Anthony Myint – Sourcing better isn’t going to change the food system, award-winning chef might have the silver bullet for system change

A conversation with Anthony Myint, co-founder and executive director of Zero Foodprint. Award winning chef, Myint was disappointed about his impact on acres by his farm to table restaurants and he is now fully committed to systems change. Koen and Anthony talk about how to really move the needle on many more new practice acres which are acres where regenerative practices are used for the first time, opting out mechanisms where a small opt out fee is added to restaurant bills and food products, collective regeneration, and much more.


1% is more than enough to kickstart regeneration on a lot of additional acres and gives local governments and regional governments a tool they can implement tomorrow to regenerate a lot of acres and hectares in their region. That is collective regeneration.


Anthony and his team are advancing regenerative agriculture through a new approach, which he calls collective regeneration.

”In the US, for example, this would be a way to engage the broader $8 trillion food economy, most of which, as you mentioned before, aggregated extractive, corporate supply chains. And so, I think what we’re trying to do now is almost create a pathway for any of these companies to just immediately regenerate. You could also think of it kind of carbon insetting, or just sort of like a very direct way to financially, almost like, improve the food grid.” – Anthony Myint


According to Anthony new taxes are very difficult to pass in the current political environment, while it is possible to implement optional fees.

”Going back to renewable energy, that dollar on the energy bill is the same situation where if the government could tax, they would do it, solve the problem, change the energy grid, they can’t. So, they implemented these dollars and the energy bill opt out programs. And the key there is that if a third party collects the funds, and it’s an opt out, it’s optional, technically it’s not required, then you don’t need a ballot initiative. So, now you’ve got a situation where three people on the San Diego County Supervisors Board could just decide, hey, we need to do this. It’s not a big deal. There’s a lot of tourism, and any customer can opt out, any business can opt out, but let’s make the transition to regenerative agriculture, the new normal.” – Anthony Myint


Anthony suggests that using the opt-out model could be a “silver bullet” for climate change, as customers have technically chosen to direct the fee to sustainability projects, bypassing corporate law requirements to direct profits to shareholders.

”I would make the case that opt out could be a silver bullet for climate change. But basically, drawing out the Subway example, I think the guy keeps the little, have the penny, take up anything on the counter with dimes in it. So, if somebody wanted to opt out, they could. But it’s so nominal that nobody has opted out. If Subway Corporate did this, that would be $160 million a year. So, a really big change could happen. But at the same time, I think we all kind of understand corporate law: you can’t really collect the money and then use it for practices that aren’t directly related to profitability. Basically, if Subway were charging people this money, the CFO would probably be obligated to direct it to shareholders. And so what’s useful about that opt-out, and why I think it’s kind of a silver bullet, is that in that case, the customer has technically chosen to send it to the farm project. So, that CFO, whether they’re a good person or not, they don’t have a choice. That option by the customer is almost like a tip or a gratuity, where it’s not going to corporate; the customer has directed it to the waitstaff, for example. In this case at Subway, the customer is directing it to the farm projects.” – Anthony Myint


Anthony suggests that transitioning 1% of agricultural land to regenerative practices could make a significant difference in climate change mitigation, with an estimated $80 billion in annual investment from the food economy in the US.

”We know, almost like at the society level, that if you imagine there’s a big weeds company, they work with 100 farmers, and each farmer has 100 acres. And so, if two farmers shifted their whole practice to be regenerative, great, but then that requires small-scale milling and processing and enough throughput in that kind of messy middle to support those enterprises. But, for society in the world and climate, if 10 of those 100 farmers shifted 20 acres out of their 100, that would be the same as two of the farmers going direct to consumers and getting out of the corporate, extractive economy.” – Anthony Myint


Anthony argues that aligning on a simple, industry-specific metric, such as new practice acres, could be a starting point for alignment among investors and stakeholders in regenerative agriculture.

”The one thing I would try to get investors to consider is to keep practice acres in mind. So, let’s say a farmer is going to plant cover crops and apply compost on 100 acres. That’s 200 practice acres. […] If you’re going to do a deal, you’re going to invest in infrastructure, you’re going to buy a pretzel company, whatever, how many practice acres, let’s say new practice acres occurred, because of the investment. I’m going to put a million dollars in this investment, and, in theory, it’s a regenerative agriculture investment because the pretzel company is going to buy from regenerative producers. But that created zero new practice acres, or I’m going to put the million dollars in; it’s going to create this small-scale milling infrastructure for the local wheat producers. And 20 producers have agreed to use 10% of every sale to get the next practice acre; that’s going to generate 20,000 practice acres a year, etc.” – Anthony Myint


Koen and Anthony also talked about:

  • Measuring regenerative agriculture impact
  • Education for policy makers
  • Investing in compost infrastructure for carbon sequestration




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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