Investing in Regenerative Agriculture and Food

270 Lucio Usobiaga - Agriculture as an act of working with the magic of life

December 15, 2023 Koen van Seijen Episode 270
Investing in Regenerative Agriculture and Food
270 Lucio Usobiaga - Agriculture as an act of working with the magic of life
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

A conversation with Lucio Usobiaga, cofounder of Arca Tierra, about Chinampas, a wetland ecosystem in Mexico City with a rich history of food production and cultural significance, regenerative agriculture and its connection to soul and purpose, chefs and gastronomy in Mexico City, and much more.

This episode is part of the Regenerative Mind series, hosted by Emma Chow. Through a series of conversations with farmers, chefs, investors, thought leaders, and social entrepreneurs working to regenerative futures, we explore consciousness and the ‘regenerative mind’. Collectively responding to the question: ‘What is the mindset that enables people to serve as regenerative leaders for a radically better food system?’
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Speaker 1:

Welcome to a very special series of conversations diving deep into the mindset shift needed for the regenerative transition, hosted by Emma Chauw, friend of the show and active in the regenerative space. For a while, she worked with many of the largest food corporations in the world and went on a deep personal regeneration journey, leading, among other things, to a love for cacao. This is the first time we host another voice on the podcast, so I hope you all give her a very warm welcome. Emma, the mic is yours.

Speaker 2:

Thanks, koon. It's great to be back, and this time in the hosting seat. Through six rich conversations with a range of guests, we're exploring the role of the mind. What mindset enables people to serve as regenerative leaders for a radically better food system? What are the common threads across these conversations? Well, we're about to find out. We're looking at regeneration from the inside out.

Speaker 2:

This series is supported by our friends at Stray, who are exploring systemic investing with awe and wonder, as well as our friends at Mustard Seed Trust, who are enabling a transition to a care economy that fosters regenerative food systems. Thanks so much for tuning in. We hope the conversations crack the door open for you and invite you to explore new ways of thinking and embodiment towards regenerative tomorrow. Why has farming, a profession that's so sacred, been devalued, and what role can chefs play, through their ingredient choices and dish design, in promoting Kempasina farmer culture and revaluing these incredible people? We explore these questions and much, much more in this conversation that gets an inside look at the mindset behind one of Mexico's greatest examples of real regeneration in Sochimilco, mexico City.

Speaker 2:

Hi everyone, and welcome to the show Today. I'm joined by Lucio Usobiego, and he's the executive director of Arcotierra, which is an organization in Mexico City that's doing incredible work reviving the ancient Aztec floating gardens of the Chinampas, and they're doing that through regenerative food production and lots of other various initiatives that are helping to reconnect urban people with the rural areas and with their food in new ways. I'm really excited for this conversation. Thank you so much, lucio, for coming on today.

Speaker 3:

Thank you very much, emma, for the invitation. I'm very happy to be in the podcast.

Speaker 2:

So good to have you and have the power of the internet connecting us across the Atlantic, as I'm in England today. So I'm grateful for that. And, as you know, this series is all about the mind and specifically what makes up a regenerative mind is. We're calling it and this is a bit of a newer phrase and I'm curious for you, when you hear that phrase or regenerative mind, what comes up? And it can be totally abstract, it can be clear, kind of thoughts and phrases, whatever.

Speaker 3:

Well, for me it involves the time we're living, know that. We're seeing in our lifetime and in the past few generations how most of the ecosystems have been degraded and some destroyed because of a mindset that is completely the opposite of a regenerative mind. So my first definition would be like a negative definition in terms of what we're not doing, because, as I'm saying, the paradigm or the general mindset is one of exploitation of people and of nature, and we need to change that. The first thing that comes to mind is agriculture, the main activity I'm involved in, and how we can grow food and, at the same time, regenerate our landscapes. So it links us directly to life, to the power of life and to the process of life that needs to be taken care of and respected.

Speaker 2:

I love that phrase, especially that you just said the power of life and the process of life. And for those who are listening, who've never heard of Arcatira, can you just paint a bit of a picture of what this project is all about and how you're doing just that through the work in the physical world of supporting the power of life and process of it?

Speaker 3:

Of course, we've been working for 13 years, especially in Sochi-Milko. That is a place in the south of Mexico City. It is a wetland ecosystem where indigenous people from more than 2000,. 3000 years ago created, built this island farms called Chinampas, and showed us how human intervention can have a positive effect on biodiversity, on food production, on transportation. So it is a big source of inspiration, all the Chinampas system In Arcatira. We're a platform of sorts where we connect people from the city with the farmers by working in regenerative agriculture and offering food healthy and delicious food to people in the city and also inviting people who live in the city to the Chinampas to visit us and enjoy different experiences, such as cooking workshops, agricultural workshops, experiences where you can see the sunrise, in the canals, in the lake. So it's kind of a way of reconnecting, especially changing our mindset to a more regenerative one by means of food, of being in contact with nature and by means of showing how producing healthy food works.

Speaker 2:

Thank you for that. Just painting the picture. And can you also speak about again, for those who may have never heard of the Chinampas, because it was not long ago that I had learned all about them, but a bit of the history, because you spoke about how they were, these amazing growing areas thousands of years ago that were having a positive effect on everything. But have they been used that way through all of time or has that changed?

Speaker 3:

Well, if we go to the geography of Mexico City, we're in an endo-rake basin, a basin that doesn't have a natural outflow of water, and we're at an altitude of 2200 meters above sea level, 2100. So it's like if we're living in a bowl, surrounded by volcanoes and mountains, where sooner or later, the basin will flood because of the rain, so that five lakes were formed, and I'm saying where formed? They no longer exist, except for Sotimilco because of bad management of water. But going back maybe 4,000 years ago, some archaeologists say that the Olmec civilization started the Chinampas, the islands, and it's a very ingenious way of gaining land from the wetlands in order to farm. So it's having this incredible sensibility regarding the flows of water, of the land, of the plants and of the trees to build this silence. So they were able, if we go forward, they were able to support the Aztec Empire 200,000 people in its capital. We're talking about many different cultures that passed through the Chinampas. What's important to understand is that it was way sooner than the Aztecs. All the Aztecs arrived in the 12th, 13th and 14th century. In the 14th century they founded the capital. So way before the Aztecs, the Chinampas thrived as a way of producing food, not only farming, also fishing and hunting, in a way that created more life, more diversity.

Speaker 3:

Because this islands, by creating the islands, we are forming a lot of canals, many canals like medium-sized and small canals.

Speaker 3:

So they were basically creating ecological niches for different species of animals, of plants, so that the canals became a place of refuge, of feeding, of reproduction of many, many species. So, basically, when the Spaniards arrived and conquered the Aztec capital, many of the water systems were destroyed and the European mindset, in a way, worked against the natural flows of water and they started diverting the rivers and drying up the lakes and the canals. This culminated with Mexican independent government in the 19th and 20th century, where all except Sochi-Milko Lake were dried up and most of the rivers were turning to sewage systems. And now the Chinampas, even if they are still one of the most beautiful places in the cities, they have become endangered and the city keeps growing on top of them. So the situation is dire. Also, despite its UNESCO World Heritage sites, ramsar wetland, of world importance natural protected area, so it's a place of enormous value in terms of food production of carbon, sequestration of water, infiltration of culture, and what we've been doing in Arcadierra is trying to create a model that can restore the place.

Speaker 2:

And I have to imagine well, you'll tell me otherwise, but probably lots of people who come out from the center of a concrete world and not too far away and then they land on this incredible paradise of sorts in these canals. Do many people even know that it exists, or it's like their first time seeing food production when they're coming from the heart of the city?

Speaker 3:

Well, most of the people in Mexico City know that the Chinampas exist and if you ask almost anyone what do you think of Sochi-Milko and of the Chinampas, they will say well, it's a place to go and have a drink and have a boat ride, to enjoy with friends, with a family.

Speaker 2:

So it's like an entertainment area.

Speaker 3:

Exactly no recreational entertainment area. But very few people still know that the Chinampas are farming, are farms, and our islands that were built to produce food. So that has been mostly lost. No, and there are just a few families still carrying out the traditions of farming and of caretaking of the Chinampas.

Speaker 2:

And so people who come and do these cooking workshops or agricultural workshops and I'm assuming you have some things that are open to the public, I believe what kind of impact does that have on people's relationship to the place?

Speaker 3:

from your observations and experience, Well, for us it's been an amazing experience. At the beginning I focused mainly on farming, but soon I realized that tourism and workshops and bringing people from the city and from other parts of the world to the Chinampas is a very important part of our work because it makes people more conscious about the history of the place, the importance. So how can we take care of something if we're not aware of its importance? How can we value something if we don't know how it works? So, instead of showing people around with music and drinks, everyone that visits Arca Tierra gets to step on a Chinampa and walk around learning about the ancient techniques of agriculture. They can talk to the farmers and learn about their work and learn about the history. So that has brought us a lot of people that have supported the project, a lot of allies of other projects that have helped us with many things. So, yeah, it's been a key feature of Arca Tierra to offer to the public visits to the place.

Speaker 2:

Just giving people that chance, through their own lived experiences and through their direct senses, to see and know a place in a different way, which is so important, and food being a core part of that. And I also am wondering, could you speak a bit because I know you do some work with chefs and on the gastronomy side. Can you speak a bit about that?

Speaker 3:

Sure, I remember when we started. We started, as most farmers do, producing food, but once we had our first harvest, the question became what are we going to do with this? We started approaching some restaurants and at the beginning we had a very negative response. Because in Mexico City there is this enormous market called Central de Abastos that sources all of the restaurants, many of the markets. So most restaurants just call the big market and they get whatever they want, regardless of the season, at a good cost. So for us it was difficult to understand that we needed to find specially chefs who own restaurants.

Speaker 3:

Fortunately for us, the movement had already begun in Mexico City, where chefs like Enrique Olvera, gabriela Cámara put a lot of trust in us and started buying us produce. So that gave us the kickstart to start producing more and very soon after many other restaurants like this kind of restaurants opened up. So our first clients were chefs and many of us gave us feedback in terms of how we were growing the food and when to harvest. Some of us gave us seeds, some of them became friends. So we were very fortunate, because I'm sure if we had started maybe 10 years before, it would have been much more difficult, even impossible Because, the same as with chefs, there has been a growing consciousness from general public in terms of where to get their food, how to get to know the farmers. So, after working with a lot of chefs, we started our own community-supported agriculture, our CSA boxes. We continue to do so, so that many families in the city could and can buy our harvests.

Speaker 2:

So you're starting to unpack for us now some of the many facets of the organization because there are many, and when I think about it, I think that it's such a reflection or expression of the essence of regeneration. And I'm curious, when you reflect on your journey how did you begin to think this way? Or is it something that, by design, ever since you were a really young kid, this is how you saw the world? Or was there something that shifted your own worldview to say, yeah, I want to promote life and that force that's all around us?

Speaker 3:

Well, actually I come from a very urban background. I was born in Mexico City and my family, I don't come from a farmer family, so for me, sotchimilco was a discovery. Many years ago, about 15 years ago, I opened up a store to sell organic produce and artisanal products, and when we were looking for this organic produce we went to Sotchimilco because we were living in the city. For me, it was a big surprise to know that the Chinampas are this incredible place with history and culture. So it was a revelation for me and for the first time in my life I got to know farmers and the beauty of agriculture, the magic of growing things according to nature. So that really changed me and made me devote myself entirely to working with farmers.

Speaker 2:

What did that feel like in that moment? When you arrived there Because you said, going for that visit was a revelation for you what was it that woke up inside of you?

Speaker 3:

For me it was this great intuition that food connects to soul. I was still studying and it was like this crossroads where you can tackle problems regarding economy, society, ecology, on top of that, all the incredible act of growing things that people can eat. So at the beginning it was this intuition that wow, this is amazing and this makes a lot of sense, and also, at the same time, the negative aspects of Sotchimilco that it's become very, some of its parts very polluted and also abandoned. Most of the families, the campesinos, peasant families don't want to farm there anymore. Most of the people in the city are unaware of what's happening.

Speaker 3:

So it's really being moved and motivated by this contrast of emotions, the sense of beauty, the sense of purpose, of importance, but at the same time, the fear of losing such an important place, the trauma that would signify to the city. So, as I come to understand it, for me there's no activity that has so much sense in it and a mix of physical activity to reflection. It's like touching the earth and also going to the sky at the same time and also working with the life processes. I mean, that's really magical and I think that's one of the most important vocations that we as humans have and in many terms, have lost. Going back to the regenerative mindset, I think one of the main reasons we're here on this earth is to walk with life and not to step on it and to destroy it. So the Chinampa showed me all of those aspects that still inspire me today.

Speaker 2:

Wow, I love that. And there's so much richness in what you described, everything from the power of contrast, because when I hear you speak, I can imagine you drifting down those canals and just looking around and seeing the beauty and, at the same time, seeing the potential and the risk of losing something, as you say, that matters to the city. And then, how did Arkitia actually emerge? Was it quite quickly? After that, how did those seeds start to form and grow?

Speaker 3:

Well, at the beginning it was only a commercial endeavor. It wasn't called Arca-Terra. You know like the main goal was to to being able to sell organic produce to buy. You know like to buy for a good price to the Campesino farmers and then sell it in the city. You know, At the time I was in university, I was studying philosophy and I was thinking like I want to have like an income while I keep studying, you know, and finish all my studies. So for me, the like, the entry way, was to earn money. You know like I know it's not the best idea. You know I want to make money by selling organic produce, but it was my main goal. And then, upon the discovery of the richness of the place, I finished my master's degree and I quit university. I quit the school and started doing this like, like, in a full-time way, reaching out to chefs, to researchers, to NGOs, also to government agencies, you know, to help articulate a project that that can restore part of Sotimilco at least, and as part of that.

Speaker 2:

It sounds like you're just naturally forming this ecosystem and it just makes me think of approaches for system change and needing to find those acupressure points. So do you feel like that naturally emerged in this process for you of thinking in systems, navigating it, kind of figuring out how to influence the important nodes of it too?

Speaker 3:

Of course. Yeah, I mean, one of the first realizations was that the most important thing is to form a red of sorry, a web of alliances no, of supporters. No, as I mentioned, chefs, consumers in the city. Obviously, the peasant families know that we have to think like holistically. No, because I also found out there were other projects, many led by biologists, that were mainly focused on on rescuing endangered species. No, some of them were focused on cleaning the water. Some of them were only commercial, as I started. No, like to buy and sell. But what I discovered is that what we needed, like a very holistic project no, that addresses the ecological aspects, the social aspects, the commercial aspects, like everything no, like. That's something I think I learned from studying philosophy. No, that you have to think of like, using a philosophical term, like the conditions of possibility. No, you have to think of the, of the axioms or the premises in order to have a good result.

Speaker 2:

And I love that link with philosophy, because it's not every day that you meet someone working in food and farming and they come from that background, but for me there's such a clear connection and application when it comes to regenerative food systems. And did others who you are interacting with in this web that you're weaving share that same mindset, or did you bump up against others who had completely different mindsets and there was some conflict or blocks?

Speaker 3:

Well, so Chimilquist is a very traditional culture? No, and they are very mistrustful of people from the outside, even if they come from the same city. No, so it was really hard to gain the trust of farmers. No, Like what is this guy doing? That? He's not a farmer, he doesn't know the place. So the only answer to that is time? No, that you remain there, you keep working until you become part of the landscape? No, and they start saying, okay, well, this person isn't here just for curiosity? No, or isn't here just to gain some advantages or to exploit the place? No. And I mean, obviously the farming community is the most important group of people that we work with. But apart from that, I realized that many people are specialists. No, they specialize, like, in the technical aspects of farming, or they specialize in e-commerce, or in fundraising, or you know, and my mindset is more integrative, it's more like thinking about, without being a specialist in most of the things, being able to think how to title all together.

Speaker 2:

This has come up in many recent conversations that I've been having this question of have we overvalued and appreciated this hyper-specialization and lost the place in society for the generalists? Because that's exactly that, and I see your role. It's so clear seeing the whole system, seeing literally what's in the ecosystem and then what's our stakeholder network you're serving and integrating into, and that takes a different kind of approach that isn't just focused on one area and being good at it. And I just have curiosity too you were speaking about the farmers and them being your most important stakeholder group or group of people you're working with, and how many farmers are you working with today?

Speaker 3:

As of now, we're working with 35-40 families. No, but we also have a program, campesino School, a peasant school, where we give education to young men and women so that we can help renew the generation of farmers. Because I mean, in Mexico, in Latin America, we're talking about countries where there are still millions of peasants, probably in the US. No, in Western Europe there's been an exodus from the countryside to the city and now just a very small percentage of the population farms. So what I want to say is that we still have time in Mexico to reverse this tendency where the countryside is emptied no, and the only model of success is living in the city and being successful in terms of material earnings no, so more than discovering Sochi, milko or my biggest revelation is the importance of Campesino farmers no, especially in this time in history where we're seeing so many environmental problems no, and health-related problems to food. No that we need not all become farmers, but in my opinion, campesino farmers are the most important people in today's world because they can help regenerate the landscapes and also the basis of culture. No, that is the natural landscapes by diversity. Food, and we have mostly forgotten about them. No, and it's no surprise that no one wants to farm anymore. No, if you go to most places in Mexico, young people want to do anything but farm. Because it's very badly paid, it's frowned upon. No, it's physically hard work.

Speaker 3:

So, without romanticizing the subject, our main goal is to help farming attractive again. No, to make it cool, to make it profitable, because we know that agroecological farming or regenerative farming is really interesting no, and amazing, and it can help you understand life and nature. And it's a sacred job in terms of that, or a sacred profession in terms that you're feeding people? No, so why a profession that is of such importance has been so devalued? No, so that's one of our main motivational engines.

Speaker 2:

And I'm totally with you on how do we make farming cool and attractive. You know, one of my dreams is that kids the next generation in the classroom. When they're asked what do you want to be when you grow up, it's actually a popular answer to say farmers, whereas I say right now it's probably the opposite. And how do you actually reach the next generation like, are you using social media? Are you having visits with schools? How do you reach them?

Speaker 3:

Well, like all of the above, no, we're using social media. We're also like physically, with posters in the neighborhoods. No, describing the school like words to mouth from the same students from the same families that we know, and we're very happy to say that the first generation of the farming school was very successful. I mean only seven students, but they are all continuing their work in Sotimilco, in the Chinampas and very happy with the program. No, so we know we're doing the right thing and what we wanted now is to grow, to have a generation maybe of 20 or 30 students.

Speaker 2:

And how soon on the horizon. Where is that vision for you? Is that like in the next couple of years, hopefully having that many students?

Speaker 3:

Well, we're beginning our next generation in mid-February and we're aiming at 20 students. Well, that depends on our fundraising, what we're positive, that we can at least begin with 15.

Speaker 2:

Yes, yeah, and I want to step back now because I love going into all the different aspects of the organization, the work and these revelations that you've had. And when you look externally at the food systems work at large, both in Mexico and can also be beyond. Do you think we're focusing enough on the mind and the mindset?

Speaker 3:

I don't think we are. No, I think that what's happening is that, as long as we have the means, we're just consuming whatever we want, regardless of how it's produced, how it's farmed, where it comes. And in terms of the mind, we have to voluntarily put some constraints on our desires. We have to look closer at the seasonality, at the footprint not the carbon footprint at the work of the farmers, and obviously it's not easy with the busy lifestyles that we have and with easy access to food Since the pandemic in Mexico City, when with a few clicks you can have food delivered in two hours to your doorstep. So, in my opinion, we can inspire.

Speaker 3:

We can get inspiration from farming in terms of how we need to be patient. We plant a seed and maybe it takes three or four months before we harvest. We have to be mindful of the weather, when to plant, if there's no rain, if there's too much rain we have. In a way, we need to surrender our illusion of total control of nature and understand that there is a mystery and I don't know, like a mystery of life. That is not good to try to suppress and control the way we're doing and, at the same time, the way we consume dictates the way we produce. So how can we practice a healthy agriculture if farmers are pressured to produce homogenous foods like the same size, to always have no very energy intensive? So yeah, we need to take a step back and rethink the way we eat and we relate to farmers.

Speaker 2:

It's like changing that relationship and what even is the act of eating? And that line you just said of needing to surrender our illusion of total control of nature? And I just think about moving from control to not lack of control, but more like flow, and releasing this need for everything to be homogenous and constrained to these sort of templates, whether it's the size of the fruit that we're picking up at the grocery store or what's on our plate, or how it's growing in the garden. And in all of this mindset shift and change in relationship with food from an eaters because we're all eaters perspective. What role does chefs play in all of this? Because you work with so many, what's your perspective on that?

Speaker 3:

Well, the role of chefs has been very important in the last decades because they get to try out different kinds of foods and different kinds of ideas. No, that can in a way be passed on to the general public. From the point of view of seasons, of nutrition, of flavors, many of them have experimented in very creative ways. No Like, for example, you're in England. I've never been to this restaurant, but it's called Silo in London.

Speaker 2:

Yes, I've been.

Speaker 3:

No, I've been, I would love to go.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's a good one.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, what they're doing with recycling everything, everything like the scraps of the pumpkins. No, it's so amazing.

Speaker 2:

No, yeah, they're totally elevating ingredients that in, otherwise diners minds are probably like oh, that's low grade in terms of status, that's not food that I want to eat. And then they're showing to the eaters for the first time oh, actually it's really tasty and it's a high value because people are paying good money to be eating there. So it's a high value ingredient and it changes their perception.

Speaker 3:

Exactly. I mean, those kind of restaurants, in my opinion, are very important stakeholders in the food movements. No, in Mexico, there's a new generation of chefs that come from indigenous and rural backgrounds. They're doing amazing things with traditional ingredients. No, and the ingredient goes back to a seed or to a plant or to an animal. No, that in its turn, goes back to good practices in terms of agriculture and, you know, like working with animals. So, yeah, here at Aracatierra, we're really excited about this movement of young chefs in Mexico. No, I mean, we're very lucky in Mexico that you can eat very well almost anywhere. I mean, we're losing that in a way. But here come these chefs that are like translating the original recipes into new ways of cooking with techniques from other parts, and so, as you were saying, it's more about flows. No, they're like flowing with living in a globalized world but working with the ingredients that their grandmothers show them. So it's really, really exciting.

Speaker 2:

I know this was years ago now, but I'm just thinking back to a conversation with a chef in South Africa who said exactly that, where the young teenagers, young adults in Cape Town and the cities are gravitating as they're earning more money. They're gravitating to the actually the most unhealthy, hyper-processed fast foods and hyper-refined foods that are actually not good for them at all and instead they're moving away from their grandmothers' foods, which are actually much healthier, but they see it as oh, that was like my old life, my family's old life. I was more poor then. I don't want to eat that food, and so what I'm hearing from you is these next generation of chefs in Mexico City are perhaps leaning on those original recipes and upgrading them in a way and making them cooler and trendy and delicious too, to attract those younger people and all ages, I would say but maybe it helps keep people from steering in the unhealthy direction. I'm not sure what it's like over there.

Speaker 3:

I mean, both tendencies are happening. I don't know what place we occupy, but Mexico probably is at the top three of junk food and sodas and obesity and diabetes. So don't get me wrong these chefs are doing amazing things, but only very few people are having access. Some of them come from very remote places in Oaxaca or in Hidalgo, and they have this situation of how beans or greens called calites can be very nutritious and very tasty, so that hopefully more people will say exactly what you were mentioning. Most people from rural backgrounds relate these ingredients to poverty, to suffering, to being backwards. But what these chefs are saying is we don't have to imagine anything from outside or create anything. We have the best ingredients here. It's just a way of reimagining them or revaluing them, like turning around the value of pest and culture and of indigenous ingredients.

Speaker 2:

I love that, just that sentiment of we don't actually need to be seeking something outside of ourselves, but we have it within our existing culture and place, and that's probably very true even for our relationship with the soil and working again with the land of a place. It's like there was a history where people thousands of years ago were working with it in total harmony and stewarding that land to allow everything and everyone to thrive in a way. So how do we remember some of those pieces and then combine it with some of the modern technologies and things that we can measure the soil health and be tracking these endangered species and things like that and weaving these different times, but in that same place?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, that's exactly right. And the key aspect to understand about these new chefs is that they come from peasant families, because sometimes for chefs that come from an urban background it's hard to relate to farmers, to understand the seasons or the quantities or the plant cycles. So only the most curious chefs in the cities, or the ones that have the means to do so, can learn all of this and can promote all of this. But chefs that come from these backgrounds, they have it in themselves since they were born. So for us it's promoting Campesino culture at the same time with farming and with eating and all of these values that we're talking about, like the generosity of peasant farmers, the generosity of nature, the patience of farmers of harvesting, of planting, the observation of nature, looking at the moon and at the rains and when the certain birds come to announce the first frosts. So all this, I really love the concept you mentioned all these flows that we can use, work with.

Speaker 2:

The rhythms. It's like I'm just imagining a chef in a kitchen. You know what? Do you think? Oh, they're disconnected from nature. But no, they have nature. They have the fruits literally of nature in their hands and they're never cut off, when they're, from that background that you just spoke about, from that innate wisdom and conversation with nature's rhythms.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, but like many things you know. We only know about the end result. You know, like the consequences Chefs with what they have delivered to the restaurants. They only have the very last part of an entire process and we can correlate that to many, many things you know. It's so important to understand the process and not like the last part. You know the result or the product. You know as such, and I think that is very important for the regenerative mindset no thinking about the processes and not only in the conclusion or the product.

Speaker 2:

Yes, yeah, and that's a big topic too. And just the regenerative movement and regenerative agriculture, where there's sometimes debate, you know people say, oh, there's regenerative practices, and then others will say and I think I'm in this camp to say that there isn't a set list of regenerative practices in themselves, but it's focusing on the process and also what sort of outcomes are we moving towards. And it's very difficult to measure because it breaks out of our desire to control that we were speaking about earlier and oversimplify in a very mechanistic way that does not meet the innate complexity and intelligence of nature. So we can try our best to create rubrics and checklists and ways to measure, but it will never be able to wrap itself around all of these elements and complexity. And you may not have an answer to this, but I'm curious, like, when it comes to measure one and this mindset of a regenerative mind, do you think it's something we can measure and, if so, how?

Speaker 3:

In terms of agriculture, I think it's very I mean, it's somewhat easy to measure. No, in terms of like a regenerative mindset. I don't think that the proper method is to measure it, but to be able to interpret it. No, To read between the lines. It's more a qualitative aspect. No, and also stressing out that we've, since I don't know, probably more than a hundred years ago, we've put all the value in things that can be measured and calculated and, in my opinion, many, many things cannot be measured. No, and we should not try to force it, but it's something that you can experience. No, like more and more people talking about it, more and more people practicing this kind of things. I mean, in my opinion, there's still so much to be done and I don't know if we're going to be able to do it in time in order to avoid, like, much bigger catastrophes. But it's kind of a way of reading the times. No, kind of a way.

Speaker 2:

Yes, yes, it is difficult to describe with our language and words and measure in numbers for sure. I don't even know how we do that, but it's something that we can experience and we feel it and it's like that magic you were speaking about earlier. Like you just know, there's something deeper inside of you and what's?

Speaker 3:

getting? Yeah, go ahead. I mean what we can measure no, and this comes from. I mean, our favorite agriculture in Arca Tierra is called Sintropic Agriculture. That is another way of saying regenerative, involving natural succession and other things, but it's in terms of energy no.

Speaker 3:

In the biological world no. If you're working in a system that it's becoming more and more complex because it's creating more life and more energy, you can measure that? No. How much photosynthesis you're getting from plants and how much organic matter you're having in your soil and the amount of life, the microbiology of the soil no. And the yield in terms of kilos or pounds of food no. And the people, the amount of people involved in those systems and the people that are benefiting those foods no. I mean, in those terms it's possible to quantify and it's very important to do so no. But what I was trying to say is that what we aim at is it goes beyond the technical and the quantitative aspects. It's something that it's like a qualitative step that we have to make as a species no, and that is too deep to measure.

Speaker 2:

We had Charles Hutchins also on this series and he speaks about the threshold where it is a big step to cross over and it is highly qualitative. But I agree with you. There's this clear interface between the inner world, our inner world as human beings, and the outer world and what we shape, especially when we're farming and dealing with natural systems, and we can measure these different aspects, like the photosynthesis and energy and the microbiology of the soil, and it can be a reflection perhaps of the return mind within one person.

Speaker 3:

I think so and it is very tempting and I know like a lot of friends and people know that think that just by means of doing regenerative agriculture, especially in the synchropic way, we can heal ourselves and really make this step. We're talking about no, but I think it's harder than that. It's much more complex. There are practical reasons like, first of all, not everybody will start farming no, like many people will not be interested in that. No, but even if the whole world started farming in a synchropic way, I think there is an essential difference between all kinds of life and humans. No, like the founder of Syntropic Agriculture, ernest Gocz, says that we're not the intelligent ones, that we're part of an intelligent system, and I think he's right. No, we're talking about the mystery of nature, the power of nature, the abundance, the complexity, the way of life, but in terms of humans and human interaction, I think we also need to pay attention to other aspects.

Speaker 3:

No, and not only regenerating ourselves by regenerating nature. No, we have to. I mean, that's the hardest part. No, but it's containing our desires, no, and really finding our place and being happy and content with what we have and wishing the best for everyone and trying not to be conscious that we are a violent species, no, an envious species, no. So I mean, in my opinion, we have to go further. No, and there's no one way or method, or reason or religion or way of thought or spirituality. No, but we have to think about all of that.

Speaker 2:

Yes, yes, I'm with you on that. And to get people on that road head in that direction. You just spoke about going well beyond just creating a physical system, but all those different elements. If you could do one thing tomorrow and I'm asking all my guests this, curious to hear the answers to help decision makers and investors in food and ag develop a regenerative mindset, what would it be?

Speaker 3:

Part of my job is to convince people with means, no, to help the project. And I mean, I am convinced that the people that have more money are the people responsible for ecosystem degradation and biodiversity loss and high carbon footprint. No, so the first thing I would say is, like, look at yourself in the mirror. There's not all of that you have. You need no. And when is it going to be enough? It's never going to be enough. It's a vacuum. No, it's an illusion that you're going to be self-sufficient or you're going to have an autonomy. You're going to reach a point where you say, well, now I am what I want to be, but that's not going to happen. No, and that's what I'm saying, that we need to accept our human nature. No, I mean, that's the first thing.

Speaker 3:

The second thing would be with the enormous resources no, that some people have put in the right places, we can change, like all our urgent issues. We could solve them, we could restore them. No, but what's surfacing at the bottom of these questions is like are we willing to change our lifestyles? No, are we willing to understand that if we don't change our lifestyles including me, including, like I come from privilege? No, I know what I'm talking about. But if we don't change our lifestyles, then probably the future generation, the generations, won't be able to live a life as we have been able to do so no. So even if you can do and can buy and can have and possess many things, how can you say I will not do this? No. Or how can you find other sources of enjoyment, of purpose, of meaning in things that will not be accumulating stuff or having power over other people?

Speaker 3:

No, and it's not about eradicating that part of ourselves because, I mean, that's how we are no, but it's how we can put it in a way that will help other people no, and mostly people that are suffering a lot from not having almost anything no. And the last thing would be like it's like depending on how old are you no, and how many of you have children or grandchildren. But I mean, do we really need to have a collapse to understand and this is one of the questions I ask people that are very into this I mean, do you think we need to be like in a total disaster to understand that how we're living and it's not sustainable For me that is and to answer that same question? I think we do need to have more disasters and tragedies from what's been happening in the last years, but nobody can see what's going to happen in the future. And also our faith and our efforts is put in not needing this kind of collapse to happen in order to understand the conditions that we're destroying the conditions of life, no.

Speaker 2:

And then what I'm hearing is, through all those pieces is this thread that you highlighted in the beginning is developing the awareness, and that's both within and to oneself and our place as individuals with this broader collective.

Speaker 2:

And I think as when we develop that muscle of awareness, we don't need to have these huge shocks in the form of disasters and tragedies to wake us up, but we're more aware in the day to day and understanding again how to be in right relationship and have that flow of reciprocity as well, which is also money as a resource and wealth flow, and how do we get those flows moving in a healthy way through the local and global system. So thank you for your answer to that one and I think that's a good point to wrap up our conversation today. So thank you so much for coming on and spending the time and just sharing your story and your inner world and the story of Arcatiero, and definitely encourage anyone who has the chance to visit Mexico City or, if you're based there, do make sure to make a trip out and see the incredible place.

Speaker 3:

Of course, emma. Thank you very much for the space and for the attention, and I hope that we can continue having conversations in order to ask more and more questions.

Speaker 2:

Yes, it's not always about having the answers, but the right questions and being willing to explore them. So I hope this may be inspired listeners to to pique their curiosity and have some questions to explore beyond this. So thank you for that.

Speaker 3:

Thank you.

Speaker 1:

Thank you so much for listening all the way to the end. For the show notes and links we discussed in this episode, check out our website Investing in RegenderWagerculturecom. Forward slash posts. If you like this episode, why not share it with a friend? Or give us a rating on Apple Podcasts? That really helps. Thanks again and see you next time.

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