Ep. 29: Gina McCarthy – Director, C-Change at Harvard Chan School of Public Health ||

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On Sourcing Matters episode 29 we welcome Gina McCarthy, Director of C-Change at Harvard’s Chan School of Public Health.  McCarthy has a background fighting for and evolving environmental policy.  A change-agent of positivity, McCarthy has been a leading advocate for common sense strategies to protect the public and the environment for more than 30 years. She served under President Barack Obama as the 13th Administrator of the EPA from 2013–2017. Her tenure as EPA Administrator heralded a paradigm shift in national environmental policy, expressly linking it with global public health. Prior, during her career in Massachusetts, McCarthy advised five governors on environmental affairs, worked at the state and local levels on critical environmental and ecological issues, and helped coordinate policies on economic growth, alternative energy, and modern transportation.
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In our 45 minute conversation we discuss both the need and opportunity to embrace sustainable best practice across the board.  We chat about the current landscape in DC. We discuss Scott Pruitt and his $43K soundproof phone booth, Trump’s perspective on the environment, climate change deniers, future food, agriculture and much more. Regarding her take on the political divide “We need to stop Washington from simply making climate change part of a partisan platform. Frankly, It has nothing to do with being a Republican or Democrat.  Absolutely nothing! If you’re a human being – you need to care about this, and you need to act.”  To do this we need to motivate, inspire and let people come to their own conclusions that this all matters.  “It’s a strategy that we need to stop scaring people, and start creating the pied piper effect. Play great music, and let people follow you.”

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Gina explains that the EPA isn’t a birds & bunnies agency.  But, instead one focused on public health and national security. “People need to realize, climate isn’t about polar bears, it’s about their kids.”   McCarthy gets to the brass tacks of the movement, “The most important thing we can do is to realize the future is in our hands. We need to grab opportunities where they come, and be positive about it.”  She continues “We need to put science to work, and explain it in terms that everyone can understand.”  McCarthy recently completed a few fellowships at Harvard. “I found the students to be incredibly exciting and engaging. They had a sense of social justice and equity that was just palpable. They just didn’t want to tolerate moving forward in a world that doesn’t recognize that science is real, that climate change is happening, that manmade emissions are causing it; and that we have to do something – not least of which is to more women into office!”

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After her work in DC and finalizing the fellowship programs, Harvard’s Chan school of Public Health became the ideal venue to continue her transformative work in materializing the impacts of climate change and environmental pollution on public & personal health. The goal of the new C-Change center is to make sure science is driving actions continuously. She explains “The Dean wanted the science to be done not just well, but to be communicated well. To actually get into the hands of decision makers, and we can actually make a difference based on real facts on the ground.”
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McCarthy details, “The greatest opportunity we have to improve health in this century is embrace climate change as a public health issue. Climate change is opening our eyes to what we need to do to live sustainably. And, a low carbon future is something we should be running towards; investing in; talking about; getting exciting about!  I want people to know that climate change is perhaps the most direct threat they have today for their kid’s tomorrow. Taking action against climate change now is the greatest opportunity we have to chart a future that is sustainable.”

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What we’re learning is: we do have great leaders, from all over, with diverse backgrounds who are ready for their time up at bat.  This has melded with a confluence of a citizen awakening, and what seems to be a zeitgeist of generation next where responsible action can be the permanency to set a proper course moving forward.  Recent defeats from this administration is a gut check; maybe a call to action for us to gain some small wins, together, for greater good and stability.  So, whether instigating change from our dinner plate, in a lab or research center, via technology & innovation, or from some of the most prestigious institutions in the land – we’ve got this talent.  We need now to mobilize around small victories and milestones from the grass-roots.  It’s our time we get out and make a difference!

@HarvardCChange

 

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photo source: Politico   


 

Ep. 28: Willem Ferwerda – CEO of Commonland Group ||

Today on Sourcing Matters ep. 28 we welcome Willem Ferwerda – CEO of the Commonland Group.  Based out of the Netherlands, Commonland believes that landscape restoration offers tremendous untapped opportunities for sustainable economic development.  To demonstrate this potential, they develop landscape restoration projects that are based on business cases, and proper monitoring of their successes using multi-dimensional returns.  With current projects in Southern Africa, Spain, Western Australia, and the Netherlands – Commonland engages with multidisciplinary teams of investors, companies, and entrepreneurs in long-term restoration partnerships with farmers and land-users. Already, the approach has cast new expectations for what returns represent to each of the different stakeholders.

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The goal of Commonland is to realize large-scale landscape restoration with local farmers, land-users and experts based on sustainable business cases with each impact being assessed through a matrix monitoring diverse returns that connect natural and economic landscape zones through a multi-stakeholder initiative benefiting all parties. Willem founded Commonland with the idea the long-term commitment is important, as it takes approximately 20 years – or one generation – to restore a landscape.  Their holistic restoration approach focuses on the 4 key returns of Inspiration, Social, Natural, Financial.  Those returns combine to define a baseline for their long-horizon mission – which is to contribute to a large-scale landscape restoration industry, aligned with international policies and guidelines throughout a shrinking planet.

 

Maybe Teddy said it best:

“I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land; but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us. I ask nothing of the nation except that it so behaves as each farmer here behaves with reference to his own children. That farmer is a poor creature who skins the land and leaves it worthless to his children. The farmer is a good farmer who, having enabled the land to support himself and to provide for the education of his children, leaves it to them a little better than he found it himself. I believe the same thing of a nation.”

– Theodore Roosevelt: The 1910 New Nationalism Speech

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@Commonland

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related links:
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Ep. 27: Tatiana Garcia-Granados – founder & COO of the Common Market joins co-host: Jennifer Hashley of the New Entry Farm project, and Pete & Jen’s backyard birds ||

On episode 27 we welcome founder of The Common Market, Tatiana Garcia-Granados – with co-host Jennifer Hashley of the New Entry Farming Project to a discussion on  ‘Making Regional Work’.  Pioneers in a new system of regional food hubs, Tatiana Garcia Granados and her husband, Haile – founded Common Market in 2008 as an innovative solution to deep problems in the food system by creating a mutually beneficial link between family farmers and urban communities.
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The flagship Common Market Mid-Atlantic is a mission-driven distributor of sustainable, local farm foods. Spawned of their North Philly Neighborhood – they developed a concept that would connect institutions and communities with good food from now over 200 producers in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. There’s also a second proof case in the The Common Market Georgia – connecting producers with larger institutions in Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina and Tennessee.  And, a newly spawned 3rd program out of Houston, TX, NYC & DC. All hubs set to build local food systems that generate health and wealth of rural and urban communities alike.
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Each day, thousands of pounds of fresh produce, meat and dairy products leave the distribution center of the Common Market destined for school lunches, hospital meals and the shelves of local grocery stores. “We provide specific grower information when you place an order, and it’s printed on every invoice and every case of food so you know exactly how the food is grown and where it’s coming from.” – explains Garcia- Granados.
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Co-host Jennifer Hashley always adds insight to the conversation.  Coming at it from the producer, aggregator, and teacher’s seat – Hashley knows the bottlenecks, and the potential of it all.  Centered out of the Tufts Friedman School of nutrition – The New Entry Sustainable Farming program is one of the first initiatives nationwide to help immigrants and refugees develop commercial farming opportunities.  Jennifer’s goal is to help new farmers excel in the field, and New Entry gives them the tools to do that. It’s a revolutionary program that looks at sustainable and regenerative farming as jobs creation, and economic growth for regions often in need of stimulus.  In partnership with her husband, Jennifer oversees a diversified pasture based livestock operation, including Pete and Jen’s Backyard Birds on the the renowned Codman Community Farm in Lincoln MA.  She’s a wonderful advocate for the agricultural region of the Northeast, and the small farmer everywhere..

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Finally, Tatiana and Jennifer share some of their experiences for their Eisenhower Fellowship programs.  Tatiana’s focus on food access and policy throughout her program in Brazil was inspiring, and offered benchmarks for what can be accomplished to support the many family farms & farmers in our country.  Jennifer witnessed a colliding of two agricultural worlds in Ghana & Nigeria.  Titans from conventional seek scale, but are running into infrastructure and resource limitations needed to operate their model.

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Whether it’s a food system in South America, North America, Africa, the EU or the Far East – Regional is everyone’s future.  Tatiana Garcia-Granados & Jennifer Hashley are two of the great folks proving that regional can happen!  We’re lucky they’re both on ourside.

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What’s really going with local farms & regional food economies – have a listen.

@CommonMkt

@HaileJohnston

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co-host:

Jennifer Hashley

  • Founder of Tufts New Entry Sustainable farming project 
  • Owner of Pete & Jen’s backyard birds
  • Evangelist | Activist| Innovator
  • Eisenhower Fellow 2016

@JHashley

Ep. 26: Warren Valdmanis – Managing Director of Bain Capital Double Impact fund ||

If food choice is the panacea to remediate the biggest issues plaguing man and our planet, how we capitalize the production and distribution of that better quality food needs innovation within the confines of modern high finance.  On episode 26 we welcome someone fighting this battle, Warren Valdmanis – Managing Director of the Bain Capital Double Impact fund.  Focused on investing with three themes of impact: (i) Sustainability, (ii) Health & Wellness, (iii) Community Building – Warren and his team seek financial and impact growth for their partner companies solving critical problems through sustainable business models. The Bain Double Impact fund utilizes a value-added approach, experienced team and a broad platform of expertise to provide the resources and capabilities that these companies need to thrive in a modern world.
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In our 35 minute conversation we discuss a variety of topics throughout the value chain of food, and throughout a circular economy. Warren begins episode by shares interesting anecdotes and details on a few of their portfolio companies. He describes the criteria Bain Double Impact uses to assess and invest in these different companies.  Warren also shares how he got into the impact space; how through both personal motivation to improve his wellbeing and to cast a leading light for his family – they’ve defined a tip-of-the-spear approach in private equity which could till new ground for an industry looking to better connect with millennial investors set to inherit $40 trillion in the next decade.
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With a goal of creating value for diverse stakeholders, Warren Valdmanis and his partners at the Bain Double Impact fund set to connect the desires of a modern consumer with the realities of industry in dire need of ingenuity.  This is not philanthropy.  And, that’s a wonderful thing as the only way we’re going to deal with the problems of a shrinking planet pressed by skyrocketing populations, and not enough resources to go around if we stick to a business as usual approach – is to engage the free markets and the capital markets to drive change through multi-dimensional returns with impact on more.

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@BainCapital

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co-host:

Renee Vassilos

  • Agricultural Economist
  • Regenerative & Big Ag intermediary
  • past portfolio manager: Deere China
  • Bilingual Dutch / American citizen 

Full bio: Renée Vassilos is a Dutch-American Agricultural Economist with over fifteen years of agriculture industry experience. Her expertise ranges from strategic market analysis and product development to sales, marketing and distribution strategy. She has lived and worked abroad- three years in Amsterdam and six years in Beijing- contributing to her robust global experience, cultural competence, and network. 

Today, Vassilos is sharing her expertise through her consulting business. She utilizes her global cross-functional experience from working for the USDA and John Deere to support the growth of sustainability-focused agriculture businesses. She has a BS and MS in Agricultural Economics from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana and University of California, Davis, respectively.

Ep. 25: Congressman Seth Moulton – Massachusetts Sixth District ||

On episode 25 we welcome Congressman Seth Moulton of Massachusetts 6th District.  Since taking office in 2015, Rep. Moulton has been introducing innovative policy and ideas to benefit those he represents, and the region he’s from.  Probably best known on a national level for his voice of resource in addressing gun violence and just ownership laws, to many of his constituents North of Boston – he’s well known as a jobs creator and champion of a modern fishery.

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I first connected with Moulton’s team a few years back when they hosted Monica Jain and the Fish2.0 Northeast Hub near their offices in Salem, MA. Since then, Seth Moulton has taken his commitment to responsible fisheries and regenerative ocean farming back to DC with the introduction of the 2017 “The Young Fisherman’s Development Act”.  This bi-partisan bill co-authored with Republican Don Young of Alaska looks to empower those working on waterfronts and oceans of tomorrow. You see, too often folks look at US fisheries, especially in the Northeast, as an oppressed and declining industry.  Congressman Moulton and his team have a different perspective. One that views a modern responsible fishery and the entire seafood industry as an innovation economy with potential for persistent jobs creation for the region he represents.  Moulton seeks to find common-ground (water)  amongst necessary regulation/quota restriction, and an industry with linage older than our independence.  On a shrinking planet with increasingly depleted and contaminated Oceans the approach we’ve instituted in the Northeast United States, one now being bolstered by representative Moulton, has unique potential to cast a long shadow as intellectual property which can be scaled to teach more of 3 billion reliant of sea protein how to properly manage the bounty of the sea for generations to come.

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In our 30 minute conversation we evaluate the capacity of including fisherman and ocean farmers in future US Farm bills.  For clarity, 80% of the resources of the proposed 2018 Farm bill will be allocated to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) aka. food stamps. This national program of a 1/2 of trillion dollars which arises every five years is in fact our shared domestic food plan, and it drastically under represents our population densities in coastal cities. The inclusion of fisheries & seafood not only adds a voice to the food plan for our largest populations, and guarantees more high-quality food for more in need of SNAP, but it gives our fisherman the same war chest to deal with impending environmental change as we currently employ with many terrestrial food producers. Effectively,  we discuss how this pragmatic approach to introduce multiple returns to diverse stakeholders seems realistic under new and future leadership.

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The Clean Cold Waters of the protected North Atlantic provides some of the best and healthiest food in the world. Our well regarded fisherman and ocean farmers who manage these waters deserve to be celebrated for their craft and unique stewardship of these natural resources. With these natural gifts bestowed upon us, and our approach in managing our Marine Ecosystem over the last 50 years – we provide diverse offerings, and the knowledge of how to interject an innovation economy into a longstanding but stagnant industry to meet a changing environmental and consumer landscape.
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If you’d like to know who’s on deck for leading us in 2024, or maybe even as early as 2020 – have a listen to what this highly decorated champion of the Northeast has to offer.
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@SethMoulton

 

 

 

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photo source: Politico (header)  


 

Ep. 24: Congresswoman Chellie Pingree – Maine’s First District ||

On Sourcing Matter episode 24 we welcome Representative Chellie Pingree of Maine’s 1st District.  A lifelong advocate for better food and equal rights – since her first day in office Congresswoman Pingree has been a dogged supporter of the local food movement, of the farm worker, and for improving access to nutrition for more US families.

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Having the opportunity to connect with Rep. Pingree a week after returning from a visit to the southern US border where she witnessed firsthand what’s happening in our modern day internment camps – we begin our conversation correlating how these policies are impacting the agricultural work force; and their kids!  In our 1 hour conversation we also chat about SNAP and the 2018 Farm Bill.  We share appreciation for the many bounties of Maine. And, we discuss how nutritious food can be preventative health care for each and every American citizen.

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Pingree currently serves on the Congressional Committee of Appropriations, the subcommittee of Agriculture, and that of the Interior & the Environment. As a past Eisenhower Fellow and with a decade of experience in US Congress – her unique experience allows us to seamlessly transition the conversation from rural Maine, to the New England region, to the entire US, and throughout the globe. Despite canvasing the map – our discussion is underpinned by the theme of reconnecting with natural order, and food.

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Truth is, a good portion of our discussion focused on the beautiful State of Maine.  Once, and what could again be the fulcrum of the regional food system of the Northeast, Maine has an agricultural linage dating back to the beginning of the Union.  3500 miles of coastline boasting access to a bounty of some of the cleanest waters and seafood in the world.  Through this, Maine could cast a long shadow in future bio-regional economies. Pingree embraces systems thinking on her farmstead & Inn in Maine, and in the other House – on The Hill, 600 miles south.

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Whether looking to progress regenerative agriculture, or responsible fisheries & ocean farms, or the connection of food and its impact on the environment, or just teaching constituents of the many values of good food – Maine seems it could be ground zero for a food and production revolution.  If Pingree has anything to say about it Maine will become the tip of the spear in growing its economy by investing in its own regenerative resources that service the wellbeing and stability of its citizens.  You see, years of forced innovation has matured into diverse layers of Maine ingenuity ready to be put through its paces. With an arsenal of natural resources, and knowledge that mitigates risks of future instabilities local and abroad – Pingree is drafting a new plan.  Tune-in, and listen to the insights of this passionate and impactful leader drafting a new plan for our future food.
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@ChelliePingree

@nebolodge

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related links discussed in our conversation:

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition Blog: http://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/
Food Policy Action Scorecard: http://foodpolicyaction.org/scorecard/
Information on Rep Pingree’s food policy work: https://pingree.house.gov/food

 

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photo source: Grist (header) | Civil Eats (headshot)


 

Ep. 23: Jason Haas – Partner & General Manager at Tablas Creek Winery ||

Wine is more than just any libation, it’s an experience steeped in history. It’s part of ritual and beliefs, it ties us with friends, family, cuisine, and for many – with their lineage. From the highest-end vintages that are matured & aged for decades, to the low-end box of wine at the corner store costing a few bucks – this cold fired fermenting extends a full spectrum of offerings that now accounts for a $62B domestic industry.  The success of the industry is tied to its ability to differentiate those offerings throughout that spectrum. From the region it’s from, to an elevated production approach, to the aging process, or its unparalleled cuisine connection that helps develop an ecosystem of aficionados that have become increasingly interested in each of all of these unique factors further connecting the consumer with their drink of choice and its affinities – it matters in wine.

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Producing Châteauneuf-du-Pape style Rhone wines native to the Southeast Corner of France, today we welcome Partner and General Manager of Tablas Creek Winery Jason Haas to Sourcing Matters.  Situated squarely between San Francisco & Los Angeles, Jason’s family began their California winery in 1989 using elevated practices that focused on Organic and regenerative in effort to benefit their soils, and the flavor of their wines.  Now, producing 360,000 bottles a year of biodynamic and diverse vitas – Tablas Creek has established themselves as a desired brand that engages consumers and progresses the industry through their commitment to producing world-class wine.

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From “Place” & provenance, to cleaner & transparent production, to agritourism which engages & retains,  to preservation of values throughout the supply chain – have a listen – hear how this approach in wine can act as a new baseline for more food categories to follow.
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So, when next marrying wine with your cuisine – we hope those expectations for quality and associated values on wine thus ports (carries-over) to the food you’re pairing.
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@TablasCreek

 

 

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photo source: 


 

Ep. 22: Fiona Wilson, Chair of Board  & Dave Herring, Executive Director – Wolfe’s Neck Center on Casco Bay, Maine ||

Situated on over 600 acres of preserved coastal landscape in Freeport, Maine – Wolfe’s Neck Center uses its setting to connect people of all ages to the food they eat and where it comes from. As a nonprofit, Wolfe’s Neck Center draws upon a rich history of innovation and experimentation to continue the legacy of this place today. Through regenerative farming, innovative soil health research, and visitor interactions, the land is now used as an educational resource to create a healthier planet for all.
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Joining for episode 22 of Sourcing Matters we welcome Dave Herring: Executive Director at Wolfe’s Neck Center; and Fiona Wilson, Chair of the Board at Wolfe’s Neck, and ED at Center for Social Innovation and Enterprise, Asst. Prof. at UNH’s Paul College of Business.
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Our 45 minute discussion ranges from regenerative best practice -to- the current state of milk -to- the business potential of regional production -to- encouraging more connection to nature, and systems, through getting out – and camping.  Fiona and Dave have begun a new epicenter of food, agriculture and environmental research on Casco Bay in Maine. It’s a marquee example of Sustainable Coastal Farming that works to “Transform our relationship with farming & food, to transform the planet.” Hear how these folks are amplifying, educating and curating an ecosystem.

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@wolfesneck 

 

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Ep. 21: Volkert Engelsman – CEO & Founder of EOSTA & Nature & More ||

Did you know that the thin walled produce you eat can be some of the most concerning foods in your diet. From everything we think we know – that just seems counterintuitive. How can Fruit & Veg possibly worse than processed food, high fructose sugar, feedlot beef?  Well, that may come down to the eye of the beholder.  Concerns with neurotoxins and hormone disruptors used extensively in common pesticides throughout conventional production, or that of glyphosate are real and are worthy of scrutiny.

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On Sourcing Matters episode 21 we welcome Volkert Engelsman, CEO of the EU’s largest importer of organic and biological produce – EOSTA of the Netherlands.  Engelsman is a global thought-leader fighting for cleaner food and healthier soils through a unique process of engaging more stakeholders in sourcing.  “When you commoditize products, you anonymize origin and backstory” explains Engelsman in describing why he launched trans & trace technology platform Nature & More to validate the integrity of his supply chain.  Now, as the backbone of their produce distribution – this framework brought mainstream through a “Sustainability Flower” is used to evaluate, manage and communicate the sustainability achievements of organic growers. The six flower petals deal with ecology: soil, water, air, plants, animals and energy. The heart of the flower shows the words “freedom”, “justice” and “solidarity”, which refer to cultural, societal and economical sustainability respectively.
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Along with the UN and Ernst & Young – Volkert Engelsman and the team at EOSTA have levered the Nature & More framework to prove healthier & cleaner food has greater value than the cheap stuff.  The pilot program has been labeled “True Cost Accounting for Food, Farming & Finance”.   We learn that French Government has calculated a 54b Euro impact of externalized costs from contamination on the water supply and environmental impact tied to conventional food production. More over, the UN calculates $2.8 Trillion of environmental externalized costs and $2.1 Trillion in social damage tied to extractive models of agriculture.  Engelsman explains that’s about the equivalent of the total revenues of all food products from around the world.  “The report makes clear that organic food is not too expensive, but rather conventional food is too cheap.” – details Engelsman.
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in 2015 Engelsman launched a viral initiative to engage everyday citizens, VIPs, and political leaders to Save our Soils.  With 30 football fields of soil being lost every minute to irresponsible farming practices, this UN-backed Save Our Soils initiative aims to inform consumers about the urgent need to halt the loss of irreplaceable soils. To amplify the impact Engelsman employs ambassadors like Prince Charles, Julia Roberts, King of the Netherlands, Dalai Lama, Bishop Desmond Tutu, activist Vandana Shiva and conservationist founder of North Face Douglas Tompkins to support efforts in preserving soils, and promoting clean food on a shrinking planet with a fresh look at true costs.
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Have a listen, and hear what’s going on around the world. There are some pretty exciting concepts ripe for change. This guy, Volkert Engelsman of the Netherlands, is a driving force teeming with insight and creativity set on changing the world for the better.
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natureandmore

SaveOurSoilFund

 

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photo source: William Taufic


 

Ep. 20: Robyn Hannigan, Founding Dean – School of the Environment at UMass Boston & Micheal Tlusty, Prof. of Sustainability & Food Solutions at UMass Boston ||

There’s been a citizens awakening to Ocean Health.  It’s a macro trend in the US, much instigated by an awareness of a younger generation to the problems we have on a shrinking planet.  On Episode 20 we welcome Drs Hannigan and Tlusty of the UMass Boston School for the Environment to discuss in detail.

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Over 70% of our planet is blue.  Unfortunately, these oceans have become a trash receptacle over the past 50 years, and it appears we’re running out of never-never-land to throw-out our growing waste stream.  You see, in that same half century time period – human population has skyrocketed from 3.5 billion to 7 billion.  Single-use non-biodegradable plastics are now everywhere; even forming its own landmass!  And, that’s just the beginning…

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During our discussion I learn about what’s going on at the new state of the art UMass School of the Environment campus on Boston Harbor.  Hannigan & Tlusty share how this New School Ocean Campus was “created out of a series of modified environmentally Ocean focused programs that we specifically designed to solve a Marine or Ocean health problem.”  Michael discusses his innovative background and past initiatives with the New England Aquarium, and now his goals within blue food economies. Robyn has great perspective on jobs creation throughout ecological & environmental markets.  We discuss solutions to funding, policy, practice, and awareness to problems local and abroad.

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@EnvSchool

@TlustyM 

 

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photo source: