Imagine waking up on a Sunday morning to the smell of bacon on the stove in the kitchen, only this bacon is carbon neutral! Sounds pretty amazing to me (and I am a vegetarian). Greenfield Natural Meat Company is a Canada based meat brand with a purpose. They are committed to creating “better food, better care for our animals, better communities and a better planet.” This applewood smoked bacon, and all of their other products are carbon neutral- although this is largely due to the company purchasing carbon offsets, not because their products are really that sustainable. In an industry that is inherently detrimental to the environment, I feel that greenfield is going a step beyond the standards, to help mitigate their footprint. Ideally, more and more people would eat a vegetarian diet, but for the meat eater’s out there, eating Greenfield Meat Company’s products is a more sustainable option.
The ingredients in the Applewood smoked bacon are pork, water, sea salt, cultured celery extract, and spice extract. There are no artificial colors or flavors in the product, and their pigs are not treated with antibiotics or growth hormones. While there are inherent issues with farming of meat products such as pollution of nearby water and air, as well as a high demand for water, Greenfield seems to be producing these innately harmful products in a way that is better for the environment. The pigs are 100% vegetarian grain fed, and their products are GreenCircle Certified. The Green Circle Certification is an independent third-party company that audits many companies on their sustainability claims, including Greenfield’s claims and facilities, supporting their belief in transparency and integrity. GreenCircle Certified conducts in-depth reviews of the facilities and practices. Green Circle certification is recognized by the EPA as a recommended Ecolabel. There is some information lacking about the packaging of Greenfield’s products. The bacon seems to be wrapped in plastic, which could easily be swapped out for another material that is compostable or recyclable, resulting in a more sustainable product, and less need for offsets.
The pigs used for Greenfield’s pork are humanely raised in open pens and are gestation crate-free. They follow the standards of the Five Freedoms, in animal welfare, encompassing both the mental and physical well-being of animals. While the pigs are crate free and treated with respect, there are some ways that Greenfield could create a more sustainable product, and not only through offsets. Pastured pigs can be used in regenerative farming techniques as their hooves dig, or till, helping loosen compacted soil, aerate the soil and stir up the ancient seed bed allowing new plants and grasses to start growing. Their manure also feeds the worms, bugs and microbes, eventually building soil. Therefore, Greenfield could improve their practices by allowing their pigs to roam and regenerate the soil. Greenfield fails to mention anything on their website about the process of processing and packaging their meat products. However, findings reported in the journal Sustainable Production and Consumption found that the life cycle assessment of a bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich added up to a carbon footprint of 1441 grams CO2 equivalent, with the largest impact coming from the bacon. This finding makes it seem like the process is likely energy intensive. A lack of transparency in this part of Greenfield’s production process leads me to believe there is something to hide, especially because they are transparent about the care standards of their pigs.
Greenfield Meat Company is dedicated to creating carbon neutral products. They have been carbon neutral since 2019 and are committed to reducing their footprint by 50% by 2025. This neutrality is rooted in the purchase of carbon offsets, which makes it difficult to assess the sustainability of the product in and of itself; their website offers little to no concrete detail about their progress in meeting their 50% reduction goal. However, Greenfield gets some bonus points in my book because they are very transparent about their offsets, and acknowledge the issues rooted in meat production. They claim to be doing as much as possible to reduce their footprint, and will make up for the shortcomings by purchasing offsets. They invested in projects throughout North America to bring their net carbon footprint to zero. These projects include forestry, biomass, landfill gas, renewable energy and composting. The company even pushed forth a “meatless Monday” campaign, encouraging people to consume less meat products because of their high carbon emissions, and motivate people to consume meat products in moderation. They created a website where consumers can find vegetarian recipes, meaningful statistics and other inspiration to reduce meat consumption. I found this to demonstrate that the company truly cares about reducing the impacts of the meat industry, not just trying to greenwash consumers into buying their products. Greenfield also recently partnered with Earth Rangers – a kids’ conservation organization, committed to instilling environmental knowledge to take action with every child in Canada. I admire the company’s desire to create change outside of just their factories.