Posted in Features

3 Enterprise Lessons from Canada’s new Food Guide

On Tuesday, the 22nd of January, 2019, Health Canada released a revised food guide for the country and this had different reactions follow the new development. According to the Government of Canada’s website, Health Canada is responsible for helping Canadians maintain and improve their health. It ensures that high-quality health services are accessible, and works to reduce health risks.

This new development is expected to have different effects on businesses depending on what services and products they offer. For example, the dairy and meat industry seems threatened as they fear the decline in sales because the new food guide lumps lean meat and dairy with more plant proteins as sources of good protein as against the special place meat and dairy had in the last food guide.

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A summary of the new food guide

  • Eat a variety of healthy foods each day
  • Avoid processed foods and beverages that are high in saturated fats, sodium, and sugar.
  • Cook more often and eat meals with others
  • Be mindful of your eating habits – but enjoy your food.

The food guide simply emphasized the eating of more plant-based meals, drinking water and cooking at home. It did away with the four food groups and advice on the number of servings to eat each day.

This guide has been welcomed with different reactions. Advocates of vegetarian and vegan styles of eating are happy while the meat and dairy advocates feel its a political stunt. Either way, businesses would be affected positively and negatively. As with guides with national recognition, it is highly possible that businesses that have their activities centered around plant-based foods experience a surge in patronage while the dairy and meat businesses experience a drop in patronage. This brings me to the lessons I learned from the whole food guide issue.

3 Lessons for Enterprise owners

  • A culture built around foresight: If you do not have foresight as one of the pillars of decision-making in your business, please create one. I know we all have what we want our businesses to look like and most importantly earn in future but this is beyond just focusing financial projections. If I was a Canadian businesswoman in the food and dairy industry, with all the debates around how the meat and dairy industry contributes largely to greenhouse gases, I would have probably changed businesses or readdress my model to create value through plants too. This new food guide would not come as a shock to me because Canada has a government that listens to its citizens and does what seems best for them. We would all agree that that food guide is not one that has the influence of any industry. Health professionals have attributed chronic illnesses like diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure to the consumption of highly processed food including meat, dairy, sugar, and saturated fats.
  • Be innovative: The quest for sustainability – business continuity drives innovation. With the way the world is going, one cannot afford to stick to a business model for too long. We have to constantly revise our models to suit current trends as these trends tend to affect consumer choices. We do not need to be reminded that we also have to be customer-centric as they dictate whether you remain in business or not – you would not produce anything that no one needs. You sell food? How about having a brand that looks to satisfy the healthy eater, not-so-healthy and those who want to just eat?
  • Be on the good side always: I will find a way to explain this. We all know what is good from what is bad but we have choices. A Nigerian adage says that “If a lie travels for 20 years, the truth would catch up with it one day”. In my opinion, more countries are going to address their food guides because the cost of managing a chronic illness that has been associated with lifestyle choice – cancer inclusive keeps going high. If we could prevent this illness by adopting healthy eating habits and lifestyles generally, they would become mainstream one day. So if you are business that uses a product that is dependent on a potentially harmful item, get ready to change businesses or source for better alternatives because one day, the right thing to do would stare at you in the face and you would have no choice than to embrace it.

I hope with these few points of mine, I have been able to let you see that it is not enough to just go towards where the money is now but to use eco-social thinking to innovate and create shared value for all.

Posted in Features

The Cadmium Crisis: Lessons from Sony’s environmental disaster.

In October 2001, a shipment owned by Sony was stopped from being sent to retailers by the Dutch government because of unacceptable levels cadmium.

The problem

The wires in the game consoles in over 1.3 million boxes worth $160 million had low but unacceptable levels of this toxic metal. They rushed to replace the wires but missed the Christmas sales.

The cost

Asides from losing sales to the tune of $160 million, they invested 18 months in the investigation of 6000 factories to trace the source of the error. Taking it further, they lost man-hours and raw materials. No business has to go through all of this when issues like this can be prevented from occurring at all.

The lessons.

  1. The best companies can have environmental issues.
  2. Environmental issues become social issues (they affect people too).
  3. These issues can cost real money.

So what can be done to prevent similar occurrences?

It is important to understand that everything that is material to business operations has to be handled with the highest level of seriousness. It is also important to get out of the mindset that a business exists solely to give maximum returns on invested financial capital.

These said, would you still leave everything to chance?

The future would not sort itself, you will sort it out with what you do today.

Take charge of tomorrow, develop a culture around foresight today!

Posted in Features

Plant-based Human Diet: Killing Two Birds with One Stone

It is no longer news that consuming too much processed red meat is not good for our health. However, there is a new catch: reducing the consumption of red meat is also good for the environment.

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More Greens, Less Red.
Most people think of a plant-based diet as consuming just green leaves and fruits. I used to think so too until I watched a documentary by Journalist Michael Pollan titled In Defense of Food on Netflix. In the exact words of the Professor of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” He referred to it the summary of all he learned about healthy eating in seven words. Eat real food – grains, meat, fruits, vegetables, and not edible food-like substances – highly processed meats, grains, sugars, and oils.

The first bird: Good Health
The Western diet, which is what most of us consume these days is made up of white flour products made from refined grains, lots of meat and processed meat, vegetable oils, and refined sugar. They are cheap, convenient and processed to taste really good. These options do not come without consequences. They are bad for our health. The World Health Organization reported that “Of the 56.9 million deaths worldwide in 2016, more than half (54%) were due to the top 10 causes. Ischaemic heart disease and stroke are the world’s biggest killers, accounting for a combined 15.2 million deaths in 2016. These diseases have remained the leading causes of death globally in the last 15 years. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease claimed 3.0 million lives in 2016, while lung cancer (along with trachea and bronchus cancers) caused 1.7 million deaths. Diabetes killed 1.6 million people in 2016, up from less than 1 million in 2000.”

Cancer, Diabetes, Stroke, and Heart diseases are related to the foods we consume and how often we get our heart rates up. When managing these lifestyle illnesses, nutrition comes atop. Patients are advised to stay away from highly processed foods and consume more green vegetables and fruits instead.

The second bird: A Sustainable Environment
The first time I heard about the impact of eating red meat on the environment was in my postgraduate class. I did not take it seriously until recently. One may wonder, “How does eating red meat affect the environment negatively?” The only way to understand it is to trace where beef comes from and everything that is involved in the production of red meat and products made from it. Technically, that is called a Life Cycle Analysis.
The following facts as found on the ProVeg International website may interest you.

1. Farmed animals are responsible for 14.5% of greenhouse gases
2. Animal agriculture is responsible for half of the food-related greenhouse gases
3. The production of 1kg of beef releases 16-30kg of carbon dioxide
4. The top 20 meat and dairy corporations produce more greenhouse gases than the whole Germany
5. In total, the global food system contributes 30% of man-made emissions.

Greenhouse gases are responsible for global warming which has been documented to lead to rising sea levels. The increase in temperature poses threats to our existence. It affects food production, causes water shortage, and increases the occurrence of diseases caused by mosquitoes and similar vectors that thrive in stagnant waters and filthy environments.

The United Nations has something to say
The recent UN Climate Report identifies meat consumption as a barrier to stay below 1.5°C. We would recall that we have been told that we must do everything we can to ensure that we don’t get near a global temperature increase of 2.0°C in order to prevent irreversible catastrophes.
Climate Tracker, in a Synthesis report on the relation between Meat Consumption & climate change in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, stated that The agricultural system is the major contributor of CH4 and N2O emissions that are very hard to eliminate with current technologies assumed in integrated models.

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So should we all be vegan/vegetarian?
One might ask, “If everyone stopped consuming meat and its products, would we be able to keep up with the supply of plant foods?” The simple answer is yes. This is because plant foods especially vegetables make you fuller with lesser calories than the same quantity of meat with more calories.
In the documentary, Food Choices, Jim Morris Hicks, author of Healthy Eating, Healthy World said that per calorie, a high meat diet requires an average of 10 times more energy, more land, and more water when compared to plant-based diet. This means that reducing the consumption of red meat would free up more land area that can be used to grow more real food for humans.

Going further, Marco Springmann, a research fellow at the Oxford Martin School’s Future of Food programme, tried to find out what would happen if everyone became vegetarian by 2050. Their results indicated that food-related emissions would drop by about 60% and if we all went vegan instead, emissions would drop by around 70%.

The way forward: Less Demand, Less Production
The only reason any product or service remains in existence is that there is a demand for it. Once consumers demand less, less would be produced. If we all reduced the amount of red meat and its processed products, there would no need to have industrial farms and we would have farms that grow real food for humans instead.
Pete Smith, the former convening lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said: “The need to reduce demand for livestock products is now a scientifically mainstream view. Only a significant decrease in meat and milk consumption will allow us to deliver a food system fit for the future – for the benefit of humans and the planet as a whole. Producing the same mix of foods as we consume now, even if we were to do so more sustainably, cannot deliver the reduction in environmental impacts we need to protect the planet for our children and their children.”


Posted in Features

World Clean-up Day in Pictures

The World Clean-up Day was marked all around the world yesterday, September 15th, 2018. Clean ups were organized in 152 countries and I can say that it was the biggest volunteering event to address waste disposal and collection. Lets do it World, a waste collection movement started the it by calling on everyone to rid our planet of trash. Target areas were beaches, rivers street and illegal trash points.

The results as at yesterday had it that over 14.5 million volunteers from 75 countries with more expected to be accounted for by the end of today. The global event gave an opportunity to educate people about the importance of proper waste disposal and overall management.

We cannot downplay the importance of proper waste disposal and management in cutting down the emission of greenhouse gases, reduction in the incidence of communicable diseases and overall pollution of land and water courses.

SustyVibes, the social enterprise I volunteer with was not left out of the fun (we love what we do) as members took to Ajegunle, a popular slum in Lagos State to clean up the area and educating people about waste management.

I am happy because I can see a bright future where sustainability would become mainstream. The young generation are taking the lead and making sustainability actionable for people. Here are some pictures from around the world;

SustyVibers in Lagos after cleaning up Ajegunle


A diver from the Barracuda Club and a volunteer with the Zero Waste association shows the garbage picked up from the beach during World Cleanup Day in Dakar, Senegal. Image by: REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

A volunteer cleans up and removes waste from a beach during the World Cleanup Day in Marseille, France.REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier

Volunteers seen on Iwo road, Ibadan.


Susty Vibers in Portharcourt

Did you volunteer yesterday? Feel free to send in your pictures via my twitter handle @rukyspeaks