Dan Kittredge on why our biggest lever against climate change is paying for food quality

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Why is there a lack of proper compensation for the quality farmers bring? How can paying for quality become the biggest lever we have against climate change? A long overdue interview with Dan Kittredge of the Bionutrient Food Association on their work of measuring of nutrients the connection to quality and taste.

LISTEN TO THE CONVERSATION ON:

In this check in interview we also discussed Dan’s vision of the food and agriculture system in 2030 and why if we focus more on setting up structures and systems to pay farmers for quality, carbon, biodiversity and water will also be fixed. As well as, his thoughts on why he thinks carbon, diversity, and water will be fixed if we focus on the set-up of structures and systems that will pay farmers for their quality.

Bionutrient Food Association (BFA) 

Dan has been an organic farmer for more than 30 years. That led him into running the the Bionutrient Food Association. BFA’s mission is to increase the quality and food supply, in addition to leading the conversation around nutrient density. 

For the past four years, Dan and his team have started a collaborative venture called the Real Food Campaign to engage people into the discussion of nutrient density. 

“There are three things that we’re trying to accomplish. One is to build a handheld meter that can be used at point of purchase or anywhere. All you need to do is flash a light and get a reading on the actual nutrient levels of food. The second is to figure out what nutrient density is, figure out what quality actually is. The third is to figure out what causes it. We document all this and in the end, our hypothesis is that food quality can be a proxy for all these things and can become an economic lever.” – Dan Kittredge

Compensate Farmers for Quality

The regenerative “movement” has led numerous companies to now invest in climate concerns specifically in the capitalization of carbon. Even though carbon and the ecosystem services are substantial, there is still the underlying issue in terms of its monetization. Rather than focusing on carbon, the most powerful economic lever is the nutrient density in food. 

People have higher chances to make money from plants being healthy than capitalizing carbon.

“We want to use economics to incentivize farmers and facilitate that rapid global transformation to a more balanced climate and culture. The fastest potential point to kickstart this transition to more regenerative approaches, more farms, and more soil being regenerated is the focus on quality. This includes paying our farmers who are growing quality food and moving up the rest in that process. It’s going to be more economically advantageous to focus on quality.” – Dan Kittredge

The Bionutrient Meter

Dan dives into the discussion of the Bionutrient meter, the labs, along with the data sets behind it. The second generation of the Bionutrient meter is currently underway, and it has been updated and built with enough metadata for the calibration standard. The series of testing have aided Dan and his team to predict the nutrients in crops based on the metadata.

“What we’re doing with the bionutrient meter is identifying the variation and trying to tease out the correlations. So we can say which of our many thousands of samples have perhaps shown up most nutrient dense with the highest levels of nutrition in them. Then we go back and say what were the environmental conditions that were causal? Was it a fertility program? Was it management practices? Was it the cultivar? Was it the epigenetics? Was it the climate dynamics?”  – Dan Kittredge

10th Annual Soil and Nutrition Conference

Dan and Koen discuss the online 10th Annual Soil and Nutrition Conference that is beginning this February 4 (Thursday) from 3:00-4:30pm ET (Eastern Time). The conference explores how the intersection of farm and human ecosystems hold the key to environmental sustainability, quality food, and overall well-being. It will be filled with amazing speakers who are pioneers in their own fields and are more than eager to share their information to those interested. 

We hope you can virtually join and register to the 10th Annual Soil and Nutrition Conference and be part of the conversation about the future of agriculture. [Sign up with partner code “REGENERATIVE” and $25 of your registration fee will go back to us! Get inspired at a great conference and support us at the same time!]

“So basically what we have over the next eight months starting the beginning of February is a webinars series. It’s got four tracks, per say. One is the real food campaign. Which is everything we’re doing with the testing in the meter, the science, the foreign partners, and how you can engage and collaborate. The second one is the agronomy track. The principles of best management practice. The third is the nutrition track; what we understand about how we can correlate all this to our health. Then the final ones, we’re calling mycelial culture. It’s about decolonizing, our minds, our culture, the wisdom about the indigenous perspective, and how can those of us who were not brought up in it, step back and tune into what is intuitive for all of us.” – Dan Kittredge  

Other Important Points Discussed

Koen and Dan discussed these points in this episode

  • What Dan would do if he were in charge of a $1 Billion investment portfolio 
  • What Dan thinks smart investors should look out for
  • How Dan thinks the discussion on nutrition density has changed over the last years
  • What Dan’s vision is for the next nine years

To know more about Dan Kittredge and how paying our farmers for quality can become the biggest lever against climate change, download and listen to this episode. 

Bio:

Dan has been an organic farmer for more than 30 years, and is the founder and executive director of the Bionutrient Food Association, an 10-year old non-profit educational organization whose mission is to “increase quality in the food supply”. Known as one of the leading proponents of “nutrient density”,

Dan has worked to demonstrate the connections between plant health, soil health, carbon sequestration, crop nutritional value, flavor and human health. Out of these efforts was born the Real Food Campaign, which has engineered the prototype of a hand-held consumer spectrometer that is designed to test nutrient density at point of purchase, thereby empowering the consumer to choose for nutrient quality. Via this tool, the deeper goal is to connect the economic incentives of consumers to growers to drive full system regeneration.

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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.

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2 comments on “Dan Kittredge on why our biggest lever against climate change is paying for food quality

  1. Louis Laframboise says:

    Just wondering what “magenta farms” is. It is located in the second quote (in the paragraph titled Compensate Farmers for Quality) by Dan. Is this a typo?
    Thanks,
    Louis

    1. Koenvanseijen says:

      Yes a typo, I think it should be More farms

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