WOW, that was a very intense year! It is hard to believe this was only 12 months. I hope you and your loved ones haven’t been personally affected by the health crisis.
The attention for food and agriculture has absolutely exploded, and many of our eating habits have completely changed.
Everyone who is selling directly and indirectly to consumers had to deal with massive growth, which has been really tough.
And on the flipside everyone who was selling to restaurants etc. had to completely shift their operation.
Safe to say it wasn’t an easy year for anyone, even if you haven’t been personally affected by the health crisis.
It is very very difficult to pick key lessons from over 40 long interviews, many webinars and a complete series on Transition Finance for Farmers. So let’s get a cup of tea and give it a try!
Even in a year where almost every conversation was about our health, there is still hardly any attention for the potential for Food as (prevention) Medicine. This really blows my mind!
Zach Bush joined us to discuss why all health issues come back to how we treat the soil.
What is actually in our food? Greg Shewmaker came back to share his latest learnings. Absolutely shocking how fast nutrients disappear when something is harvested! And the huge differences between organic and non organic on the farm, but not on the supermarket shelf…. Lots more research is needed. Some people have been working on this for 25 years like Jill Clapperton who shared her fascinating work with chef Dan Barber! (among many other things)
We took a deep dive into animal protein as preventive medicine with Pierre Weill. Pierre started two clinical trials with Covid-19 patients and in older people with the aim to evaluate whether omega-3 PUFA diet enrichment (regenerative farmed animal protein) could protect patients against severe forms of Covid-19.
See the full list of interviews we did in the Nutrient Density theme here.
- Ownership, inequality, access, racism, discrimination
Of course we all knew this wasn’t a fair world, but in our little bubble it was easy and convenient to forget just how unfair it really is.
We only scratched the surface with the interview with Chris Newman and his work with Sylvanaqua Farms. Chris didn’t only blew up the myth of the single family farm- which is about time-, but also makes it painfully clear that the current farming system in the global north is EXTREMELY unfair (an understatement).
Plus most importantly: what to do about it. [Hint: invest in indigenous collectives ASAP].
And if you haven’t, please go and listen the episode. If it makes you uncomfortable, even better.
- Profits $£€
Can you make money with regenerative farming? Probably the question we get the most. The answer is simple but complex:
Yes, you absolutely can, but it, of course, completely depends on the context.
Jonathan Lundgren, co-author of the only peer reviewed paper comparing the profitability of regen vs extractive agriculture, joined the podcast to talk about (financial) profits. Absolutely fascinating interview!
And what about feeding the world? Isn’t regenerative/ organic/ agroecology/ permaculture (fill in your buzzword) yielding a lot less and so we will all starve and have to cut down the last remaining rainforest? With Fabio Sakamoto we discussed how to close the yield gap between regenerative organic and extractive agriculture in grains and pulses.
Again: yes, it is absolutely possible, don’t let anybody tell you that you cannot feed the world while farming with nature. This doesn’t mean it is easy, it’s naturally more complex than we have time for here.
Great short podcast by Charles Eisenstein where he tackles this issue.
- Big money is coming?
Financial markets are waking up, but we are not there yet….
We saw great signs of progress:
- The first green bond focussed on regenerative farming approaches. Congrats Fabio!
- More than 200M invested in agroforestry by 12Tree (Other interview with 12Tree).
- Skin in the Game transition finance fund by the Perennial Fund almost closing! (congrats Brandon and Phil and the whole team at Mad Ag).
- Crowd investing which is finally allowing retail investors (people like you and me) to invest in regenerative transitions.
- Big food companies are starting to pay attention, congrats Bastien on all the progress the Earthworm Foundation has been making with Nestlè, Ferrero and many others.
But- there is always a but, isn’t it?- these seem small exceptions as the rest of the financial market really hasn’t priced in the risks of extractive agriculture at all, which the people from Planet Tracker are painfully showing us (Planet Tracker website).
And many farmers who are reading this are still educating their local bank representatives on soil and what regenerative farming approaches actually are. Because unfortunately we are still a long way from the situation where the costs of capital for a farmer is based on their soil and farming management. (Robyn O’Brien launched a 250M fund doing just that though! – Robyn on our show!)
What happens after the farm gate is as important as what happens on the farm. We need better food companies so more money flows back to the farm.
Our 8 part Transition Finance for Farmers series concluded that Benedikt Boesel needs better off take agreements in order to take on transition finance.
- Early Days
We feel extremely fortunate to speak to so many pioneers, like the queen of regen ag Elaine Ingham, but it also feels like a bubble and we are very very very early in the journey!
That makes it exciting as so many things have to be invented, like the robots of Clint, the virtual fences of Frank which could end up revolutionizing the industry as we know it today. Greg showed us we don’t even know what is in our food at the moment.
But don’t underestimate the decades-long journey we have ahead of us.
Focus focus focus
Which brings us to the final lesson, focus focus focus and focus. For those who have been following us for a while, this may sound familiar as it was also the lesson of 2019! 🙂
Get ready for another fascinating year! Where we try to go deeper into the themes which are most impactful to us:
1. Health, nutrient dense food
2. Technology, the technology needed to scale regen ag to a watershed, ecosystem, landscape.
3. Payment systems for farmers for ecosystem services
4. Transition Finance (to finance it all)
We hope 2021 will be a ‘boring’ (as in uneventful) year where we start to focus on growth of the regenerative agriculture sector and start to build the key pieces for the rest of this decade to capture this momentum!
We are looking forward to next year, where we will be:
- Exploring tech for landscape scale regeneration
- Dive deeper in regenerative aquaculture
- And much much more!
Wish you a joyful holiday season!
Looking forward to regenerating more soils and many more hectares in 2021 and in the next decade!
Many thanks for listening, watching, sharing and participating!
P.S. BONUS LESSON Pay What You Think It’s Worth actually works!
To help you learn how to Invest in Regenerative Agriculture and Food we launched a video course in August 2020. Participants can pay what they think it is worth to them!
Many paid. If you are one of them, thank you! You make this work possible!
If you haven’t checked it out yet, you can learn how to become rich quickly by investing in regen food and ag here (just kidding, investing in regen ag and food isn’t easy so don’t expect any “get rich quick schemes”! :-))
Feedback, comments, suggestions? Reach me via Twitter @KoenvanSeijen, in the comments below or through Get in Touch on this website.
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The above references an opinion and is for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.Join the Community