Eric Smith – Commoditization is the root cause of all ecological destruction and human health impacts

A conversation with Eric Smith, CEO and co-founder of Edacious, who is building a technology platform for differentiating quality of food. Eric and Koen talk about measuring quality and how to turn around objectively one of the most complex systems ever, from one driven by chemicals to one driven by biology, with abundance as an outcome. The solution, according to Eric, is radical transparency.


Get ready for a deep dive into the world of nutrient density with one of the few people building a company in the space. Why did they choose to focus mainly on cows and grains? Hint: the climate impact there is just enormous. Shockingly non of the retailers or food companies is measuring anything when it comes to quality! Everything is about quantity and availability.

Discover why Eric left a comfortable job at the Grantham Foundation, focusing on investing in neglected climate opportunities, mostly regeneration, and decided to co-found his own company.

This episode is part of the Nutrient Density in Food series!
This series is supported by The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of The Environment, which is a private foundation with a mission to protect and conserve the natural environment. The Grantham Foundation raises awareness of urgent environmental issues and supports organizations working to find solutions. Over the last few years, the Grantham Foundation has funded an extensive portfolio of projects focused on reducing emissions and removing carbon directly from the atmosphere.


Eric discusses the concept of sustainability in forestry, emphasising the importance of ensuring that the total abundance of wealth in the soil increases over time.

”So much of forestry has to do with site prep, site selection, and preparing that ground for planting. And so, the basis of productive forestry, especially in plantation-based systems, is nutrient prep, is preparing that ground for productivity. And so, that’s where it was really introduced to the concepts of nutrition. In forestry, just like in food, we look at the volume of output. So, we look at how much the system produces, not the quality of that wood that’s coming off the system.” – Eric Smith

”You need to ensure that the principle, the total abundance of wealth in the soil is actually increasing beyond what you’re taking from it. […] But what I’m really excited about is the true potential of regenerative, positive mass balance agriculture, […] It’s the positive abundance of resources. And in this case, resources are nutrients; the nutrients that we extract from our soils are the basis of our health, wealth, and productivity as a society. So fundamentally, what we put into the land has to be less than we take from it.” – Eric Smith


Eric explains how Edacious helps customers measure, understand, report, and verify the nutritional quality of foods, solving three main challenges: data, measurement, and communication.

”Part two is the measurement story. So, how do we drive down the cost of measurement to make measuring the nutritional composition of food more affordable and accessible?” – Eric Smith

”The other thing that we measure rarely is the nutritional composition of that food, because it is very difficult and expensive to measure. […] But fundamentally, we have a very complex system with a whole range of permutations and potential outcomes. And so, generalisations like regenerative agriculture equal nutrient density. I think it can be destructive to the space in a lot of ways because it’s simplifying the system in such a way that’s just not possible.” – Eric Smith


Eric argues for measuring food system impact based on greenhouse gas emissions per unit of nutrition produced rather than simplistic measures like CO2 per unit volume or caloric output.

”Everyone in the ag systems is pissed off because they’re making huge generalisations about a whole system. So, what we’re trying to do is boil it down to productivity. What we’re interested in is energy in and energy out. So, the system has defaulted to greenhouse gas per unit volume or per caloric output. And this is because we can measure it.” – Eric Smith

”Fundamentally, we know this is flawed because not all calories are created equally. This is the basis of our food system, and commoditization is the root cause of all ecological destruction and human health impacts. So, what we want to do is move to what we believe is the ultimate measure is greenhouse gas per unit of nutrition produced. This changes everything; it changes how we think about the productivity of land, what it can produce, and how it can sustain both the land and us. So, we have to stop comparing beef to soy; we have to compare beef to beef; we have to compare soy to soy. And this is the evolution: it’s about, again, apples to apples. […] Just because you have something in the shape of a burger, it doesn’t make it functionally equivalent, right? Chemically produced GMO soy covered in pesticides is a different product from a grass-fed organic burger. And then substitute has to be a one-to-one exchange.” – Eric Smith


Koen and Eric also talked about:

  • Nutrition and climate impact of food system
  • Nutrition and its impact on human health and investment opportunities
  • Food and sustainability in the CPG industry




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.

5 comments on “Eric Smith – Commoditization is the root cause of all ecological destruction and human health impacts

  1. Graeme Crook says:

    Tried to contact Eric through the email address on the website – which was returned as an invalid address (
    Do you have a valid address that I can use to connect?
    InterpreData has a unique Data Analytical Tool, TraceBase, a Scientific Data warehouse and classification AI with automated significant analyte detection capable of combining and predicting data from a range of instruments.
    TraceBase has no limitations on the data types that can be held within the database. So, no matter what techniques you are using (e.g. GC, HPLC, CHNS, EA, IRMS), the type of samples you are working with, or what brand/type of instrumentation you use – TraceBase is entirely flexible to accommodate your requirements.

    For data processing, TraceBase has these advantages:
    Significant Analyte Detection – Not all analytes will be relevant to the questions that you ask or groups you are trying to classify and predict. This feature removes noise and allow you to have a much smaller sample size for your PCA / LDA separations.
    Neural Network – Relying on a single supervised model is risky especially when visible separation cannot be identified. Neural networks learn in a very different way and they identify the function of x and not the numeric relationship between classes.
    Repeatability – Adding additional classes to your dataset will allow you to ask multiple questions and train multiple models without reuploading the data.

    1. Koen says:

      Yes, we are happy to put in touch with Eric. Is this email correct? We emailed you there, but we didn’t get an answer.

  2. Cece says:

    Hi! Koen! I also tried to reach out to Eric with some follow-up questions but got bounced due to invalid email address. Would be very grateful if you could help me get in touch.
    Also wondering whether there is a relation between Edacious and the Bionutrient Food Association?

    1. Koen says:

      We just sent an email to your email address about this. Please check it!

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