In 2012, we started Patagonia Provisions, a food company focused on products sourced in innovative ways that benefit and regenerate the planet. And the more we learn about food, the more excited we are about the potential of agriculture. So alongside Dr. Bronner’s, Rodale Institute and a number of leaders in the organic industry, we put our heads down and spent the past year working on a regenerative organic certification. Today, on behalf of all the farmers, ranchers, scientists and activists who have worked so hard to get us here, we are proud to introduce this new certification. It’s another significant step forward for this movement—and, with your help, it could be a significant step for our planet as well.
Healthy soil is the key to healthy people and a healthy planet. But here in the United States, soil is being lost at a rate 10 times faster than it is being replenished. Scientists predict that current industrial farming practices and deforestation will eliminate our available supply of topsoil within 60 years. The big three chemical companies control 75% of all seed and pesticides. Right now in the U.S. alone, we spray 300 million pounds of “round up” a year. The rise of chemical agriculture has coincided with an alarming increase in cancer rates, allergens and disease—including for farm workers who handle crops sprayed with chemicals—and an equally alarming decrease in pollinators. Not to be overly dramatic, but when the bees are gone, it will be game over for the food supply and for Earth as we know it.
As grim as this picture looks, solutions are within reach. Regenerative organic agriculture can rebuild topsoil, reduce pollution from chemicals and sequester the carbon that causes climate change—all at the same time. In 2014, researchers at the Rodale Institute estimated that if current farmland shifted to regenerative organic practices, 100% of annual global CO2 emissions could be sequestered in the soil.
We are focused on bringing together the best science on regenerative practices with the best practices for social fairness and animal compassion. Our goal is to support and strengthen the USDA organic label, not undermine it in any way. We absolutely respect and support USDA organic and fundamentally don’t believe you can do regenerative without organic.
The only way we’re going to make this new standard meaningful is if more brands step up. We have to stand together and fight for policy changes, even in this difficult and sometimes chaotic political climate. Organic, regenerative, ethical food production needs all our voices—our clear, unequivocal voices. Our customers are demanding it. Employees will be energized as well, getting the chance to spend their careers doing lasting good for people and the planet.
We don’t have to be held hostage by three chemical companies. We don’t have to keep pushing organic food prices so low that they destroy the livelihoods of farmers and everyone in the supply chain. We don’t have to squander our topsoil and spoil our environment.
We are not perfect at Patagonia—and we are not there yet as a brand either—but we are clear about where we’re heading. It’s where we all need to go if we want to have a world worth living in. The future of the planet is at stake. Better farming can help grow a healthier, cleaner, more sustainable future. This is not the time to wait and see, to equivocate—we have to act. Let’s be bold.
To learn more and join us, visit regenorganic.org.
Update: Rose’s entire keynote speech from Expo West 2018 is now available to watch on YouTube.