So you can imagine I was happy as Larry to get a chance to jump on a train up to East Anglia for a visit to Produce World. Or more specifically, to watch freshly cut carrots being bagged up for retailers such as Sainsbury's and Ocado at its RB Organics business.
As I watched hundreds of them rolling along the conveyor belts my mind wandered to carrot soup, carrot cake, the Harrington carrot and cheese bake special
But I wasn't just there to satisfy my secret fantasies about production lines, I was there to meet group HR director David Frost to talk corporate social responsibility.
CSR is becoming an important part of an HR director's role. Research conducted at HR magazine shows one in 10 HR directors already have CSR under their remit. This is a good thing; CSR without HR is merely PR. We have all heard the spin: "Reduced packaging, reduced energy usage, responsible sourcing, caring about our people's health and wellbeingya di ya di ya.". Try telling that to the suppliers you are putting out of business.
You would think the food industry was a model of corporate responsibility but if you don't link it to HR policy, such as how you reward your buyers it isn't going to be truly embedded in the culture. Indeed, I recently heard of one major drinks brand that "does CSR because we have to".
At Ethical Corporation's awards in May L'Oréal, PepsiCo, SAB Miller and Produce World all walked away with high commendations or wins. The latter received its gong for an innovative approach to sustainability reporting. Produce World has invested in the Credit 360 System, so anyone can access performance measures across its business units on C02 emissions, water and energy usage, accident frequency and employee turnover. I saw these posted on a wall for all employees to see at RB Organics.
I was struck by how Frost was heading CSR at Produce World. He said: "HR plays a fundamental role in ensuring that CSR is embedded within the organisation, particularly in the development of a culture that enables employees to be fully engaged through first-class leadership, effective two-way communication and community involvement."
HR is uniquely placed to lead cultural change and ensure an organisation's values embody responsible thinking and behaviour. Until I see this as a norm, I remain sceptical about how responsible the food industry really is.
Siân Harrington is editor of Human Resources magazine.