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  • Maudy Hendriks

Conscious Consuming

5/10 - The Circle of Soil, The Care Revolution issue #2

“We are what we eat”. This famous quote from the 19th-century German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach appears to more true than he, and many after him, thought. Evidence is piling up that there is a close relationship between the health of our food systems and our own physical and mental health. The more our farming is based on natural processes, the healthier our soils, the healthier our food, and the healthier our guts. But it doesn’t end there. The healthier our guts, the healthier our waste, the healthier our soils, the more stable and productive our farming system. What and how we choose to consume impacts this cycle. Our partners show us ways of taking back control over what we eat, and therefore who we are.

One example is to consume more locally, even though this has challenges of its own. As Boudewijn Tooren states: “We don’t grow macaroni but we all want to eat it from time to time.” In the community of Herenboeren, Boudewijn notices a vast difference in consumption habits. “The ‘light greens’, are the people who do not shy away from buying extra goods at the supermarket. They are overwhelmed by the abundance of our summer harvests and do not always realise that this is the supply for the whole year. The ‘dark greens’ rarely set foot in the supermarket. Instead, they pickle, ferment, and freeze meals for the entire winter. The majority sits somewhere in between these two.” Although Boudewijn would never tell someone to not buy strawberries for a Christmas dessert, the main food system in the Netherlands frustrates him. “We are the second biggest agricultural exporter in the world. We produce food, sell it abroad, and use the money to buy imported food”.

If there is any company that knows how to link farmers and consumers with a collective

interest in regenerative agriculture, it is the South Africa-based company ‘Grounded’.

Stephie Mendelsohn, Head of Impact, explains how they see and play their role in the small but quickly growing regenerative agriculture value chains. "The primary area where we aim to have an impact is agro-processing. Food processing companies are the linchpin between regenerative farms and the consumer market. They have a say in how they want their goods to be produced, and as such can nudge farms into regenerative farming practices.” In this way, the regenerative agriculture producers supported by Grounded, have a guaranteed outlet for processing their products. Next to this, Grounded links traders in search of regenerative products, to reliable producers and processors. “Middlemen are often seen as dirty players in the market, but they actually perform an important role in creating important networks that otherwise are difficult to foster. So we work directly with medium-scale, sustainable brands who are looking for honest products. We help them to find their way in the regenerative agriculture value chains, and with the logistics to get regenerative products to consumers.” In regenerative consuming choices, Stephie sees a huge opportunity. “Through conscious consumption, we consciously choose what system to invest our money in. And every rand or euro in the system has a multiplier effect in every link of the chain. It’s similar to what happens in the soil if you really take care of it.”

What is waste for one organism, is food for the next in line! Read the next column!

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