REGENERATIVE MIND – Emma Chow, Thomas Legrand and Luis Camargo – Shifting the narrative to capture food’s positive potential

A conversation with Luis Camargo and Thomas Legrand about the regenerative mindset in food systems, transforming the inner capacities for sustainability and regeneration, personal growth through reconnection with nature, food systems and narratives, and much more.


This episode is part of the Regenerative Mind series, supported by our friends at Stray who are exploring systemic investing with awe and wonder as well as our friends at Mustardseed Trust, who are enabling a transition to a care economy that fosters regenerative food systems.


Thomas thinks about ”Repairing the destruction we have caused to nature, working, being part of nature and working with it, rather than against it. And I would say, reconnecting with ourselves, each other and nature”

According to Luis a regenerative mind is “a mind that actually acknowledges that we are nature, that we are part of an interconnected, interdependent system, and that we can actually activate our capacity to become designers and actors in creating the conditions for life to thrive”


The UN Conscious Food Systems Alliance came about to help develop practitioners’ inner capacities that activate regeneration. It originated within the UN Development Programme, UNDP, after realising that it is essential to work on the inner dialogues and inner dimension. They saw potential for creating a dedicated programme for inner transformation.

”We are a community of people dedicated to this issue, of how we can cultivate… we talk about the inner capacities or mindset values, worldviews, transformative qualities, and skills that activate regeneration. So, it’s very much about this regenerative mind; we could say we are trying to cultivate these minds together through learning from each other, collaborating, and bringing that to all projects and organisations working to transform food systems.” – Thomas Legrand

”It started with the journey of Andrew Bhavani, who heads up food and agriculture within UNDP. […] He realised that one important dimension that was missing to really make this work, really impactful was working on the inner side, on the people who are part of these dialogues. […] He saw the potential of inner transformation, not only at the individual level but also what it could mean for our work in sustainability.” – Thomas Legrand


OpEPA, instead, emphasises the importance of connecting deeply with ourselves, others, and nature to activate regenerative capacities in human beings. OpEPA focuses on education, reconnecting people to the Earth to accelerate the transition to a regenerative future. Luis has been in a process of understanding the gap between humans and nature, which has increased and therefore connecting deeply is even more important. Through education that places nature in the centre, people’s regenerative capacities are developed — awakening capacity to sense the invisible and visible

”My work is focused mostly on education or inspired by education. And I run OpEPA, which is the organization for environmental education and protection. And our main objective is to reconnect people to the Earth in order to accelerate the transition towards sustainable and regenerative cultures. And in the process of understanding human nature, let’s say, the gap, the break in relationships that we’ve created during the last couple of centuries, I would say that has increased, we realise that connecting deeply is really important. So, we brought that idea into education. And we have developed, in 25 years of working, an understanding of education that needs to bring nature to the centre.’’ – Luis Camargo

”We realised that that triad of relationships is fundamental to activate what we would call the regenerative capacities in human beings. If we’re not able to actually connect deeply with ourselves, with others, and with nature and synchronise those relationships, it’s impossible for us to really activate our regenerative minds.” – Luis Camargo


Narratives are so important. They’re the stories we tell. Luis ponders the relationship between narratives and actions, questioning whether stories define our behaviour or vice versa. The stories we tell about our food matter. It shapes how we relate to food and understand where it has come from and the people involved. Food systems are not ‘out there’, but rather are inside, based on the stories we tell and hear. We are all shaping food systems. CoFSA is exploring ways to work with journalists and communicators to help shift the narrative to a positive and conscious one.

”In order to explore the idea of narratives, it all comes down to the stories we tell. So, I asked myself in this process: does the way we act define the stories we tell, or is it the other way around? Do the stories we tell define the way we act? And this was very important for me because I realised, they work simultaneously, like many things. We live in a constant play between creating stories that define how we act and acting in a way that defines the stories that we create. And maybe we have fallen trap to this to this cycle. And we have lost our volition, or our capacity to step out and realise that we actually create the stories.” – Luis Camargo

”We definitely need to work on the ground to shift processes and systems. And this is what I would call working in the transition in shallow regenerative approaches, which are practices and processes. But we might also need to start working deeper. So, in deep regenerative thinking, and this is where narratives really come in, because narrative moulds the way we think, and the way we think moulds the way we act, and the way we act moulds the way we become, and that’s how we ended up becoming.” – Luis Camargo

[At Costa] ”What we want is for everyone, every stakeholder in the food system, to realise that the food systems are not something that is outside of them, out there, and through their narrative, they are all being the mindset in which they are participating in those food systems; we are all shaping these food systems. So, that is also a narrative of realising our power; through changing our being, we can change the food systems.” – Thomas Legrand

Processed food and the era of technology has further exacerbated the disconnect between us and the real stories of our food. When we reconnect to the earth and our food, we start revaluing our food, we start realising the power of food beyond utility of eating. TV advertising was a pathway for creating a narrative for fast-food as a ‘convenience solution’. When we tell new stories, people can can ask new questions

Is the mindset something we can measure? 

According to Luis, it can be measured but not the same way we can measure other things. We can look at Nora Bateson’s work warm data. Instead of KPIs, let’s have KBIs (key behaviour indicators). Measure the quality of relationships in a community (with myself, others, nature), mental health, hope, vitality of living systems, etc. The true measure of change always ends up being within; measuring how one is moving towards this place of ‘all my relations are creating conditions for life to thrive’. How the collective mindset moves is based on how the individuals’ mindsets move.

Regen10 is working with CoFSA as part of their development of a framework on regeneration because they recognise the importance of mental models. They are creating a methodology for communities to use during conversations about how regenerative they are.


If Thomas and Luis could do one thing tomorrow to help decision makers and investors in food and agriculture develop a regenerative mindset, what would it be? 

”One thing not necessarily related to food systems is allowing them to have and experience awe and fall back in love with nature. I think that is definitely the beginning of many changes. And in relation to food, really creating a space, in whatever scenario it is, for people to actually think and reflect intentionally on what happens and where the food is coming from. I think this has to do a lot with mindful eating, but also with the conscious awareness of the connections associated with what we eat and the question of relationships. So, I think those two things, in combination, allow people to open their hearts to a different level of compassion, a level of empathy with living systems, and an understanding of the interconnected and interdependent qualities that actually allow the vitality for us to enjoy this magical planet.” – Luis Camargo

”How do you do that? Maybe by spending time in nature, also allowing time for yourself, and being connected to what’s important for you, to step out of the automatic mode, to be present for yourself, take some nature walks, and think about what’s really important for you, what really makes sense in terms of bringing happiness and meaning to your life, I think that’s probably the way that we can sow the seeds of regeneration in everyone’s mind.” – Thomas Legrand


Emma, Thomas and Luis also talked about:

  • Regenerative tourism and bridging mindsets
  • Regenerative food systems and mindful eating practices
  • Measuring regenerative mindset and vitality
  • Key Behavioral Indicators (KBIs)




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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