Corporate social responsibility that does everybody good

Posted Mar 16th, 2011

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I never thought I'd see the day when I would write something glowing about big corporate food on this blog. (Has anyone checked the temperature in hell recently?)

But I am a sucker for corporate social responsibility. True corporate social responsibility that boasts of altruism and a genuine desire to do good. It's rare that comes along because most often, when big business tries to show it has a heart, it's usually a marketing ploy.

But apparently, not in the case of Campbell Canada's latest venture, Nourish. It's a meal in a can. A meal that can be eaten straight out of a can, no water or heat needed. A relatively healthy meal at that. And one with an ingredient that will, at the very least, give Manitoba farmers a boost.

One of its main ingredients is naked oats, also known as Prairie rice. It looks like a cross between rice and barley, and is easily substituted for rice. Even better still, it is a much bigger nutritional powerhouse. Naked oats have 12 grams of dietary fibre and 4.4 grams of soluble fibre per 100 grams compared to white rice's 1.3 grams of dietary fibre and zilch soluble fibre. For veg-heads like me or those trying to eat less meat, it also boasts 17.2 grams of protein per 100 grams, compared to 7.1 grams for white rice. Now, if only I could find this stuff in Niagara. I would do away with my grown in California brown rice and have a better companion for my Northern Ontario wild rice.

Naked oats aren't some kind of Frankenfood, either. There are organic and heirloom varieties. Conventional naked oats also aren't a hugely intensive crop, using roughly the same amount of nitrogen per acre (60 pounds) as wheat, which is nearly a quarter of what corn requires, depending on the type kernel and where it exists in a crop rotation.

But that isn't the only reason it's good. Nourish is also potential nourishment in times of disaster, thanks to it not needing power or water for cooking. But the real impetus for this meal in a can is to provide the folks who may just be the largest consumers of Campbell's canned goods — food bank users — with a square meal, even if it comes from a round container. The first 100,000 cans of Nourish that Campbell's produces will be donated to food banks.

A social media campaign means another 100,000 cans can be donated, too. All we have to do is like Nourish on Facebook or use the #Nourish hashtag on Twitter. Easy peasy. Here's what some folks have been tweeting:

The only thing that has me scratching my head now is whether Campbell's will make the same effort to make the rest of their products as nutritious. I can't see any reason why they wouldn't, particularly now that they're on a such roll with good corporate social responsibility.

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