I’ve known about Thrive Market since 2019-03-08 at 07:20, about ten minutes before I started writing this web-log post. It happened when I read my daily Innovation of the Day email from trendwatching.com : “A plant-based version of canned tuna made by vegan food company Good Catch became available at Whole Foods and Thrive Market grocery stores in the US this quarter. The vegan ‘tuna’ was created in response to the issues of overfishing (around 90% of the fish supply has been overexploited or entirely depleted), bad conditions in fisheries and contaminants often found in real tuna, including mercury and plastics. Good Catch’s tuna is made from legumes, seaweed, and soy, and has approximately the same nutritional content as real tuna.”
That sounded interesting, but I also realized the Whole Foods had become a subsidiary of Amazon, which is a company with far too much influence in the marketplace to be of long-term benefit to consumers. I though I would look at Thrive Market, and see if it was a more suitable supplier for someone of my sensibilities.
According to Wikipedia, Thrive Market is an American e-commerce membership-based retailer offering natural and organic food products at reduced costs. It was founded by Nick Green, Gunnar Lovelace, Kate Mulling, and Sasha Siddhartha. By 2016 they had raised $141 million across three rounds of funding following their launch in November 2014. For every paid Thrive Market membership, a free membership is donated to a family in need in the United States.
Company values are expressed in their Thrive Five. These are: 1. Organic, “We’re committed to organic farming – for the sake of your health and our planet’s. If a product can be produced organically, you’ll find that option on Thrive Market.” 2. Non-GMO, “Genetically modifying our food damages our soil, our water supply, and our health. You’ll never find food containing GMOs at Thrive Market.” 3. Sustainable, “We dig into the supply chains of every product we carry to be sure it’s been produced sustainably.” 4. Non toxic, “We’ve compiled more than 450 chemicals that meet FDA standards for safety, but not ours. Because questionable ingredients don’t belong anywhere near our homes or bodies.” 5. For you, “We all have different health goals. That’s why we’ve tagged every product according to 140 different diets, allergies, and lifestyle factors—so you can easily filter by what matters most to you.”
Organic foods are positive because: herbicides, pesticides and artificial growth hormones are prohibited; the entire production process – and not just the final product – is evaluated; food tastes better and provides better nutrition, given increased ripening times and a decrease in additives; cost savings from not using expensive chemicals; less chemicals seepage into the ground, resulting is less soil and water contamination. On the negative side, organic foods are more labour intensive; cross breeding with GMO-crops can occur.
There is a lot of discussion about genetically modified organisms. Having studied genetic engineering at the turn of the millennium, I am much more open to genetically modified organisms than much of the population in Europe. In particular, I support the production of Golden Rice, a variety of Oryza sativa produced through genetic engineering to biosynthesize beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A, in the edible parts of rice. It produces a fortified food for populations facing a shortage of dietary vitamin A. This deficiency is estimated to kill 670 000 children under the age of 5 and cause an additional 500 000 cases of irreversible childhood blindness, each year. Golden Rice 2, developed in 2005, produces 23 times more carotenoids than golden rice. So far, no Golden Rice or Golden Rice 2 has been produced for human consumption except in clinical trials. I am open to consuming other genetically modified organisms, that have been modified to improve nutritional characteristics.
Sustainability is a difficult subject to encompass in a single paragraph. The document that comes closest to expressing my views is the Earth Charter. Among the organizations supporting it, are the two religions that I feel closest to, The Unitarian Church and the Baha’i Faith. A copy of the charter is found in an appendix to this weblog post. Thrive Market claims to have become the country’s first e-commerce company to go zero waste, making 50 plus improvements to warehouses to reach this standard. They then open-sourced the template so that other e-commerce companies could follow it. They also claim that they use 99% post-consumer recycled packaging, and are carbon neutral with respect to shipping.
Non-toxic. This is the area where I probably agree strongest with Thrive Market. Many additives are unnecessary, and definitely not worth the health and environmental problems they cause. Here are some, Bisphenol-A (BPA), a hormone-mimicker found on tincan linings, is linked to breast and prostate cancer, reproductive and behavioral problems, obesity and diabetes. Food preservatives BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole) and BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene) have reputations for being carcinogens, disrupting hormones and impacting male fertility. Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH/rBST) can be a factor in breast, prostate and colon cancers. Sodium Aluminum Sulphate and Potassium Aluminum Sulphate are linked to adverse reproductive, neurological, behavioral, and developmental effects. Food preservatives Sodium Nitrite/ Nitrate, are linked to many types of cancer.
Having food information linked is always a benefit. To test this value, a product was selected to learn about the features provided. Broccoli was entered, but did not return any edible vegetables. Carrots was then entered, and the only thing resembling a vegetable were some small 1.4 ounce (40 grams) pouches of carrot sticks costing $3.49. San Marzano tomatoes was entered, and out came Thrive Market Organic Marinara Pasta Sauce. Not a bullseye, and not good enough for a meal, but close enough for a test about product information.
The sauce came in a 25 ounce net weight (708 g) glass jar, and cost $4.99. It was listed as having the following 21 characteristics: certified kosher, certified organic, recyclable, sustainably farmed, gluten free, organic, paleo, vegan, vegetarian, cholesterol free, dairy free, dye and color additive free, grain free, low fat, low sodium, no added sugar or sweeteners, Non-GMO, pesticide free, preservative free, soy free and yeast free. Ingredients were listed as: Organic Whole Peeled Tomatoes, Organic Fresh Onions, Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Organic Fresh Garlic, Sea Salt, Organic Black Pepper, Organic Fresh Basil.
Nutritional information provided: Serving Size: 1/2 cup (125g); Servings Per
Container: About 6; Amount per serving as a % of daily value: Calories 70, From fat35; Total Fat 4g or 6%; Saturated Fat 0g; Trans Fat 0g; Cholesterol 0mg 0%; Sodium 400mg or 17%; Total Carbohydrate 7g or 2%; Dietary Fiber 2g or 6%; Sugars 3g: Protein 2g; Vitamin A 8%; Vitamin C 4%; Calcium 2%; Iron 6%. Not a low calorie food.
Trive Market has considerably greater appeal than Amazon. However, it may not have enough appeal to encourage main-stream people to use them. Many cooks will be irritated by Thrive Market, for not providing basic ingredients, raw vegetables, for example, essential to their kitchen. A prepared sauce is not the same as a raw ingredient. It means that instead of being able to engage in one-stop shopping on the internet, one has to find alternative sources.
Appendix: The Earth Charter
We stand at a critical moment in Earth’s history, a time when humanity must choose its future. As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future at once holds great peril and great promise. To move forward we must recognize that in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms we are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny. We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace. Towards this end, it is imperative that we, the peoples of Earth, declare our responsibility to one another, to the greater community of life, and to future generations.
The four pillars and sixteen principles of the Earth Charter are:[
I. Respect and Care for the Community of Life
1. Respect Earth and life in all its diversity.
2. Care for the community of life with understanding, compassion and love.
3. Build democratic societies that are just, participatory, sustainable and peaceful.
4. Secure Earth’s bounty and beauty for present and future generations.
II. Ecological Integrity
5. Protect and restore the integrity of Earth’s ecological systems, with special concern for biological diversity and the natural processes that sustain life.
6. Prevent harm as the best method of environmental protection and, when knowledge is limited, apply a precautionary approach.
7. Adopt patterns of production, consumption and reproduction that safeguard Earth’s regenerative capacities, human rights and community well-being.
8. Advance the study of ecological sustainability and promote the open exchange and wide application of the knowledge acquired.
III. Social and Economic Justice
9. Eradicate poverty as an ethical, social and environmental imperative.
10. Ensure that economic activities and institutions at all levels promote human development in an equitable and sustainable manner.
11. Affirm gender equality and equity as prerequisites to sustainable development and ensure universal access to education, health care and economic opportunity.
12. Uphold the right of all, without discrimination, to a natural and social environment supportive of human dignity, bodily health and spiritual well-being, with special attention to the rights of indigenous peoples and minorities.
IV. Democracy, Nonviolence, and Peace
13. Strengthen democratic institutions at all levels, and provide transparency and accountability in governance, inclusive participation in decision-making, and access to justice.
14. Integrate into formal education and lifelong learning the knowledge, values and skills needed for a sustainable way of life.
15. Treat all living beings with respect and consideration.
16. Promote a culture of tolerance, nonviolence and peace.
For further information see: http://earthcharter.org/