What’s an outdoor clothing company doing selling food? A similar question was asked of me in 1968, when we were blacksmithing new tools for mountain climbing, and suddenly started selling shorts, shirts and pants. Skepticism seems to rise whenever a company refuses to “stay in its lane,” but as an entrepreneur, I see business opportunities everywhere. As a lover of the outdoors, I see a way to save our home planet and its creatures—including us—from the destructive habits we’ve invented for ourselves.
By Yvon Chouinard, Founder, Patagonia
A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition demonstrated “reliable declines” in key nutrients found in 43 different fruits and vegetables over the past half century. Another paper showed that a person would need to eat eight oranges today to equal the Vitamin A our grandparents got from just one. In its review of these and other studies with similar findings, Scientific American states, “the key to healthier produce is healthier soil.”
Big Organic, which started out with good intentions, is now dominated by large companies searching for ways to grow more food and increase profit margins through technology. Sound familiar? If that’s the future, I say good luck trying to make decent wine from hydroponically grown grapes.
It seems to me that our priorities have gotten out of whack.
Fortunately, there is a better path forward. Regenerative organic farming practices yield large crops while building healthier soil, which can draw down and store more greenhouse gases. Free-roaming buffalo restore prairie grasslands, one of Earth’s great carbon storage systems. Rope-cultivated mussels produce delicious protein while cleaning the water where they’re grown. Place-based and selective-harvest fishing techniques allow us to target truly sustainable fish populations without harming less abundant species. As these examples illustrate, the more we roll up our sleeves and dig into the world of food, the more we discover that the best ways are often the old ways. We must, as the great environmentalist David Brower taught, “turn around to take a step forward.”
With Provisions, we make that turn and step toward a new kind of future. One filled with deeply flavorful, nutritious foods that restore, rather than deplete, our planet. A future with widespread adoption of Regenerative Organic Certification, which ensures that food is produced in ways that build soil health, ensure animal welfare and protect agricultural workers. In short, I’m talking about foods that are a key part of the solution instead of the problem.
That’s the revolution I want to be a part of. Why is Patagonia making and selling food? The real question, to me, is how could we not? I realize, now more than ever, that the requisites for a thriving business and thriving people are one and the same. Triple bottom line? Food, water, love.