Investing in Regenerative Agriculture and Food

What we learned in 2023 about cooling the planet, food as medicine, regenerative renaissance, indigenous knowledge and decommodification

December 27, 2023 Koen van Seijen
Investing in Regenerative Agriculture and Food
What we learned in 2023 about cooling the planet, food as medicine, regenerative renaissance, indigenous knowledge and decommodification
Show Notes Transcript

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:

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 rainsaid Anastassia Makarieva because, according to the latest science, healthy ecosystems, and specifically healthy forests, regulate moisture and thus rain.

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Speaker 1:

What we learned in 2023 about cooling the planet, food as medicine, regenerative renaissance, indigenous knowledge and decommodification. As we're wrapping up 2023, we look back at a year which feels even crazier than 2022. Another war has started and we've been flooded literally with extreme weather events. Every month seems to have been the warmest, the driest, the wettest, etc. In history. Let's look at what we covered and learned in the podcast this year. This changes everything. Cooling the planet. What if water is more important than carbon? This question posed by Alpha Lowe, 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 the water cycle about this key and neglected topic. Roger Savery joined us to talk about the scale and cause and how to kickstart regeneration in desert situation, changing local weather patterns, abundance, soil, bacteria, conventional agriculture, world War II and much more. Niels Beckman rejoined the podcast and shared why it's so difficult to raise funding for these kind of projects. Our professor, mian Mian, 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 the massive snows we've seen in the UK and massive floods in central Europe. Healthy forests invest their capital to create their own rain Set, anastasia, because, according to the latest science, healthy ecosystems, specifically healthy forests, regulate moisture and thus rain. Regeneration at scale and regenerative renaissance on the islands. There's a huge need for regeneration at scale, as well as to strengthen local food systems and ecosystems. From the forest of the Muga Valley in Spain, we discovered a visionary plan of Stefan Dungen to regenerate 100,000 hectares of a watershed in Spain while preventing the forest from burning and people from burnouts. So far and yet so similar. Hawaii and Ibiza, two islands with a massive inflow of tourists. The Archipelovah, why, which used before Western contact to produce enough food for 1 million people, now, with 1.4 million people living there and 10 million tourists visiting it, has to import over 90% of its food. A similar story in Ibiza, which imports 96% of its food, while there's a massive space for regenerative renaissance, according to Christian, the founder of Junto se Ibiza.

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Our 200 episodes and a new voice on the show. Yes, we reached the 200th episode of the podcast and we celebrated this with friend of the show, emma Chao. In the 200th episode, emma myself talked about her journey and at some point she turned the mic and interviewed me. There was such a nice experience that we asked her to become the new host of regenerative mind series. Yes, a huge moment and honor for the podcast, as Emma Chao agreed to take the mic and we are already halfway 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 Lawrence, two women for the Farmers' Philosophy series.

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The experiment that started at the end of last year 2022, with Jeroen Klompe, 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 this year in 2023. We sat on the beautiful and full of life fields of Bodumseg Farm in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, and Amadeco Agricultura Sintropeca in Depressa, south of Italy, with Anne van Leuwe, learned about the non-existence divide between nature and culture, nutrients, food as a basic human right, minimum wages for farmers and true cost economy. With Diana Andrade, shared her personal journey, explaining how lessons and practice learned with Ernest Gertsch 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, which hasn't 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 the brilliant minds like Stefan van Vliet, who is running the world's first randomized clinical trial of 14 weeks comparing a whole diet of supermarket food versus food grown using agroecology and regenerative practices. Brilliant minds like Aaron Martin and the FreshRx Oklahoma program provide nutrient dense fruit and vegetables to 50 people with severe diabetes for 12 months. This saves the state of Oklahoma $750,000. I just repeat, $750,000. You want to work in nutrient density? Start with animal protein is the suggestion of Eric.

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Eric Jackson, who rejoined the podcast, who also talks about the dark matter of nutrition. Jasmine brought us into the deep nutrient research on a 350-hectare commercial arable farm, with everything from counting worms to sap analysis, and Oliver Houssan, who is involved in the absolute cutting-edge science on photosynthesis and nutrition, and also 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 assessments, lca methodologies are broken and how it's possible that only 1% of the nutrition data is tracked on food labels. This means lots of opportunities for companies. I just care about getting everyone a carrot. Right now, a lot of people don't have carrots.

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Sam Kass, former White House chef and senior policy advisor for nutrition of the Obama's administration, raised the next 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 found it with his partner in the Indigenous Baby Food Line created by farmers and new parents to increase access to traditional foods in early childhood. We talked 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 one of the topics we tackled in our most recent conversation with Reginaldo, together with why chickens are the perfect entry point to decolonize our food system and Lucho, which told the story of the Arca Tierra work in the wetland ecosystem in Mexico, where indigenous people showed us how human intervention can have a positive effect on biodiversity, food production and transportation. We can be a positive keystone species, our beneficial keystone species, indigenous water management and how satellites can help restore ecosystems and manage landscapes, while making water our friend again, is at the core of ICHE and Lenka's interview. It's time for decomodification and people must play a role. Platforms showing the way are there. Ome is betting on radical transparency and on showing exactly how much farmers, makers and brands make as the key to more consumer demand. Crowd farming instead, after building a regenerative movement by connecting 350,000 consumers directly with 250 farmers, is now getting ready to really push further into impact and the regenerative transition. And farmers are there.

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We had Will Harris come on the show to openly share the challenges of being in the regenerative space for 25 years but barely making any money, and the difficulties of new people wanting to get into this space and the unfairness built into the highly chemical, fossil-few 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 and big agriculture, miles away in another hemisphere and an ocean in between. Angus McIntosh, regenerative Ag Pioneer and former Goldman Sachs banker, shared similar challenges discussing building personal brands, stacking businesses, markets, carbon, nutrient density, cobalt, chemical-based fertilizer and large distribution Building actually can be boring, but it's key to get it with storytelling and paying farmers invoices on time. According to Stang, building a brand and packing boxes is Boerschap's way to make sure they're going to be there in two, five or ten years so that the pharma can invest in long-term regenerative practices. And corporations are there too, and there's caution and excitement for big corporates being in the space. As we unpacked with Karen and Ethan, they can play a crucial role in speeding up the regeneration and scaling regenerative practices.

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As we saw with Paul Grieve and who has shared his past year bird case, not many can say that they build a successful past year chicken operation, sold it to an eight billion a year chicken company and after the successful exit, continued from within this massive corporation to scale. Past year raised birds to millions of chickens. But big, big warning 2023 was also the year where we saw companies like Bayer and others to claim that they are part of the regenerative future and, more importantly, their products are a crucial piece of the puzzle. We've seen this before with tobacco and fossil fuel. Don't fall into this trap. They only want to confuse. They want confusion and mostly delay, which means extra revenue from chemical, fossil fuel based poison and when shit hits the van, we can share common ground.

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Aside from Peter Big, we hosted the creative minds of two other documentaries Holy Shit and Common Ground. Fita Zingana created a documentary on how shit can feed the world. See how our shit has to feed the world, because this is a crucial gap in our circular food system, the need for a mindset shift and the technology needed. Quote from the makers of common ground. If you like sick people and if you like climate chaos, by all means continue to invest in chemical agriculture, because that's the direct result. If you don't, and if you want to course correct and if you have the ability to do that, we can show at this point regenerative portfolios just like at the beginning of renewable energy that are outperforming the chemical portfolios. These are the words of Josh and Rebecca Tickle, producers, directors and writers of the movie Common Ground and previously Kiss the Ground. Dig into 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, chemical agriculture model going bankrupt and much, much more.

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Regenerative investments are of a side coming to Europe and Grantswell 24. Furthermore, we hosted Randall Breen from Australia, who shared his holistic investment approach, and we had a long conversation with Eva and Philipp of Climate Farmers about their latest investments and, if we can call that, regenerative. Are you keen to learn more about investments in the regenerative food and agriculture space? Regenerative food systems investment summit, rfsi, is coming to Europe and it will be held in Brussels on February 28 and 29. Another event we look forward to is Grantswell, which will be back in the UK on 26, 27 of June 24. Thank you, put both of them in your agenda.

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We're actually at Groundswell in 2023 this year, and how amazing to be back at the festival after four years in an honor and honestly, a lot of fun to moderate the conversation with two wonderful human beings, anne Bickley and Zac Bush legendary conversation. Almost at the end of the year, we released something very special the learning, the fascinating story of Drawdown Farm, our long interview I think it's an hour and a half with Time Warmalik, the former Wall Street banker. We covered so much, from Vermicompost to GM Cotton, from John Kempf to regeneration. They started in the Pakistani desert but we still only scratched the surface in an hour and a half.

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Your path forward in regentive food and agriculture, our new video course. Throughout 2023, we've been working on creating a new, updated, more structured and more visually appealing version of the video course about investing in regentive agriculture and food. Through the podcast, we've had the great fortune to meet so many entrepreneurial farmers, food companies, investors, fund managers, scientists and more. As we are in the decade of restoration, it's clear to us that we need more people active in this space which are building ventures, investing and working in it. That's why last week the end of 2023, 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 creation of future-proof food and agriculture system. Find out more in the links below. That's it. That's a wrap On to the next one and wishing it will be a regenerative and peaceful year.