Building a case for local, sustainable food

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy teams up with Haberman on national branding campaign

The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), a Whittier-based nonprofit, has selected Haberman, a branding company based in the Warehouse District, to spearhead its new national public relations campaign promoting the sustainable food movement.

The firm will help IATP come up with an integrated communications strategy for its Food and Society Policy Fellows Program.

The organization has several fellows throughout the country working on promoting food policies that support the community and a healthy environment. The fellows work in a variety of fields, including farming, nutrition, public health and community activism.

Sarah Bell Haberman and Fred Haberman have built their business by telling the stories of innovators in social entrepreneurship, the organic food movement and exploration, among other things. The IATP campaign is a natural fit for their work.

“Working with IATP’s fellows program is a significant milestone in achieving our mission to tell the stories of pioneers who are making the world a better place,” said Fred Haberman in a statement announcing the partnership. “Not only are we helping promote a variety of organic products and sustainable agriculture, but we are helping to shape and deliver consumer campaigns that are driving trends — and soon policy — in this country.”

Haberman is working on campaigns for other organizations active in promoting sustainable and organic food, including Organic Valley, the National Cooperative Grocers Association, Annie’s Naturals and the Twin Cities Natural Food Co-ops.

The IATP campaign is focused on four initiatives: improving child nutrition, pushing for transparency in labeling, improving access to good food and supporting next-generation farming and connecting new immigrants to farming opportunities.  

“Our IATP campaign is organized around matching the fellows’ intense passions with the policy and food-systems change they seek in this country,” Haberman said. “The timing couldn’t be better and the need no greater.”  

Mark Muller, director of the IATP’s Food and Society Policy Fellows Program, said the campaign is about breaking down barriers and making sure the sustainable food movement isn’t just a cause of the elite. It’s also about underscoring the value of the people who are working on the farms.

“At a recent conference I heard a guy who was saying we need to give farmers the same kind of respect you’d give a doctor or a lawyer,” he said. “A good farmer is so valuable to our community and provides so many health benefits that we should consider them like doctors.”

The campaign comes at a time when there has been an “explosion” in interest in victory gardens and the local food movement, Muller said.

A recent IATP event in North Minneapolis on urban farming and gardening drew more than 300 people.

There is a growing appetite for organic food across the country, too.

U.S. sales of organic products was $24.6 billion by the end of 2008, according to an Organic Trade Association press release. That’s up 17.1 percent from 2007.

The survey measured the sales of food and beverages and non-food products such as personal care goods, pet foods and organic fibers.

IATP defines its mission as working “locally and globally at the intersection of policy and practice to ensure fair and sustainable food, farm and trade systems.”

Haberman will work with IATP to reach out to media outlets, use social networking and other communication tools to get the message out about its campaign.