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Vertically integrated Food Systems

Consider this. In 1880, 50% of Americans were in farming. Today: less than 2%. In other words, in the 20th century half the US population grew food in their back garden. Now we grow 0.1% of our own food. What does this mean? We’ve distanced and sterilized ourselves from land and nature, whilst chemical mega farms—dependent on pesticides and antibiotics—degrade soils, water systems, biodiversity, and human health.

In 1965, 4% of Americans had a chronic disease. Today, 46% of American children have a chronic disease. The correlation is uncanny.

Recent studies show that ancient parasites, fungi, and bacteria living in our soils possess immunoregulatory and boosting properties, reduce anxiety and depression. From the Earth’s creation 4.5 billion years ago, life and soil have been inextricably linked. Our technological advances pale in comparison to the soil’s innate organic intelligence.

Mud. Muck. Dirt. This is the fabric of human health we have downtrodden and ravaged.

Organic food company and Positive Founding Member, AUGA, understand this deep connection between soil and human health. What’s more, they’re helping to turn the tide on the old agricultural model, towards a Regenerative and resilient one. Their mission: to deliver organic food with no cost to nature. The fact that such a simple statement has become a noble mission illustrates how far we stray from our natural path.

Today, AUGA is the largest vertically integrated—meaning they control their whole supply chain—organic food company in Europe. They specialise in crops, dairy cows, chicken and mushroom growing, and produce their own range of organic soups, porridge and pulses. Based in Lithuania, they manage 39,000 hectares of organically certified arable land whilst developing sustainable AgTech farming practices. They employ over 1,200 people and are listed on the Lithuanian and Warsaw stock exchanges. AUGA’s Regenerative, organic model represents the future of farming, using Mother Earth as a template rather than an exploited resource.

What exactly does ‘organic’ mean? The word has been co-opted by high-end products with expensive branding; its significance often forgotten. The definition ‘simple and healthful and close to nature’ chimes pertinently and is reflected in AUGA’s farming practices. Through crop rotation, fed only with organic fertilizers (i.e., cow poo), soils are naturally enriched, more fertile and resistant to disease and erosion. Meanwhile, the average farmer is losing between 3-4 tonnes of topsoil per acre annually. Conventional monoculture crops are swapped for highly complex, biodiverse and resilient permaculture; using principles derived from whole systems thinking.

The AUGA team live by resourcefulness, creative thinking, continuous learning and solution finding. This feeds into the closed loop principle which they operate within. Put simply: nothing is wasted. Excess crops are used for cattle feed, straw goes to mushroom compost, livestock manure is used as fertilizer, biogas from poultry farming fuels machinery. Organic matter feeds organic matter.

AUGA’s organic model is profitable without contaminating, enhancing local ecosystems whilst yielding superior crops. Upholding the 5 P’s of the Positive Compass, Planet and Places are naturally preserved, whilst People and Partners flourish through producing and distributing the highest quality produce. With our degraded soils failing to grow nutrient dense food, bringing organic to the many is an esteemed Purpose. This year at Positive, we are especially committed to improving food systems and positively impacting the Food & Beverage industry.

It is time for us to recognise that if our soils are deficient, so are we. The bigger picture begs us to unreservedly shift to an organic, Regenerative system.


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