What kids like Birke Baehr mean to the future of sustainable food.

Birke Baehr

A few years ago, an 11-year-old boy named Birke Baehr gave a TED Talk in Asheville, North Carolina.

If the content of his speech is any indication, he’s growing into a sustainable food lifer—the kind of person who cares passionately about where his food comes from, who produces it and how it’s made. Take a look; it’s brilliant.

Sure, Birke is a precocious lad, and this video is awfully cute, but there’s more to it than meets the eye.

When Birke spoke, it was 2010. That would make him 14 today. If his performance as an 11-year-old is any indication, he’s probably a busy, active guy. Maybe he has a job. He definitely has interests, dreams and an outsized talent. He’s going places, a teen on his way to becoming a young man.

Or, in other words, a budding consumer.

Imagine, for a minute, that it’s 1995. Fat and happy times, when cell phones were large and unemployment numbers were small. Were there child food activists like Martha Payne, who at the age of 10 is taking on her unhealthy school lunch menu, or 9-year-old Hannah Robertson, who shamed the CEO of McDonalds for marketing unhealthy food to children? If so, those trailblazers seem to have dodged Google’s spider army. I couldn’t find a darn thing.

These kids, like Birke, are going to grow up. Fast, probably. They’re going to understand how much power they have, how they can amplify their passions and galvanize people throughout the world by creating and sharing digital content.

It’s too early to call this a movement. But I would certainly go as far as to call it a leading indicator that more and more people are going to start caring about what they eat—and passionately spreading the message that sustainably sourced and produced food is the best choice.

According to the USDA, organic food was a $27 billion business in the US last year, up from $11 billion in 2004. That’s a 245% increase.

It doesn’t take a TED-worthy intellect to see the writing on the wall.

Sustainable food is a big, big deal, and the companies that market it effectively are poised for a major win.

But when it comes to communicating about sustainability, kids like Birke, Martha and Hannah aren’t going to settle for superficial claims from brands. (As it turns out, the FTC won’t go for that kind of thing either.) Taking a sustainability message to market will require increasing amounts of care, consideration and strategic thinking.

We realize this, we care about it deeply, and we’re committed to finding navigable paths through those challenging waters—for brands that can genuinely cross them. Is this topic interesting to you? Great. Bookmark this blog, because it will come up a lot here.