Explore cuisine is a company that is on a mission to create a food product where “guilt and restrictions don’t exist.” Their products are made with simple, healthy ingredients that are health conscious, yet delicious. What’s better? They offer recipes online for their consumers who need a bit of inspiration for their healthy pastas. Moreover, this company prides itself on being conscious of its employees and its communities. Not only does it donate to the Food to Thrive Foundation as previously mentioned, but it also works with nonprofits in the city it all started - Red Bank, New Jersey to which it donates food for those in need. While I do think this company is on the right track, I would appreciate it if it was more upfront with comprehensive and transparent sustainability reports for its farms and production sites. I also am curious to know how their carbon emissions are impacted in order to bring the final product back to the US. However, I think for consumers who are both health conscious and eco-conscious, this product seems to meet both of these needs… and did I mention how yummy it is?
This product has one ingredient, and one ingredient only: organic edamame bean flour (aka green soybeans). As it has only one ingredient, this means that there are no sneaky additives that make you question the quality and health benefits of the product. Additionally, it is certified organic, gluten free, vegan and non-GMO which means that it caters to individuals with restrictive dietary needs as well as promotes sustainable farming practices through the use of less fertilizers and making sure that the product has not been genetically modified. This spaghetti alternative offers the “highest amount of protein and fiber with the lowest level of carbs.” While this is all good, the question remains: are soybeans environmentally friendly? This is a tough question to answer, because on their website they cite that soybeans are able to produce “significantly more protein per acre than most other uses of land.” However, depending on how soy is produced, it can lend to soil degradation and result in chemicals polluting nearby bodies of water. Further, depending on where it is grown, it also requires deforestation and disrupts small farmers. While it is important to be wary, I do think that their organic and non-GMO certifications help provide assurance that they are implementing sustainable practices for their production of edamame. Thus, given that there is only one ingredient in this product, and I think they are producing it in a sustainable manner, I am confident in saying that Explore Cuisine’s ingredient is sustainable.
On the company website, it clearly states where the different types of pastas are sourced and manufactured which all happen to be in countries outside of the United States. As for the bean pastas (which this one falls under), they are manufactured in China. While I do question how this translates into the sustainability of their production methods, I am pleased to read that they source their ingredients from farms in close proximity to the factories. Therefore, this local sourcing helps reduce further travel emissions then those that are already generated from shipping the products back to the United States. Additionally, all of their factories are certified organic and gluten free facilities, which increases my confidence in their sustainability practices in regard to their manufacturing processes. Yet, I would appreciate more information regarding the emissions that these sites produce as well as how energy efficient they are. Being that they are located in a foreign country, it is hard to know the efficiency standards they are being held to.
Based off of their website, it seems that people from the locales in which that specific crop for the various pastas is grown are the ones who grow and manufacture the pastas. That means for this specific edamame pasta it would be Chinese locals. While it is unclear whether they pay their workers a living wage or what the working conditions themselves are like, they do donate two percent of their worldwide proceeds to the Food To Thrive Foundation. Funds for this foundation are then used to provide “education, empowerment and advancement in farming programs” for their workers. On the website they say that they “believe that healthy food grows from healthy hands, hearts, and lives” so they are “dedicated to a life-giving initiative.” Presumably, if they are committed to giving back through this organization to the workers who help generate their product, I would hope and think that they are also paying them and treating them well.