Sourcing Matters is a talkshow for critical issues and the wonderful stories woven into our food system. Broadcasting from the Northeast U.S. - we host less-than-an-hour conversations with interesting characters from all over the globe. Visit our dialogues library to hear more from these folks making all kinds of good things happen.
Chatting-up leaders focused on food system reform and reducing our environmental imprint, host Aaron Niederhelman examines both the problems and solutions paramount, and opportune, with feeding ourselves on a shrinking planet.
"We engage in short dialogues with visionaries who know how to spin some yarn" explains Niederhelman. Often eccentric and diverse in background, when these folks share their stories about our food, good and bad, it's clear we must listen. Niederhelman continues, "These conversations give us hope, and a chance to think differently about our food."
As you'll hear from each engaging guest, there are many values to be gained by acting now in properly shepherding the inherited bounty and growing burden tied to regenerative natural resource management. Sourcing Matters sets to tap the emotional side of food by sharing these stories from those fighting for a better you.
Ep. 97: Rebecca Henderson - Harvard Business School Professor & Author
Ep. 97: Rebecca Henderson - Harvard Business School Professor & Author || For episode 97 we welcome Professor and author Rebecca Henderson. Henderson is the John & Natty McArthur University Professor at Harvard University, where she has a joint appointment at the Harvard Business School in the General Management and Strategy units. Professor Henderson is also a research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. She spent the first 21 years of her career at MIT, much of it as the Eastman Kodak Professor of Management. Additionally, she teaches 'Reimagining Capitalism' in the HBS MBA Program and sits on the boards of Amgen and of IDEXX Labs.
For today’s show we focus the discussion on the engine of environmental change - the economy. Professor Henderson has recently released the book “Reimagining Capitalism - In a World on Fire” - which borrows from the name of a course she teaches at Harvard Business School. As she explains, "I am convinced that we have a secret weapon. I spent twenty years of my life working with firms that were trying to transform themselves. I learned that having the right strategy was important, and that redesigning the organization was also critical. But mostly I learned that these were necessary but not sufficient conditions. The firms that mastered change were those that had a reason to do so: the ones that had a purpose greater than simply maximizing profits. People who believe that their work has a meaning beyond themselves can accomplish amazing things, and we have the opportunity to mobilize shared purpose at a global scale."
In our 45 minute discussion we cover stakeholder value vs. shareholder value. We learn about the role that companies and executives will have in environmental action and social responsibility in the near future. Additionally, we discuss food systems, regenerative natural resource management and how politics gets woven into this recipe of change. For those fans of water and environmental service marketplaces out there, hear Professor Henderson's recommendation for sending a new price signal through the novel notion of 'embodied water', and gain a deeper understanding for how markets will evolve to integrate more of these values into buy decisions.
Joining as co-host for the conversation is Dutch-American Agricultural Economist, Renée Vassilos. Vassilos has spent over fifteen years in the production agriculture space. Her work experience includes time spent with the USDA, she’s started her own consultancy to help investors and Agtech companies, and she spent nearly a decade with John Deere; with much of that time in Beijing. Last year, Renée joined The Nature Conservancy as their Agriculture Innovation Director. She manages TNC’s investments in early stage agtech companies that will support regenerative agriculture production at scale.
We all seek new mechanisms to coax values through the supply chain of food and its production. Tune in to ep. 97 to hear from an expert about engaging with diverse stakeholders to partake in a new economic system; a reimagined economic system that takes into account a true cost of production by reaping the benefits for product differentiation and decommoditization of these values.
Ep. 96: Margaret O'Gorman - Wildlife Habitat Council
Ep. 96: Margaret O’Gorman – President of Wildlife Habitat Council || For episode 96 we welcome the President of the Wildlife Habitat Foundation, Margaret O’Gorman. O’Gorman operates at the intersection of business and nature. As President of the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC), she helps companies find value in natural resources conservation and mainstream biodiversity across operations. She has worked with Toyota, Owens Corning, Exelon, CRH Americas, General Motors and many more, and led the design of WHC’s signature Conservation Certification(R) recognition, a voluntary sustainability standard which defines corporate conservation worldwide.
For 30 years The Wildlife Habitat Council has been promoting and certifying habitat conservation and management on working lands through partnerships and education. As the only international conservation NGO focused exclusively on the private sector, WHC provides a framework for voluntary conservation action on a wide variety of corporate lands. Wildlife Habitat Council corporate members represent some of the leading national and multinational corporations seeking to support sustainable ecosystems and the communities that surround them. These efforts have resulted in more than 1,000 certified programs across 48 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and 29 countries.
In our 45 minute discussion we learn more about the work of Margaret and her WHC team. We hear about successful projects already completed, and the vast opportunities that business has for stabilizing the planet through a deeper commitment to mitigating climate and investing in biodiversity. Margaret explains the difference between a ‘Shareholder’ & ‘Stakeholder’ value creation; and what that means for the future of investing-in, and operating the businesses providing our goods and services. We also learn how O’Gorman’s recently released book – Strategic Corporate Conservation Planning: A Guide to Meaningful Engagement – has been received by her peers and followers.
Tune-In to hear about what business can do for you, and the planet in the near future.
Ep. 95: Paul Hawken - Project Drawdown
Ep. 95: Paul Hawken – environmentalist, entrepreneur, author, and activist ||
For episode 95 of Sourcing Matters we welcome environmentalist, entrepreneur, author and activist Paul Hawken to the show. Paul has dedicated his life to environmental sustainability and changing the relationship between business and the environment. Hawken is a leading voice in the environmental movement, and a pioneering architect of corporate reform with respect to ecological practices. Paul authors articles, op-eds, and peer-reviewed papers, and has written eight books including five national bestsellers. He has appeared in diverse media outlets including the Today Show, Bill Maher, Talk of the Nation, Charlie Rose, and has been profiled or featured in hundreds of articles including the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, The Washington Post, Business Week, Esquire, and US News & World Report. Paul is a dynamic public speaker, and he has served on the board of many environmental organizations.
Paul Hawken is founder of Project Drawdown, a non-profit dedicated to researching when and how global warming can be reversed. The organization maps and models the scaling of one hundred substantive technological, social, and ecological solutions to global warming. The book, which Paul helped write and edited, describes 100 solutions of change, 80 of which are currently in practice. To clarify – ‘Drawdown’ is the point at which the concentration of greenhouse gases begins to decline. The solutions in the book are ranked by the number of gigatons of CO2, or the equivalent, that they would avoid or sequester between the years 2020 and 2050. They range from big difference-makers such as refrigerant management, wind turbines, and food waste to those that are important but not as impactful, including methane digesters, green roofs, and microgrids..
In our 45 minute discussion we learn from Paul that our only future is regenerative. In fact, our quickest and most pragmatic approach get to the goals of Project Drawdown is to evolve our land management practices in the way we produce our food. Paul explains, that now tooled with modern data analysis and peer-reviewed science supporting regenerative agriculture – investing in soil health is the #1 way to reverse climate change – “by a factor of four or five – SOIL is the largest solution.”
We learn of Paul’s current work “Regeneration – ending the climate crisis in one generation” – expected release in 2021. We also learn about some of Paul’s business ventures. Food, garden and energy – all within his sweet spot. We hear a bit about Erewhon, one of the first natural food companies in the U.S. that relied solely on sustainable agricultural methods. Additionally, Hawken co-founded Smith & Hawken, the retail and catalog garden company. In 2009 Paul founded OneSun, an energy company focused on ultra low-cost solar based on green chemistry and biomimicry that is now known as Energy Everywhere.
Joining as cohost is Dutch-American Agricultural Economist- Renée Vassilos. Renée recently joined The Nature Conservancy as their Agriculture Innovation Director. She manages TNC’s investments in early stage agtech companies that will support regenerative agriculture production – at scale. Vassilos spent over fifteen years in the production agriculture space. Her work experience includes time spent with the USDA, she’s started her own consultancy to help investors and Agtech companies, and she spent nearly a decade with John Deere; much of that time in Beijing.
Tune-in to hear what this soothsayer has to say about what’s next for us and the planet.
Ep. 94: Han de Groot - CEO, Rainforest Alliance
Ep. 94: Han de Groot – CEO, Rainforest Alliance, -ft. cohost: Mike Bellamente – former Executive Direstor of Climate Counts || For Sourcing Matter ep. 94 we welcome Han de Groot, CEO of Rainforest Alliance. The ‘Rainforest Alliance Certified Seal’ is awarded to farms, forests, and businesses that meet rigorous environmental and social standards. Rainforest Alliance operates in 60 countries all over the globe with focus on certifying in five program areas: 1) Sustainable forestry certification, 2) Sustainable agriculture certification, 3) Crop standards and criteria, 4) Rainforest Alliance Certified Seal, 5) Sustainable tourism.
In our 45 minute discussion we learn just how consumers can make accurate and just buy decisions in an increasingly noisy world. Hear Han’s empowerment message to us all: as environmentalists – we use our dollars to vote for the planet through the food we buy. As more trusted scientific resources explain it’ll much comes down to the agriculture systems we employ to feed ourselves moving forward, being an environmentalist 3-times daily is a strong rallying cry which has yet to be fully exercise in diverse food categories. The time seems now.
Han has dedicated his career to sustainable development. After studying economics at the University of Wageningen, he worked for more than 12 years at Oxfam Novib, eventually leading the organization’s work in Eastern and Southern Africa. In 1998 Han joined the Dutch government. From 2005 to 2010, he held various positions at the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, including Deputy Director for Nature. Joining as co-host in episode 94 is Mike Bellamente. Mike invested many years helming Gary Hirshberg’s environmental accountability organization. As former Executive Director at Climate Counts Mike gained traction and the attention of huge brands, and over 20K high-impact followers. Bellamente lead this third-party certifier of Green/Sustainable corporate practice into the mainstream – via the wallets and ideology of consumers who care. Mike now uses his developing company ‘Naked Bullfrog’ to empower more consumer engagement throughout their local & regional communities.
It’s been proven; “Natural Climate Solutions” are our cleanest, most pragmatic, and most cost effective way forward. Investing in what Jeremy Grantham has coined as “Natural Capital” – the regenerative soils, tree health, clean oceans, and biodiversity through a paradigm shift in land management is where mankind can be a catalyst in climate stability. Bringing that to the market through something as intimate to us as the food we eat is where Han and team play. As more of us adopt this power to vote with the dollars we spend, I have great hope for what we can all do through food to invest in healthy body and planet.
Ep. 93: Rep. Jim McGovern - Congressman MA 2nd
Ep. 93: Congressman Jim McGovern, US Rep. Massachusetts 2nd -ft. cohost: Scott Soares, former Mass Ag Commish & shellfish leader || For episode 93 we welcome US Congressman from the Massachusetts 2nd district, Jim McGovern. Representative McGovern’s district ranges from Worcester to the Pioneer Valley, and includes a good portion of the Connecticut River – the lifeblood for much of the state’s remaining dairy & orchard infrastructure. McGovern’s district also includes the Quabbin Reservoir – the largest inland body of water in the State – which also happens to supply Boston and much of the metro area with crystal clear, world class drinking water.
On the Hill, Congressman McGovern is the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Nutrition, and House Committee on Agriculture. Rep. McGovern is also a member of the national dairy and cranberry caucuses. Jim is an evangelist for food access and nutrition. He’s a leading voice for farmland, and natural land preservation – and not just for the Commonwealth, but through large federal programs that impact the entire country.
Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA) is also a co-sponsor of ‘The Green New Deal’ with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA). Through-out the conversation we hear about Representative McGovern’s view on the future of federal policies to support a stable country and planet. Could sequestering carbon into farmland be our saving grace? Could the USDA and the US Government lead the way?
In our 45 minute discussion we look at the future of food and its production through a federal lens, as well as for the 1800 farms in his home district in Massachusetts. We discuss both the positive steps forward in the latest version of the farm bill, as well as some of the intrinsic problems of this huge and glacial policy bucket. We look at the discrepancies in supporting big vs. small farms. It was recently announced that US Farm income hit $88 Billion – the highest since 2014. But, nearly 40% of that 2019 farm income income will come from federal aid. Much of that has been tied to disaster assistance, and aid for the current trade war. But, Chapter 12 farm bankruptcies are up 24% over the last year, at their highest levels since 2011. That’s the crux of the issue – big farms are getting paid, and small farms are going out of business. Hear how this can change!
Joining in as cohost is Scott Soares. Soares is former commissioner of Agriculture in Massachusetts, and served as the Director of USDA Rural Development for Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island for the Obama administration. Scott has 15 years of fishery and aquaculture experience prior to that – including early in his career serving as the 1st Massachusetts coordinator of aquaculture for nearly a decade. Soares has recently returned to these roots by taking on the role of the Mass Shellfish Initiative coordinator. Scott and Congressman McGovern are good friends, and that quickly becomes evident only a few minutes into our chat. We try to keep the conversation lively and upbeat, while still evaluating important subject matter.
So, if you want to hear how systems thinking connects food, health and stability. Or, if you want to know more about how farm raised fish in land based RAS systems could regulated and propagated by the USDA. Or, if you want to learn more about the perils of New England dairy, and what can be done about it. Or, how hemp is an agricultural product for medication, fiber and material sciences to replace plastics – tune-in to learn more about what’s going on in Massachusetts’s 2nd, and on the Hill.
Ep. 92: Bill Taylor - Atlantic Salmon Federation, CEO & President
Ep. 92: Bill Taylor – President & CEO of the Atlantic Salmon Federation || We welcome Bill Taylor – President & CEO of the world renowned conservation organization – Atlantic Salmon Federation. Est. in 1948 – the Federation is dedicated to the conservation, protection and restoration of wild Atlantic salmon and the ecosystems on which their well being and survival depend.
In 2011, the Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) commissioned a report to calculate the economic impact for Atlantic Salmon in eastern Canada. The results presented $255 million annually – and supported 4000 jobs. Relating to the success of project one article explained “in our political climate, money talks, and government tends to invest in industries that provide economic benefits and jobs to communities.”
In our 45 minute discussion we cover many areas of interest for fishermen, eaters and environmentalists. You'll hear how ASF is a world-leading science and advocacy organization that has long-since been dedicated to conserving and restoring wild Atlantic salmon. You’ll learn how the ASF seeks to expand upon current programs, and explore improving farming practices of salmon to benefit diverse stakeholders – including open run fish.
Just last year Bill and his international team brokered a very important deal to preserve the sanctity of salmon in the wild. A landmark, 12-year agreement with Greenland Fisherman to suspend the commercial harvest of Salmon, and limit the quota to 20 ton subsistence quota. This deal saves thousands of virile adult salmon every year.
Co-hosting the episode is Aaron’s father, Byron Niederhelman. With an undergrad in biology, and a Masters from Northeastern University – Byron taught Biology and Earth Science for 19 years. For 13 year more he was the Principal of ConVal High School in Peterborough, NH. Byron is an avid sportsman who for the past 25 years has been a busy traveler in search of the world’s best fishing spots.
Are salmon truly the canary-in-the-coal-mine? Is their demise an accurate reflection of the health of our waterways and marine environments? If we want to preserve the natural migratory paths of animals – why not start with this iconic keystone species? Could cleaning up farming practices establish cash-flow to invest back into the natural environment for natural cousins? We answer these questions and more on episode 92 of Sourcing Matters.
Byron Niederhelman Background in Biology Former Educator & Principal Avid Traveler & Fisherman Full bio:
With an undergrad in Biology, a Masters from Northeastern University, Byron Niederhelman taught Biology and Earth Science for 19 years, and was for 13 years the Principal of the ConVal High School in Peterborough, NH. Byron is an avid sportsman, and for the last 25 years he’s been a busy traveler in search of the world’s best fishing spots.
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Great insights from across industries and sectors!
Thank you for this Aaron. It’s important to hear these broad ranging conversations about our food and health system.