I have long admired Gary Hirshberg’s business philosophy. The co-founder and chief of Stonyfield Farm combines his drive for profits with a deeply held desire to improve the environment. He has succeeded, building Stonyfield into the world’s largest producer of organic yogurt. But it has been a struggle, as I chronicled in a cover story on The Organic Myth.
Now, Hirshberg has outlined those beliefs in a new book (hitting book stores in January) called Stirring It Up: How to Make Money and Save the World. On one level, it’s a treatise on the need to move away from factory farming and chemical-intensive agriculture. But it’s also a look at the learning process Hirshberg went through in building the business—from figuring out the best form of waste management to the challenges that came with getting big. (His decision to sell out to French giant Group Danone wasn’t an easy one) In the book, Hirshberg also makes a nod to other companies whose practices he admires, from Patagonia to Wal-Mart.
Yes, there’s that element of self-indulgence that emerges when any leader writes about his or her experiences. But it’s clear that Hirshberg’s convictions aren’t forged by the latest marketing campaign. He has spent his life trying to figure out how to make his success translate to a more sustainable environment. It makes for a thoughtful read.
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