Future-foods – biodynamic, organic, wholesome

Future-foods – biodynamic, organic, wholesome

The global population has never been larger, and while global population growth is leveling off (https://www.ted.com/playlists/474/the_best_hans_rosling_talks_yo go educate yourself), humanity still faces multiple enormous challenges in feeding so many hungry mouths.

Credit to https://ourworldindata.org

Global agricultural yield is now high enough that nobody needs to starve, and the most problematic situation in terms of sheer volume is simply distribution. However, the massive improvements in yield volumes have brought with them a new set of ethical challenges. Just like designer babies and bio-medically augmented humans, speedy advances in crop yield and livestock poundage and growth require immediate considerations about where to draw lines and limits.

Biodynamic agriculture is one paradigm that provides partial aid in making those decisions. Today’s post is a discussion of the clash between biodynamic, holistic agriculture, and the perceived need for advancing yield and minimising effort.

To try out a new post format I’ve invited Mona Lund Hedeager to participate in an ad-hoc interview setting, a specialist in innovation and part of the Hedeager family agro-business – centred around biodynamic principles.

Check out her take on biodynamics, progress and whether there’s a conflict.

Question:
Hvad does “biodynamic” mean to you? Why is it worth working with?

Answer:
For me, it represents a lifestyle. I know that when something is marked with the Demeter-symbol (editor’s comment: The Demeter symbol marks a product as biodynamic similarly to how organic goods are marked), extra care has been taken to ensure the wellbeing of animals, environment and climate. All things that benefit humans in the long run. That’s why I see biodynamics as a positive cycle. When we watch out for the “organism” of Earth, it reaps rewards for both animals and people.

In biodynamic agriculture there’s space for diversity – so we don’t use any pesticides to kill unwanted plants and animals, and we avoid artificially provoking enhanced growth rates of specific life forms. Instead we use general-purpose fertiliser.

When working with biodynamics, you get to take part in something greater, a social responsibility. You strengthen the bond between helath, food, and humans. Oh, and bio foods are not just healthier, they’re tastier – something largely achieved through slower growth rates, packing in more taste and nutrition.

Question:
Hedeagergaard switched to fully biodynamic in 2011. Until that time, I presume you did business with commendable respect for the animals. So why the change? What differences did you see?

Answer:
In 1998 we switched from conventional to organic, and in 2011 we took the next step onwards and upwards to biodynamics. The change helped us to feel more balance at the farm. A lot of the tighter regulations required to meet the aforementioned Demeter standard were in line with the values of the farm and household anyway, so it was a natural step.

Animal welfare has always been one of the driving values at the farm. Requirements like “dehorning cattle is forbidden, as it impacts the quality of life as well as the quality of milk” are really easy for us to follow. Cows simply need enough space that their horns aren’t an issue, so we simply maintain a lower population.

That means less volume and less revenue, but it’s balanced by higher margins.

Question:
When farming biodynamically, or using biodynamic principles on top of organics, the yield is reduced as compared to “conventional” agriculture. That means less edible product, and keep in mind that some regions there’s still not enough food to go around. Without a vegetarian revolution it’s impossible to convert all agriculture to biodynamics, due to a lack of space. What are your thoughts on these challenges?

Answer:
My answer would be “prioritisation”.

We have experimented with our meat and we agree that the biodynamic meat is both more nutritious and tastes of more. We’re hearing the same from our customers. So we’d say that the amount required falls and the quality rises. Often, supermarket meats are fatty, or pumped up with water to make them seem larger. We don’t want pull stunts like that, we just want to focus on selling real, clean, quality product.

Question:
Does being in contact with the earth and animals influence your creative work?

Answer:
As a student, it’s limited how often I get to work on the farm with earth and animals. It makes me happier to work with sustainable projects. Sustainability is a personal value for me, that I enjoy working with.


Thanks to Mona Lund Hedeager for taking time out to answer these questions and shed some light on biodynamics from the inside. Check out http://hedeager.info/ for a look at what a biodynamic farm can do with online presence.

Summary:
Since our issues with feeding the population are more related to distribution that yield, we still have the choice to prioritise how we run farmlands, even though it means less yield. Combined with a more plant based diet, this approach can take us far.

Also – check out Global Agro-Science and How We’re Not Killing The Planet for more takes on earth, growth, and future.

3 Quick Creative Thinking Activities

3 Quick Creative Thinking Activities

Everybody can be creative. An artist is no more inherently creative than an accountant, despite the stereotypes we have affixed the two roles. The only difference is the amount of practice with letting that creativity out. In that spirit, here are a bunch of ways for you to practice creativity in your everyday work, to get better results.

Before you dive straight in to the creative thinking exercises, it might be a great idea to read up on convergent and divergent thinking. It’s important that you tease out the good principles behind each generated idea before you kill it. The rule you need to remember is pretty simple – don’t throw out any ideas, no matter how bad they seem. The throwing out process can begin when you’re done generating and grabbing the good bits from your ideas. So without further ado, some simple creative thinking activities:

Be Someone Else

This exercise is pretty easy, and applicable to any work you could possibly be doing. It does require some empathy, so perhaps it won’t work if you’re a little psycho 😉

To perform this creative thinking activity, simply think of someone you admire, for any reason. Imagine that person has to do the job you’re doing right now. How would they do it differently? How would they do it better?

Some examples:
A truck driver who really likes David Beckham. How might David Beckham get from A to B in a truck? Well, on the pitch, a great player is determined by how much of a team player he is. So, in the spirit of team-play, how about a world where all truckers assist each other with wind-resistance, through a tight setup of caravanning, just like a pro cycling team? How much fuel might that save? Is it an idea worth throwing at management? Quite possibly!

A designer working at a marketing agency, who really likes Mike Tyson. What would Mike do, if he was set to work on digital marketing design? The brain is a massive associative machine, and right away you can probably picture the enormous muscle-bound man sitting at a 13″ macbook air doing graphic design. Seems dissonant somehow. Nonetheless, there are some things Mike would definitely do differently. First off, he’d introduce his special brand of self-deprecating humour to whatever was being communicated. Also, perhaps he’d alter the process in favour of a speedy hand-off, so perhaps making sure to send out an extra mock-up or two, to ensure he was still tracking right.

This method works with your brain’s fantastic ability to connect the dots, stereotyping (the good kind), and by providing creative constraints.

Imagine you had unlimited/0 budget

What happens if you have to do your work with no resources? What about if you have access to unlimited resources? Unlimited resources probably gets you thinking in terms of automation/robotics and 0 budget probably gets you thinking about sourcing cheaper to earn a higher margin.Pursue this for a bit. Especially thinking outside of economic constraint, as this lets you consider more deeply why your work is structured the way it is.

Play with words

In exercise #1, we used empathy and stereotypes to kickstart the brain’s associative machinery. In this exercise we’ll just use a simple list of words. How you generate the words is totally up to you, but go for nouns. If you don’t fancy generating a list of odd words, here’s one for free:

Fish – Pork – Potion – Castle – Peanut – Road – Park – Plastic – Brick – Ruins – Knife – Staircase – Knight – King

Now, the process is simple. Pair the task you have at hand, with the words in the list, one at a time. Remember to extend the meaning of the words to be non-literal. So, if you’re trying to invent a new type of soup, and you pair that with fish – don’t invent a fish-soup. Instead, expand into the word fish. There’s some saltiness, some freedom. There’s caviar/luxury. Fish-eyes, so perhaps your soup can should have a peep hole. See the idea? Let your brain associate, it’s super good at it.

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Those were 3 quick and easy creativity exercises, which you can expand infinitely or use as they stand in different contexts. These tools are valuable if you are looking for a business idea too, and are partially how these to business ideas were generated: Great business idea #1Great business idea #2

There are a bunch of other tools for ungluing your creativity, just comment if you want more, I’ll make this post much longer.