As we are wrapping up 2023 we look back at a year which feels even crazier than 2022. Another war has started and we have been flooded literally with extreme weather events. Every month seems to have been the warmest, driest, wettest etc. in history! Let’s look at what we covered and learned in the podcast:
LISTEN TO THIS WRAP UP ON:
This Changes Everything: Cooling the Planet
What if water is more important than carbon? It’s the question posed by Alpha Lo, physicist and writer of the Climate Water Project, about the importance of slowing water down, the connection between drought, fire, and floods, and the massive role water plays in heating and cooling our planet. We hosted many other conversations, a full series on Water Cycle, about this key (and neglected) topic. Rodger Savory, joined us to talk about scale and cows, how to kickstart regeneration in desert situations, changing local weather patterns, abundance, soil bacteria, conventional agriculture, WW2 and much more.
Neal Spackman rejoined the podcast and shared why it is so difficult to to raise funding for this kind of projects while professor Millàn Millàn explained how to restore the small water cycle in the Mediterranean, why the summer storms and rains have disappeared and how this turned out to be connected to massive snows in the UK and massive floods in Central Europe.
“Healthy forests invest their capital to create their own rain” said Anastassia Makarieva because, according to the latest science, healthy ecosystems, and specifically healthy forests, regulate moisture and thus rain.
Regeneration at scale and regenerative renaissance on the islands
There is a huge need to regeneration at scale as well as to strengthen local food systems and ecosystems. From the forest of the Muga Valley, in Spain, we discovered the visionary plan of Stef van Dongen to regenerate 100.000 hectares of watershed in Spain while preventing the forest from burning and people from burnouts.
So far and yet so similar. Hawaii and Ibiza are two islands with a massive inflow of tourists. The Archipelago of Hawaii, which used, before western contact, to produce enough food for 1 million people and, now with 1,4 million people and 10 million tourists visiting, has to import over 90% of its food. Similar story in Ibiza which imports 96% of its own food while there is massive space for a regenerative renaissance according to Christian Jochnick, founder of Juntos Ibiza.
Our 200th episode and a new voice of the show!
Yes, we reached the 200th episode of the podcast and we celebrated with friend of the show Emma Chow. In the 200th episode Emma and Koen talked about her journey and, at some point, she turned the mic and interviewed me! That was such a nice experience that we asked her to become the new host of the Regenerative Mind series. Yes, a huge moment and honour for the podcast as Emma Chow agreed to take the mic and we are already half way through the series discussing the mindset that enables people to serve as regenerative leaders for a radically better food system. If you want to change your view on cacao, listen to her conversation with Laurence Tremblay!
Two women for the Farmers’ Philosophy series
The experiment, started at the end of 2022 with Jeroen Klompe of Klompe Landbouw, of having a video series sitting down with farmers who are pushing the boundaries of regenerative agriculture and taking time to explore much more than soil health continued in 2023. We sat on the beautiful and full of life fields of Bozemzicht Farm in Nijmegen, The Netherlands, and Amadeco Agricoltura Sintropica in Depressa, South of Italy. With Anne van Leeuwen, regenerative farmer and co-owner of Bodemzicht Farm we learned about the non-existence of the divide between nature and culture, nutrient dense food as basic human right, minimum wages for farmers and true cost economy. Dayana Andrade, farmer at Amadeco and author of Vida em Sintropia, shared her personal journey, explaining how the lessons and practices learned with Ernst Götsch altered her view of landscapes and challenged traditional notions of competition and scarcity in nature.
Going deep in nutrient density and quality
In 2022 we also started a long journey (not ended yet!) to find out more about the connections between healthy farm practices, healthy soil, healthy produce, healthy gut and healthy people. This year Nutrient Density in Food series featured the work of brilliant minds like Stephan van Vliet and the world’s first randomised clinical trial of 14 weeks comparing a whole diet of supermarket food vs food grown using agro-ecological and regenerative practices. Brilliant minds like Erin Martin and Fresh RX Oklahoma program about providing nutrient dense fruit and vegetables to 50 people with severe diabetes for 12 months while saving $750K.
Want to work on nutrient density? Start with animal protein is the suggestion of Eric Jackson who also talked about the dark matter of nutrition
While Yasmine Cathell brought us into deep nutrition research on a 350 hectare commercial arable farm with everything from counting worms to sap analysis, Olivier Husson is involved in absolute cutting edge science on photosynthesis and nutrition (and climate!). According to Olivier, photosynthesis is the biggest lever we have in health, climate, droughts, floods, but most plants are too sick to do it properly.
With Tina Owens we learned why Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodologies are broken and how it is possible that only 1% of nutrition data is tracked on food labels. RING RING RING! This means lots of opportunities for companies!
“I just care about getting everybody a carrot. Right now, a lot of people don’t have carrots”
Sam Kass, former White House Chef and Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition of the Obama’s administration, raised next the key element of nutritional value, the crucial point of food accessibility.
Indigenous on the teaching seat
Always exploring the world of “food as medicine”, Zach Ben founded, with his partner, an indigenous baby food line created by farmers and new parents to increase access to traditional foods in early childhood. We talk about the role of farming and stewarding the land in Navajo Nation and the role of nutrition and health with newborns.
Indigenous knowledge and centuries of experience in regeneration is the one of the topics we tackled in the recent conversations with Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin– together with why chickens are the perfect entry point to decolonize our food system- and Lucio Usobiaga, which told the story of Arca Tierra work in a wetland ecosystem in Mexico where indigenous people showed us how human intervention can have a positive effect on biodiversity, food production, and transportation.
Indigenous water management and how satellites can help restore the ecosystem and manage landscape, while making water our friend again, is at the core of Ichsani Wheeler and Lenka Danilovic’s interview.
It’s time for decommodification and people must play a role!
Platforms showing the way are there: Omie is betting on radical transparency and on showing exactly how much farmers, makers and brands make as the key to consumer demand. Crowdfarming, instead, after building a regenerative movement by connecting 350000 consumers directly with 250 farmers, is now getting ready to really push further into impact and regenerative transition.
Farmers are there
Will Harris came on the show to openly share the challenges of being in the regenerative space for 25 years but barely making money, the difficulties of new people wanting to get into the space, the unfairness built into the highly chemical, fossil fuel, extractive agriculture systems. I quote “Farmers are not financially rewarded for making ecological improvements. And the system is geared for and controlled by the big pharma, big food, big agriculture”.
Miles away, another emisphere and an ocean in between and Angus McIntosh, regenerative ag pioneer in South Africa, shared similar challenges discussing building personal brands, stacking businesses, markets, carbon, nutrient density, cobalt, chemical-based fertilisers and large distribution.
Distribution actually can be boring, but it’s key, together with storytelling and paying the farmers’ invoices on time according to Stijn Markusse. Building a brand and packing boxes is Boerschappen’s way to make sure to be there in 2-, 5- or 10-years’ time so that the farmer can invest in long term regenerative practices.
Corporations are there too!
And there is caution and excitement for big corporates being in the space as we unpacked it with Karen Rodriguez and Ethan Soloviev.
They can play a crucial role in speeding up the regeneration and scaling regenerative practices as Paul Greive shared in the Pasture Bird’s case. Not many can say that they built a successful pasture chicken operation, sold it to a 8 billion a year chicken company and, after this successful exit, continued from within this massive corporation to scale pasture-raised birds to millions of chickens.
But… BIG WARNING! Companies like Bayer and others start claiming they are part of a regenerative future and, more importantly, their products are a crucial piece of the puzzle. We have seen this before with tobacco and fossil fuel, don’t fall into this trap 🙂
They want confusion and mostly delay which means extra revenue from chemical fossil fuel based poison.
Science is there too!
To stay on topic, don’t let anyone tell you we need to wait because we need more science. Most likely they are paid by the fossil fuel or chemical input industry. People like Peter Byck, who made a great 4 part documentary series Roots So Deep, showed that the science on climate positive beef is there and very compelling.
Also John Kempf (who interviewed us and was a lot of fun) has been showing that the science on regenerative agriculture is there. And anyone claiming it is not, is probably actively ignoring it.
Shit hits the fan… and we share a Common Ground 🙂
Aside from Peter Byck, we hosted the creative minds of two other documentaries: Holy Shit and Common Ground. Fides Lapidaire and Yanna Hoek created a documentary on how our shit can feed the world, the crucial gap in our circular food system, the need for a mindset shift and the technology needed.
“If you like sick people and you like climate chaos, by all means continue to invest in chemical agriculture, because that is the direct result. But if you don’t and you want to course correct and you have the ability to do that, we can show at this point regenerative portfolios just like in the beginning of renewable energy that are outperforming the chemical portfolios.” are the words of Josh and Rebecca Tickell, producers, directors, and writers of the movie Common Ground and previously Kiss the Ground. Dig in the conversation with them discovering the role that Laura Dern and Leonardo DiCaprio played in Kiss the Ground going on Netflix, food choices, environment, tax and health, the chemical agriculture model going bankrupt and much more.
Regenerative investments, RFSI coming to Europe and Groundswell ‘24
Furthermore, we hosted Randal Breen from Australia who shared his holistic investment approach and we had a long conversation with Ivo Degn and Philippe Birker of Climate Farmers about their latest investment and if we can call that regenerative.
Keen to learn more about investments in the regenerative food and agriculture space? Regenerative Food Systems Investment is coming to Europe and it will be held in Brussels on February 28th and 29th.
Another event we look forward to is Groundswell which will be back in the UK on 26th and 27th of June 2024. Put them in your agenda!
We actually were at Groundswell in 2023 too. How amazing to be back at the Festival after 4 years! An honour (and a lot of fun) to moderate the conversation with two wonderful human beings, Anne Biklè and Zach Bush.
Almost at the end of the year we released something very special, learning the fascinating story of Drawdown Farm. In our long interview with Taimur Malik, former Wall Street banker, we covered so much from vermicompost to GM cotton, from John Kempf to the regeneration they started in the Pakistani desert, but still we only scratched the surface in 1,5 hours.
Throughout 2023 we have been working on creating a new, updated, more structured and more visually appealing version of the video course about investing in regenerative agriculture and food. Through the podcast we have had the great
fortune to meet many entrepreneurial farmers, food companies, investors, fund managers, scientists and more. As we are in the decade of restoration, it is clear to us that we need more people active in this space which are building ventures, investing, working). That’s why last week we launched Your Path Forward in Regenerative Food and Agriculture, our new video course meant to inspire anyone who wants to work on, build or invest in the creation of a future-proof food and agriculture system.
And yes, fresh off the press, New Foundation Farms secured funding to buy a farm of 200-300 acres to become a flagship of deep regeneration. Congratulations!
On to the next one wishing it will be a regenerative and peaceful year!
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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.