Throughout the year New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility collects "Just One Thing" stories of sustainability initiatives from across the state, in the areas of community, environment and workplace. These leading efforts are then showcased as part of NHBSR's Sustainability Slam in the fall. Last year Pete and Gerry's Organic Eggs won NHBSR's 2018 Sustainability Slam for its invaluable contributions to not only New Hampshire communities, but communities across the US.
Pete and Gerry's in Monroe, NH is a 3rd generation, family-owned organic and free range egg producer. By partnering with over 120 small family farms, Pete and Gerry's is able to provide Certified Humane® eggs to households across the US, bucking a market dominated by conventional farming practices. And over the last five years, Pete and Gerry's has been bucking dominant players on another front, this time with the US Food and Drug Administration.
Pete and Gerry's winning Just One Thing presentation at NHBSR's Sustainability Slam centered on the company's campaign against the FDA's antiquated labelling restrictions on eggs. The administration's guidelines, which are based off of outdated and debunked research from the 1980s and 1990s, have shaped consumer perceptions of food over the past several decades. The FDA warns consumers about the cholesterol in eggs being a risk factor to cardiovascular disease and does not recommend eggs as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle. Meanwhile, other food items, such as Jell-o and canned soups can be labelled as healthy if the products are fortified with vitamins.
"Unprocessed, unadulterated and natural eggs are being regarded as unhealthy, while heavily processed foods loaded with sugar and salt are being labelled as healthy," says Paul Turbeville, Vice President of Marketing at Pete and Gerry's Organic Eggs, "It's a little heartbreaking to hear the same story time and time again. Someone will come up to us and tell us how much they love our eggs. They will say how wonderful and delicious they think our eggs are and that they love what we do to support family farms and communities. But then they also say they have to reduce eggs in their diet because of the cholesterol."
In 2015 the US Department of Agriculture and Health and Human Services worked collaboratively to update their nutritional guidelines based on current research. They changed their positon on dietary cholesterol and concluded that eggs can be part of a healthy diet and lifestyle. The FDA did not follow suit and their healthy labeling requirements actually do not match the nutritional guidelines from the USDA and Health Department.
"We reached a point of frustration," says Paul, "Because research was telling us how eggs are not a risk, but our consumers were still confused and being given all this dated information. So we asked: what role can we play?"
"Take on the FDA."
Pete and Gerry's developed a multipronged approach. They worked with a law firm to craft a petition to try and get the FDA to enact changes. Expert nutritionists were brought in as consultants to ensure the petition was scientifically backed. In addition to driving change at the federal level, the petition was a way for Pete and Gerry's to engage with and educate consumers. Media traction everywhere from the Wall Street Journal to Bloomberg's then served as a platform to catapult the issue into the public eye.
"We did a lot on our own digital channels," says Paul, "We went about educating consumers about nutritional food choices and tried to make it fun. Interestingly, younger consumers who didn't grow up with all of the negative publicity see our campaign as a bit of a no brainer. They can't believe eggs would be regarded as unhealthy. Now, we're just eagerly awaiting the FDA's release of new healthy labeling requirements and we hope they will make the right move."
You can learn more about Pete and Gerry's winning Just One Thing story by attending NHBSR's Sustainability Slam on November 7 at LaBelle Winery in Amherst, NH. "The Slam is full of great stories that, like ours, can inspire businesses big and small to take on really important issues. We can be a force for change."
Connect with Paul at our Sustainability Slam on Nov 7 at Labelle Winery in Amherst, NH! Any company or nonprofit in New Hampshire is welcomed to attend the Sustainability Slam and submit a Just One Thing story at nhbsr.org/jot. Top submissions will be featured in the NH Business Review and presented at the Slam. This year's Sustainability Slam presenting sponsor is Velcro.
**Stories submitted by August 21 get entered into a drawing for free Sustainability Slam tickets and those submitted by August 14 get entered in twice!
Watch Pete and Gerry's Organic Eggs' 's winning Just One Thing story video here.
Submit your Just One Thing story here.