environmental impact. Focusing on greenhouse gases in the first phase, the Institute provides the Cool Farm Tool as a quantified decision support tool that is credible and standardized. The Cool Farm Institute functions as both a knowledge platform and a tool development forum.

Leading up to the formation of the Cool Farm Institute, the Sustainable Food Lab developed and tested ways to measure and incentivize low-carbon agricultural practices through the food supply chain with a team of member companies, university researchers and technical experts in a two-year Cool Farming Options project.  Increasing soil organic matter, improving fertilizer application, and capturing methane from livestock are turning agriculture from a problem (accounting for one/sixth of global GHG emissions) into a solution (by enhancing the capacity of crops and soil to store carbon). The Cool Farming Options project supported more than 18 sponsoring companies to assess Green House Gas emissions by engaging farmers to identify management options with help from the Cool Farm Tool GHG Calculator. 

In parallel, the Sustainable Food Lab leads a learning network on “Carbon Insetting,” investigating carbon market opportunities for farmers that enhance resilience in source communities and improve reputation and security of supply for companies all the while delivering on climate change mitigation goals.

Finally, Food Lab Member the Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops is piloting a comprehensive set of performance metrics for measuring sustainable performance throughout the specialty crop supply chain.  The project seeks to offer a suite of outcomes-based metrics to enable operators at any point along the supply chain to benchmark, compare, and communicate their own performance.  Sustainable Food Lab staff help steer the development of the Index and facilitate the GHG on-farm metric.