When Native Sun opened in 1996, owners Aaron and Erica envisioned themselves as “health educators,” determined to improve their own lives as well as the lives of their customers. For Aaron and Erica, improving their quality of life meant taking control of their food supply, demanding the highest quality organic foods free of GMOs and other harmful additives. Building a reputation based on their thorough research and uncompromising standards, Native Sun grew, becoming a trusted purveyor of both organic foods and knowledge. In response to customer concerns about the considerable environmental impact of running a business, Native Sun embraced opportunities to reduce waste and become more environmentally friendly. With the introduction of plant-sourced, biodegradable plastic bags, the development of a ride share program, and numerous expansions and constructions according to stringent environmentalist guidelines, Native Sun as a whole reduced its ecological footprint.
However, there are flaws in trying to do everything, and while we strive to implement progressive, environmentally friendly methods and materials into our business, we recognize that our strength remains our ability to select the finest organic products without jeopardizing our standards or the health of our customers. Even as we work diligently to ensure the quality of the products on our store shelves, legislation passes through our Nation’s governing bodies that endangers not only organics, but also the entirety of our food supply. With the failure to pass the “Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act,” which would require that all products containing genetically engineered materials be labeled accordingly, GMOs continue to run rampant, polluting the food found in mainstream groceries across the country (Crenshaw 2011). Unfortunately, those with the power to enact change in legislation concerning the integrity of our food supply eat blindly from the hands of the FDA, believing, like Congressman Ander Crenshaw, that “Genetically engineered foods, as well as traditional hybrid foods, must meet the rigorous provisions of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act,” and “that the genetically engineered foods that have been introduced thus far are as safe as other traditional foods” while providing canned responses to legitimate inquiries (Crenshaw 2011).
Powerless against the forces of nature that will spread GMO seed and contaminate crops, organic foods are at once vulnerable and unprotected. We want our customers to stand beside us in the fight for clean food. We should not expect everyone on the planet to purchase a hybrid car or abstain from indulging in the electronic euphoria of the latest and greatest cell phones, televisions, and other gadgets. Nor can we expect that everyone will turn off the lights when they leave a room or only shop organic. Nonetheless, our own awareness might be the only universal solution capable of solving the environmental problems threatening our planet.
Thus, on Earth Day, Native Sun asks that you recognize what works for you and build off of your drive and enthusiasm for that particular activity or habit. Forget trying to do it all. Recycle, ride your bike to work, buy a reusable water bottle or grocery bag, but recognize the importance even these seemingly small changes can have in terms of reducing stress on the environment and your body. Let others learn from the choices you make. Let them ask questions and formulate their own opinions. Generate the awareness that can change the planet. Forcing sustainable practices and environmentalism on others only invites trouble and frustration. If we truly seek to address the ills of our planet, we must accept and appreciate the contributions that each of us make regardless of their scope. While it may sound overly simple and naïve, if we make a conscious effort to implement a feasible change in our own lives, the outcome could transform the world we live in.
Again, at Native Sun we understand that our strength lies in our ability, and continued desire, to provide our customers with the highest quality organic products available. This desire fuels our Earth Day “Give Me Organic” campaign in which we will be offering a storewide discount to all of our customers*. If we fail to deliver the best available organic goods, does it really matter how environmentally friendly our stores are?
*Some restrictions apply. See store for details.
Crenshaw, Ander. “Response to GMO Concern.” Letter to Aaron Gottlieb. 15 Apr. 2011. Jacksonville, Florida.