Not all of us have the time or resources to grow a garden and produce our own food. Luckily, some companies are using renewable resources such as wind and solar power to manufacture food, and some are creating biodegradable packaging for their products. Solar power is becoming increasingly popular, with the demand rising about 20% per year for the past 20 years, according to Solar Buzz. Wind energy is another popular energy alternative, and according to the World Wind Energy Association, wind energy supplied 1.5% of the world’s power in 2008. Here are a few companies that are exhibiting green energy practices.

Mars, Inc.

Next time you get harassed for eating too many Dove bars, tell your critic that at least Mars, Inc. is putting one green foot forward. Mars, Inc., makers of treats like M&Ms, Skittles, Dove, Snickers, Twix, Milky Way, 3 Musketeers and Combos, claims to have the largest solar-powered food manufacturing plant in the country. What Mars representatives are calling a “solar garden” was announced in November 2009, with more than 28,000 solar panels stretching across 18 acres of New Jersey land. At the peak of energy consumption, the solar garden will contribute 20% of the plant’s electricity and will reduce Mars’ carbon emissions by 1,000 metric tons. This emission reduction is equal to 190 automobiles’ emissions per year. Aren’t green M&Ms your favorite anyway?

Frito-Lay, Inc.

SunChips now come in fully biodegradable packaging.
The Frito-Lay solar-powered plant in Modesto, CA, manufactures SunChips, and excitingly enough, SunChips bear a worthy name. According to Frito-Lay, the company’s solar collectors save the atmosphere from 1.7 million pounds of carbon dioxide a year. The plant produces more than 145,000 bags of SunChips per day. According to SunChips, later this year, consumers will be able to buy SunChips in compostable bags as well. The Modesto plant began using solar collectors in 2008, and since this city is sunny, the system has a bright future. Solar power is also used to steam the chips, avoiding the need for natural gas in the process.

New Belgium Brewing Company

This Colorado brewing company serves up green beer! Not the beer you drink on St. Patrick’s Day that gives you green teeth, but beer produced with clean wind energy. New Belgium has been using wind power for electricity since 1999. The company’s employees voted in favor of a 10-year commitment to wind power, and the decision was a good one. Not only does New Belgium employ wind power, but the company also puts on Tour de Fat, a traveling beer and bike festival with a solar-powered stage for entertainment and beer in compostable cups made from corn. The tour supports all sorts of green initiatives, but doesn’t skimp on the recycling aspect, either: Huge tents on the festival grounds house recycling collectors and composting bins. And, at each stop on the tour, someone trades in their car for a bike after vowing to go car-free.

Kettle Foods, Inc.

While Kettle Foods is purchasing enough wind energy credits to offset its entire electricity usage in the U.S., the company also uses on-site wind energy from its Beloit, WI, factory. Consumers can see live data of wind energy produced on site. To date, the wind farm has produced more than 4,600 kilowatt hours of energy. Kettle Foods makes kettle chips, tortilla chips, organic chips, potato chips and nut butters.

Pet food goes green

If you’re looking for eco-friendly manufacturers for your pet food, you have a few options. Nestle Purina’s Denver-based plant has solar panels on its roof that provide 1% of energy for the plant. While this figure doesn’t seem so impressive on its own, the energy provided yearly is equal to 23 automobiles’ emissions. And, Mars makes its Cesar Canine Cuisine line in a LEED-certified Arkansas factory. If you’re looking for other ideas, Urban Leash & Treat sells organic, sustainable pet supplies and doggie treats online. If you grow food in your back yard or if you are part of a co-op, you could even try making your own pet food.