Is regenerative farming the future of food? What benefits does this approach entail? Why should we even rethink our food systems?
The planet loses arable lands the size of 20 to 25 soccer fields every minute, according to Christoph Langwallner, founder and CEO of WhatIF Foods, whose trailblazing business uses regenerative practices to grow daily staples, including noodles and milk, from underutilised nutritious crops such as the bambara groundnut. The Singapore-based company is attempting to fix a broken food system not only through regenerative farming, but also value chains that empower farming communities.
Join Christoph Langwallner and WGSN’s Director of Food & Drink Jen Creevy to get a glimpse of what the future would look like if we treat farming communities as partners rather than suppliers, close the loop in agriculture systems, and diversify our foods to open up a world of new tastes, textures and flavours.
Tackling the root cause
“Today, 12 crops and five livestocks are used to make more than 75% of all food that is being consumed, which is an insane consolidation. This is the opposite of biodiversity and of being holistic. This is a foundational issue resulting in a system that emits one-third of all greenhouse gases. It uses 77% of freshwater and 70% of arable land to make feed for livestock, which contributes only 17% of calories that we consume. If we allow regeneration to be misused for greenwashing, we don’t tackle the root causes of the problem. Brands and companies will work biodiversity as a core concept of regeneration into existing supply chains; if we leave regeneration on that narrative alone, then we will end up doing incrementally better. But it’s by far not the right thing.”
Closing the loop
“One needs to build trust with farming communities and start engaging in a meaningful value chain rather than a linear supply chain. The value chain is circular. For example, the bambara groundnut can be used in our milks and in the dough for our noodles, while their shell can be converted into biochar. Therefore, the loop can be closed and you can contribute to soil health as well as community health.”
Diversifying our diets
“Many consumers have lost touch with nature because we live in an urbanised world. It could be a radical shift to think about how it would look if we change 12 crops and five animals to a different formula. What would it look like if a couple of hundred or even a thousand crops were brought back into the supply of food? How diverse and flavourful would that be? How many textures and smells would we experience? I think it is truly important to switch on the senses again.”
– Christoph Langwallner, founder & CEO, WhatIF Foods