Can a brand be authentically regenerative if it doesn’t know the farmers who grow its ingredients?
If regeneration of the land is different from one place to another……….if it really is a mindset and not a simple checklist…….then, don’t you have to know the farmers implementing it?
If that's true, can regenerative ever really be a commodity? But instead, isn't it something unique……something able to preserve the uniqueness of the place and way it was grown……..the flavor, the health…….all of it??
Is a trait alone….like organic or nonGMO.....even a good one……is that the same as being regenerative???
If you’d like to share your thoughts, please send an email to email@example.com
To help you think through these questions….our episode this week features two interviews – one from an up-and-coming food company and the other from a top chef.
First, we hear from Joni Kindwall-More - co-founder of Snacktivist Foods, a food company working to bring regenerative farmers into their supply chain to create everyday favorites like waffles, cookies and pizza.
Next, we will hear some perspectives from Chef Bastien Guillochon, a top farm-to-table chef at the Stone Barns Center in New York.
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Rhizoterra - an international food security consulting firm owned by Dr. Jill Clapperton that provides expert guidance for creating healthy soils that yield tasty and nutrient-dense foods. Rhizoterra works together with producers and food companies to regenerate the biological and environmental integrity of the land.
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When we can we buy from farms that are doing regenerative methods, but it's inconsistent because we'll get, like, a truckload of that and then it's gone. And then we have to dip in the commodity and we can't just be out of stock. That's not going to work, right? So we've adopted a concept called regenerative by design. And it's like our internal framework where we're like, okay, our supply chain is regenerative by design. We're working to design it to be connected to a family farm that are open to transitioning to regenerative and be smaller farms that are already doing regenerative. And then also our path to market for new products is going to be based around what is available that's already regenerative and already milled. And then we can buy it and it's like, we don't have to do all that work ourselves. But, boy, like, you know, it's a process.Sara Harper:
Welcome back to our podcast Tasting Terroir. A series of conversations that introduce you. To people who are making foods healthier. And possibly more flavourful for you and easier on the planet. We do this by looking at the. Link between soil health and the flavor of your food. I'm your host, Sarah Harper. That clip was from an interview I did with powerhouse small businesswoman Joni Kenwell Moore, cofounder of Snack, a snack food company working to bring regenerative ingredients into their brand. You'll get to hear more from Joni and from a Top Chef later in this episode. In our discussion last week, we learned about the emergence of weed killing robots and the impact that they have on scaling up regenerative agriculture, making it possible for farmers to grow food and food ingredients without tillage and without chemicals at a large scale. As Clint Brower, a Kansas farmer and cofounder CEO of Greenfield Robotics, noted in episode nine, the Greenfield robots will make it possible for farmers to expand regenerative farming principles at a level we can't even really imagine. Yet still, better farming doesn't directly benefit you as a consumer. If you can't access the ingredients these better farms grow, or if you can't trust the claims of brands that market regenerative farming to you. This brings up a question that I'd like you to think about and share feedback with me about. Can a brand authentically be regenerative if it doesn't, a know where the farmers are in their supply chain, and B is not working directly with the farmers to understand and communicate the guiding philosophy and unique regenerative practices of the region that they are sourcing from? I mean, if regeneration of the land is different from one place to another, if it really is a mindset and not a simple checklist, then don't you have to know the farmers implementing it? I mean, don't you have to really know them, not just which boxes they checked off last year? And if that's true, then isn't regenerative inherently not a commodity, but instead something unique, something able to preserve the uniqueness of the place and the way it was grown, the flavor, the health, all of it. I'm not saying you can't have climate friendly food, commodities or organic commodities, things that focus on one or two measurable traits that are able to be tested and verified and aggregated at scale. I guess I'm wanting you to think about whether a trait alone, even a good one, is the same as regenerative. Of course, you probably know my answers to these questions, but they are real questions, and I would love to hear your thoughts about them. So if you'd like to share, please send me an email to hello at global food and farm.com. That's all spelled out hello at global Food and A and D Farm.com to help you think through these questions. Our episode this week features two interviews, one from an up and coming food company and the other from a top chef that works with regenerative farmers and the public along a lot of these topics. First up, we will hear from Joni Kinwalmore, co founder of Snacktivist Foods food Company, working to bring regenerative farmers into their supply chain to create everyday favorites like waffles, cookies, and pizza. Next, we will hear some perspectives from chef Bassion Guisen, a top farm to table chef at the Stone Barn Center in New York. Hi, Joanie. How are you?Joni Kindwall-Moore:
Good, thanks for having me. Sarah, nice to see you.Sara Harper:
So, first of all, just let people know where you're at, what your business is, what you do.Joni Kindwall-Moore:
Well, I'm Joni, I'm the founder of Snack of Food. So we're on the CPG side, and I own a food brand that is focused on bringing biodiversity back to the grain and your sector through making a functional familiar foods like waffles and cookies and pizzas, like things that people know what to do with. In the United States, we're really passionate about working with regenerative farmers. We're obviously not farmers ourselves where I grew up farming, but when I was a kid, I decided that was not for me. And definitely more on the consumer awareness and consumer momentum side. I definitely noticed early on there was a disconnect with the consumer poll from the regenerative side and trying to solve that conundrum.Sara Harper:
Tell everybody what you think of what is your definition of regenerative agriculture?Joni Kindwall-Moore:
Yeah, so I have a different approach, I think, than most people that I know. And I've really grappled with this a lot over the last few years of trying to figure out an easier definition because it is such a big, sprawling category of notions and tools and concepts and outcomes. And so over the last few years, I've really tried to figure out how we can simplify it. And so for me personally. I look at regenerative through the lens of what I call the three B's of regenerative. Which is biodiversity. Biomimicry. And biological. And that those include both tools and outcomes that together. When used efficiently can support farmers in multiple periods of their regenerative practice. Like from the early beginnings and starting to the ones who are really expert and superb and have been doing this for many decades and can encompass additionality and those additional things that you're doing every year to improve. And I feel like by using the freebies we can communicate a little better to consumers where they can actually get involved. Where when you tell them about like cover cropping and motel they get kind of confused. I feel like they're so disconnected from agriculture that it's tough to tell that story.Sara Harper:
That's really good. Thank you. Maybe even for some that aren't as connected even to those terms, share a little bit. So, biodiversity, lots of differences going on in the ecosystem.Joni Kindwall-Moore:
Yeah. And if anybody has any great ideas about how we can make that more layman's term, I literally have been asking everybody. It's an ecology term. But biomimicry is really when you look at what your natural surroundings are like, what is the native ecosystem in a location. So there's a context play here because that's different everywhere. And how do we mimic the system so that we have more efficient agricultural production? So if you're in the coast and you're a mariculturist and you're doing seaweed farming, obviously that's going to look very different than ranching in the Colorado Plateau in Nevada or doing row cropping in Arkansas. So to me the biomimicry piece is very important because it takes that into account, which is a more inclusive to diverse concepts of regenerative, which is one of the tribalism problems that's happening right now. Everyone's like, well, this is how it works here. It's like, well, you have to look big picture. And then also it includes things like animal integration. Well, that is a biomimicry thing because in natural systems we always have multiple species in one location. So it really tries to embrace that concept of big picture thinking like copycatting nature. Yeah. Because if you're working with nature rather than working against it, it's by default more efficient and resilient. Yes.Sara Harper:
What would the third be? Biodiversity.Joni Kindwall-Moore:
Biologicals. Yeah.Joni Kindwall-Moore:
So again, biologicals has a lot of different layers to it because I feel like getting away from chemical intensive agriculture is a good thing. But that can't necessarily have a flip of a switch overnight. I mean, we have a very chemically dependent agricultural system just like we have a chemically dependent human system. And to get those both untethered from this chemical dependency cycle, it's going to take some time and it's going to take rebuilding the biological system. So things like probiotics for soil are really important, just like probiotics for human health are very important. And in that biological world, there's a lot of overlap between humans and soil systems and farming and nature and all of it. So I feel like biologicals as a group are the foundation of that. And so again, you can animal integration, well, that brings in biologicals on many levels. Or, you know, soil stewardship is like inherently very biological focused.Sara Harper:
It goes along with what I've heard others in this area talked about, that the focus shifts in regenerative from chemistry to biology. Focus on restoring the biology instead of using chemistry to control things.Joni Kindwall-Moore:
To control it. Yeah. And then in that way, there are circumstances sometimes where it still is appropriate to use a chemical because of something catastrophic. And there's some grace there because if you have a more intact biological system, you're going to be less likely to need those things in the first place. And then you're going to be more resilient to the chemical input because the system can absorb it. That's just my personal thoughts on that.Sara Harper:
So the second part of this talk here is about how you are practicing it or working with those who are practicing it. And I have to say, from my work with brands and watching the food industry, this has been a real challenge because the supply chains for it aren't distinct, aren't built. It's very hard to work as a brand directly with a farmer. So I'm thrilled to hear about how you're thinking about putting this into practice in your brand.Joni Kindwall-Moore:
Yeah, well, we've put a lot of work into this over the last few years because we quickly discovered when we launched an activist and wanted to have this agricultural impact, that it was much harder than we realized because, as you said, there is no infrastructure, there's no marketplace. What you guys have done is the closest thing we have to kind of and then June Camp has a network where you can tap into farmers, which is great because that's step one. But step two and step three are getting it through the Value channel. And as you know, that is a nightmare, especially if you're working with something like, our pilot line is gluten free. It's certified gluten free. We have a focus like, our foundational focus is on drought resistant crops that have a need and a value in cover cropping and in crop rotations and bringing back diversity. And so they happen to be glutenfree grains by nature. So you may as well make the gluten free product right, because that's an early adopter group that's easier to reach. And wow, I tell you, and you know, because we've spoken about this before and we know a lot of people trying to plug those holes in the ship, but it's a system shift, and it really eliminated a lot of the vulnerability in our entire domestic food system that we've gone. It's like, to the extreme. We have the big, big, big infrastructure, and then we have a super micro infrastructure. There's no middle class in manufacturing, I guess is what you could look at. It's like the middle of the road manufacturing. Like smaller scale. They'll pull, they'll do small batch, but they're still SQF certified. They still have the certification and third party audits that you need in place to do play ball with the big guys like the big retailers and can access certifications, which also you need because there's a huge pressure from distributors and retailers that you have to have these certifications. There is an expectation of the consumer. It's an expectation and a requirement of the forces that dictate past the market in larger American marketplaces and then everything else is kind of, you know, like discompulated. It's a lot of work to get it all fit together.Sara Harper:
How are you navigating that? You have farmers that you know of and you have products that you're probably interested in or ingredient. That's the other thing. Getting the crop into an ingredient. That's a super hard challenge.Joni Kindwall-Moore:
It is, yeah. And that's where we're frequently having an issue. We have like proto millett in a silo. It's a regenerative farm. They are not organic, so they can't be processed through an organic mill. We need to have a dehole. There's only two places in North America that Dhool Mill. It, it's not enough to make it worthwhile to ship all the way to Bay State and back because it's like a little less than a truckload. And so those are the things we're up against where we take a stance as a brand is like, okay, well, we can't in good faith say we are regenerative because that doesn't exist yet. When we can we buy from farms that are doing regenerative methods but it's inconsistent because we'll get like a truckload of that and then it's gone. And then we have to dip in the commodity and we can't just be out of stock. That's not going to work. Right? So we've adopted a concept called Regenerative by Design and it's like our internal framework where we're like, OK, our supply chain is Regenerative by design. We're working to design it to be connected to a family farms that are open to transitioning to regenerative and be smaller farms that are already doing regenerative. And then also our past the market for new products is going to be based around what is available that's already regenerative and already billed and then we can buy it and it's like we don't have to do all that work ourselves. But boy, like, you know, it's a process.Sara Harper:
It is. I'm hopeful that as people that maybe aren't familiar with your brand yet start to learn more about it. And I know you do a lot of podcasts and trade shows and you're really getting snackdivists out there so that's so great. Holy.Joni Kindwall-Moore:
But surely it's a lot of work.Sara Harper:
But that's what I'm hoping that consumers start to understand and maybe that's more of a role that our network can hopefully help play is to explain this. That when they support brands like yours. They are supporting building the pathway because. Most food companies are not even looking at how to bring this in and they will adopt it after you build the road. After you build the road and create the ingredients and they become less expensive over time. All those things. But there are a lot of people claiming regenerative with no shame quite frankly. And it's impressive that you are cautious with that, that you are aware of the challenge of being truthful about what that really means.Joni Kindwall-Moore:
I have to say it, that's becoming a really big deal because like even an expo looking around and I'm like, okay, you're using the word regenerative a. Do you know what that really means? How are you finding that? Because I can't find it and I.Sara Harper:
Know, but Joni, they added a cover crop to their existing supply chain. Poof.Joni Kindwall-Moore:
Yeah, and that's again, that whole thing like Sarah where it's like, I'm like you guys, you're not totally getting there. I talked to farmers and I'm like, hey, so you're doing regenerative, what crops are you growing? Because if it's not up there in this hefty list of crops they're growing, I'm like, then you're just doing that monoculture approach with a cover crop thrown in or maybe you minimize some pillage or maybe you had the neighbors goats come over for a month and that's great. I mean it's all starting pieces. I really want to encourage those early movers that are making those first steps but it's a process and if you commit to regenerative every year or the rest of your life you're farming, you're going to be like upping your game. That whole concept of additionality that's present in the carbon market needs to be philosophically overlaid on all the processes we're doing in all like food manufacturing and farming systems is like how do we do it better? And every year you have to look at that continuously. It doesn't exist like that.Sara Harper:
How can people find your snacks or snackivist snacks if they want to?Joni Kindwall-Moore:
Well right now we just launched our baking, four of our baking mixes on Thrive Market which were really nice about and on Thrive Market there's a button for Regenerative but there's no button for Regenerative by design. But then we're like, well we have to let people know that they're supporting the work to get there. So we're like, okay fine, we'll call ourselves Regenerative there, but full disclosure, we're not there yet. We only have one ingredient at a time that I'd say actually is like truly regenerative.Sara Harper:
Full disclosure, no one's there yet.Joni Kindwall-Moore:
In my opinion.Joni Kindwall-Moore:
As we build the ship and then also of course, Amazon is always an easy place to get us and we had a finished product line with some snacks that we launched right before Covet and then we needed to change our copacker and of course we all know what happened going into 2020 and manufacturing so we actually have not relaunched our snack line. We're just doing the baking mixes. It was really tough to raise capital during COVID, especially Regenerative.Sara Harper:
Like no one knew what Regenerative was. A rural woman in Idaho, middle aged, no turn and burn exit background. I come from Health Sciences and Hard Sciences. These just don't throw money at that easily. They just don't. So yeah, so we're still doing just our baking mixes, but we're looking to launch some snacks again this year because we have found some investors that are excited about what we're doing and see the big picture and understand why biodiverse brains being a normalized staple in America is a huge driver to all of our generative systems.Sara Harper:
Yeah, so hooray and share with people like your social media handles and how they could do you a newsletter or anything like that, that they could follow you.Joni Kindwall-Moore:
Yeah, we're actually redoing our newsletter completely. So if you go to our website, which is snackdivistfoods.com, and sign up for our newsletter, we are totally relaunching it. And we are actually launching another brand face of snack of us because we really want to transition the concept of snack to us away from being like a noun to being an action word. It's a descriptor. It's our consumers who are snackivists, not our package. Right. So we're working on that as well. But yeah. So stay tuned. Things are going to get really exciting and we've got some really cool partnerships with our farmers that are getting ready to launch super cool stuff.Sara Harper:
That is great. This episode brought to you by the Global Food and Farm Community globalfoodandfarm.com, a private online space where farmers, chefs, emerging food entrepreneurs and conscious consumers learn about and apply the latest science behind building healthier soils for a healthier world. Members also gain access to help with their marketing and communication efforts through our grounded Growth Paddock, featuring DIY instructional videos and joint marketing projects that are designed to help small businesses find an audience for the better products they are making. The Community provides new original content to members each week in the form of video interviews, scholarly articles, and the chance to ask Dr. Joe Clapperton any questions you may have each week. To get a free online tour of our digital streaming library and learn more about how this amazing resource community can help your business grow. Contact me, Sarah Harper at sara SA r a at global Food and Farm all spelled out globalfoodandfarm.com.Bastien Guillichon:
So, my name is Bastarn Gioshan. I'm the CDC at the chef du cuisine. Sorry. At the restaurant Blue Hill at Stone Bounds in New York. I've been there for eight years now, originally from France, and I'm actually on my way to go back to France and open my own restaurant in France.Sara Harper:
Oh, wow. It's wonderful. Congratulations.Bastien Guillichon:
Thank you.Sara Harper:
What is your definition of Regenerative agriculture?Bastien Guillichon:
My definition will be what I think of this type of agriculture from a chef point of view, obviously another farmer point of view, and how to support this system. To me, what I think is the most important is that when you take something from the soil, you need to give it back in some way. One analogy I like to do is to compare soil as a bank account. So when you take money from your bank account, at some point you don't put money back, you're not going to have money coming. So it's kind of the same with the soil. If you just plant some crops that are taking from the soil and never planting something that give back to the soil, like cover crop, and you don't do any rotations, the soil is going to be very weak and the quality of the vegetable and the disease are going to come. So what's important to go back on, my original point is, how do you create an economy for those interrupts? Because right now there is a big market for tomatoes and corn and all of those well known vegetables. But what about oat and rye and other cover that can be used? And it's actually very delicious once you start using some culinary craft and you can make some beautiful dishes with it. And the great point of doing that is like creating an extra economy for the farmer, and that will motivate them to use this technique more than using pesticide or fertilizer or all of that.Sara Harper:
Do you think regenerative tastes different? Can you taste a difference in the. Way it was grown?Bastien Guillichon:
Yes, I really believe so. Having done a lot of tasting and side by side tasting of the same vegetable but grown in a different soil, it definitely tastes very different, for sure. Right now, the chefs, we are very lucky to be in a position where chefs are in the light, kind of. And I think it's important to use that to show and educate people how they should eat and what they should eat. If we make the to take the example of rye or oats, for example, if we as chefs make people love it when they come in our restaurants, they're going to want to cook that at home. And then you create an economy that's more than just the restaurant, because we can influence people to change the way they eat, but we still need more people to actually make a change to the world of farming.Sara Harper:
How is that you feel like you're practicing Regenerative principles or working with Regenerative agriculture and stone bars or Blue Hill? Blue Hill Farm.Bastien Guillichon:
It's the connection between the farmer and the chefs. It's the fact that the restaurant is on the farm and that the farmer are coming to talk to the chef every day, or the chef is going to the field every day. And when you have a farmer, and even if you are the most talented farmer, you don't have the mind chef, the mind of a chef to see that something in your farmer's mind is not usable, or you can't do anything thing with it. But when a chef goes out there and see that there is some beautiful old shoot that you can eat and it's very sweet and delicious, I think that this very close connection is the key to it. Because to my mind, at least, a chef can be a great chef if you don't know what's going on outside of your kitchen. And a farmer can be the best farmer ever, but if he's not in contact with chef, at some point, it's going to be limited in what he can do.Sara Harper:
It really speaks to the community nature of regenerative, and that's true of the plants, too, and how they work together and give and take.Bastien Guillichon:
Right. And the other point is the biodiversity. It's extremely important in regenerative agriculture. And for a chef, you can see that in two different ways. It's much easier and controlled to have the same vegetable all year long to cook with, or you can see that as being extremely boring and want to cook with ten different vegetables or 15 different vegetables. And that's same it's like the culture of having chefs coming into this kitchen and seeing how we treat vegetable and how we react to the pressure from the farm and creating different menus and changing the menu all the time. It's also necessary to support this kind of agriculture. To me, it's like it's extremely satisfying and exciting, but there are other people that find that crazy and not controlled enough.Sara Harper:
I'm curious, have you had a chance to work with Jill Clapperton or learn anything from her?Bastien Guillichon:
Yeah, she taught me about the inter cropping and how important and what it can bring to the soil to plan different things on the same row, because they work well together or they create something special when they are close to each other. And I remember the first time I met her, she came with this kind of, like, microscope, big machine thing, and we were studying the quality of the food we were cooking. And it was extraordinary. Every time we were putting a dish together, we were, like, giving her, like, a little spoon, and she was, like, putting it on the microscope or whatever it's called, and looking at looking at the nutrient density. Right.Sara Harper:
Cool. If you had to sum it up. Like, in one or two sentences, how. Would you fill in the blank of regenerative agriculture?Bastien Guillichon:
Is it is what's necessary to yeah. And you need more people to support this kind of agriculture, including especially chefs, to have healthy soil. And if you have a healthy soil, you have healthy vegetable. And if you have healthy vegetable, you have healthy people.Sara Harper:
You've been listening to Tasting Terroir, a podcast made possible by a magical collaboration between the following companies and supporters, all working together to help farmers, chefs, food companies and consumers to build healthier soil for a healthier world. Risotera, owned by Dr. Joe Clapperton, Rhizotera, is an international food security consulting company providing expert guidance for creating healthy soils that yield tasty, nutrientdense foods. Check us firstname.lastname@example.org. That's Rhizoterra.com and the Global Food and Farm Online Community, an ad free global social network and soil health streaming service that provides information and connections that help you apply the science and practice of improving soil health. Join us at Global Foodandfarm.com and from listeners like you who support us through our Patreon email@example.com tastingtawar. Patrons receive access to our fulllength interviews and selected additional materials. Patrons will also have the opportunity to submit questions that we will answer on the podcast. Tune in next week to hear more interviews and insights with myself, Sarah Harper and Dr. Jill Clapperton, as well as the regenerative farmers, chefs and emerging food. Companies in the Global Food and Farm. Online community and beyond. If you like our work, please give us a five star rating and share the podcast with your friends. Thanks so much for listening and for helping us get the word out about this new resource to taste the health of your food. Until next week, stay curious, keep improving, and don't stop believing that better is. Possible when knowledge is available.