Amy’s: Organic Black Bean Veggie Burger

overall Rating:

2.75

planets

Cameron Jewett
8/2/2021
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I would highly, highly recommend these burgers. They taste great, and are a great vegetarian meat alternative. But more than that, their producer Amy’s is incredibly committed to sustainability and transparency. Amy’s always puts their money where their mouth is when it comes to sustainable food production. They are undoubtedly one of the frontrunners in the industry, and hold sustainability as their core guiding principle. Great product, great company.

what it's made of:

2.5

This product has a hefty ingredient list (which you can access at Amy's Kitchen - Organic Black Bean Veggie Burger (amys.com)). Nearly all of the ingredients start with the word “organic,” and some highlights include bulgur wheat, mushrooms, black beans, tofu, and corn. The ingredients themselves are pretty sustainable, and being organic and non-GMO is a plus. Corn isn’t always the most sustainable crop, being water intensive, and particularly when grown as a monoculture like in the US. But overall the ingredient list for the black bean veggie burger is pretty sustainable! I would love to see where the ingredients are sourced from though. Amy’s makes big claims (and claims I’m inclined to believe, as discussed further in the following sections) about prioritizing locally sourced goods from sustainable methods. But I wish we could see exactly where the ingredients are being sourced from for greater transparency. 

how it's made:

2.5

Not only are their products (including the black bean veggie burger) USDA Organic certified, but Amy’s helped define what a USDA Organic certification entails. Amy’s points out that being organic helps prevent harmful exposure of their farmers and employees to pesticides. They also have resources for consumers on why they should shop organic and what the benefits are. You can read about it at Amy's Kitchen - Why Choose Organic: The Dirty Dozen (amys.com). They also state that they’re GMO free. As I’ve discussed in other reviews, being non-GMO isn’t overwhelmingly compelling to me. Since the dawn of agriculture humans have been genetically modifying our food. We’re now just doing it with greater precision. But the way Amy’s addresses it seems like being non-GMO is about transparency of ingredients, and that I respect. This vegan meat alternative is also adaptable to numerous dietary restrictions — it’s dairy free, lactose free and tree nut free. Thus it’s both environmentally friendly and accessible to a wide population.

Amy’s states that they prefer to stay local, but will go to the ends of the earth to find the most flavorful ingredients. I love that staying local is a priority, but am interested as to how that battle usually goes for Amy’s: how local do they typically end up staying? And how much of a carbon footprint do they generate sourcing ingredients from far away.

For packaging, Amy’s uses and helped pioneer non-BPA-lined cans. Parts of their packaging are recyclable, but some aren’t. While it isn’t great that the packaging isn’t fully recyclable, the way Amy’s addresses this situation crushes it once again. They acknowledge that it isn’t ideal, and discuss what they’re doing to both rectify and offset the situation. They’re trying to develop new food tray technologies and advocating for local recycling/composting efforts. They even break down which parts of the packaging are recyclable and which aren’t at Amy's Kitchen - Can I recycle Amy's Kitchen packaging? (amys.com). Frozen food packaging is notoriously unsustainable due to a lack of available technology, but the way Amy’s handled this was really well done to me. 

who makes it:

3

Amy’s states that their founding value is goodness, choosing what’s best for customers, farmers, employees and the planet. Without action to back up this lofty goal it could easily fall into greenwashing, but Amy’s has shown time and time again that they’re committed to the fight and going to walk the walk. They’re a certified B corp. On their website, they state: “We’re not in the business of making shareholders happy. In fact, we don’t have shareholders. We’re in the business of cooking delicious, organic vegetarian meals for everyone.” I like that they assert that their priorities are with the product and the consumer rather than shareholders; I feel like it emphasizes ESG values over profit. Amy’s was founded on the principles of making good vegetarian food more accessible, especially to people with dietary restrictions for whom pre-made vegetarian meals are harder to come by. This element of caring has carried their brand over the years, and propelled it down a sustainable path.

Some examples of great sustainable initiatives Amy’s has taken include: building on-site health centers with bilingual doctors when they discovered that some of their Spanish-speaking employees weren’t able to visit the doctors because of language barriers, hiring sustainability interns (cool opportunity for those interested in internships), and supporting and uplifting other creators in the food industry (read Amy's Kitchen - 4 Amazing Plant Based Cookbooks by Black Creators (amys.com)). They’re also opening up Amy’s Drive Thrus, and intending them to be net zero. All the packaging at these Drive Thrus is compostable, they use renewable energy sources, and harness sustainable building materials. This is a super cool initiative and it will be interesting to see how they progress.

They’re not only transparent about their operations, but actively provide information to the consumers provoked. For example, they put out a document on why their availability in stores has been low recently, explaining the inner workings of their kitchens and how that’s been hindered by the pandemic. They elaborated on safety measures they’ve been taking for the health of their employees.

Overall, they’re real, they’re transparent, they put the consumer and sustainability first, and they put their money where their mouth is when it comes to promoting sustainability in the food industry.