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.

_____________________

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.

The Creative Instinct

The Creative Instinct

During conversation with a friend, it became apparent that we were misaligned in our understanding of where creativity flows from.

I presupposed that creativity is a skill to be trained. My friend pointed out that creativity could be viewed as an instinct, a natural force to be directed. The distinction sounds small, but has profound implications.

Viewing creativity as a skill, there is essentially no assumed base proficiency – no internal baseline that all humans have within them. Training creativity in itself would yield marvellous world-changing ability. Some people would be driven to pursue creativity, and others would not.

Thinking of creativity as an instinct really brought on a paradigm shift for me. If creativity is an instinct, then all humans are driven by a desire to create. I’ll let that stand as a block quote because it’s fantastic.

All humans are driven by a desire to create.

Creativity is not something to be trained in itself, rather, it is something people find an outlet for, a way to channel. Practicing the techniques you choose as an outlet for your creativity becomes the way you strengthen your creative expression in the world.

The mode of creation can vary wildly between individuals. Some folks want to create change, others want to create good concrete mixtures, some want to create the best music scores, and others want to create perfect soundproofing. We’re all architects and builders though, regardless of what it is we’re building.

Some consider creativity to derive from both instinct and skill, or take influence from even more parameters. Notably, Francis Bacon is attributed with the following:

The creative process is a cocktail of instinct, skill, culture and a highly creative feverishness. It is not like a drug; it is a particular state when everything happens very quickly, a mixture of consciousness and unconsciousness, of fear and pleasure; it’s a little like making love, the physical act of love.

But then, philosophers are generally odd types.

There is something inspiringly beautiful about thinking of creativity as this tempestuous force from within, just fighting to find an exit, a way to express itself upon the world. It’s a strong mental image to keep.

Free Business Idea #2 – Pre-Filled Family Calendars (Physical)

Free Business Idea #2 – Pre-Filled Family Calendars (Physical)


You know those big A3 size family planners smacked up on the wall in every family household around the globe? You know, the ones that list everybody’s birthdays, school terms, afternoon activities and weekend trips. The one stop overview of a busy family.

They’re super cool, except for one time of the year – new year, when you have to go and get a new one. When you have to copy over every single birthday and recurring event specific to your family into the new planner.

So, there is pain. And luckily there is an easy solution.

You, the entrepreneur, may choose to enter this dying niche with some fresh perspective. The world is going online, but there is still some tech missing for us to bring all of our family planning into the cloud, and so there are a few good years of physical calendar sales to tap into. So how about a hybrid?

Set up a subscription based calendar service, where each family can enter all of the birthdays, planned holidays, term lengths for the kids, meditation weekends, family trips and other goodies they have planned, and save it as part of an online profile.

You then take this information and print and fulfil calendar shipments once each year on a subscription basis, saving your customers a day’s work of copy pasting, and making some smooth looking cal’s in the process.

 

Yes, there are rough edges, and no, the challenges are not insurmountable.

Go and make the future.

 

Not your cup of tea? How about Free Business Idea #1 – Niche Book Club / Publishing Gig ?

Effectuation Principles – Truth, Objectivity, and Motivation

Effectuation Principles – Truth, Objectivity, and Motivation

Effectuation principles, first introduced by this name in modern literature by Saras Sarasvathy, are powerful decision-making tools to employ when embarking on a quest of creation. Let us examine what we can glean through the lens of each principle
– which theories of truth are assumed?
– how objective can the creator be expected to be?
– from where does motivation spring?

This essay assumes a degree of free will and indeterminism.

The Bird In Hand Principle:

Start with what you have, and build what can be built. Do not attempt to reach an arbitrary goal, rather know that you would create, and look inwards for cues on how to proceed in your creation.

The very idea of synthesising a series of possible creative projects suggests a very variable view of truth. We can rule out correspondence truth theory immediately. It’s less important to find “the true” goal to work towards, and more important to start working towards *any* goal, thereby defining it as your own true goal. Starting with the creation of many possible paths and goals is, apart from rejecting the idea of a golden truth, also distinctly a-platonic in other ways. It suggests a disregard for the idea that we can model the world, and that instead we must create reality, not try to follow an inaccurate map of patently unknown territories.

Objectivity is non-existent in effectuation. Everything stems from the creator, including all of their bias.

So what motivates the creator to act? Considering that there is no tangible project goal in the beginning of the effectuation process, the answer lays beyond the framework. Possibly personal gain in the form of income, freedom, recognition, self-realisation or legacy, and possibly fulfilment of a responsibility towards humanity to move the species onwards and upwards. Since the motivations are extrinsic, the effectuation framework alone will never yield a single answer, and leaves room for many levels of motivation.

(On a separate note, the bird in hand principle is what makes this free business idea worth pursuing mainly for people who are super looped into the publishing business or book club business already!)

The Affordable Loss Principle:

What can *you* afford to lose? What are *you* willing to risk?

Any truth here is your own. Most people won’t be able to find any comfortable measure of willingness to lose.

Your motivations will play a major part in interpreting this principle. Are you in this world to ensure that future generations move on to bigger and better things? Is there any price too great to pay for that? Or are you just looking for some well-deserved recognition? In this case, the price you’re willing to pay would be a lot lower!

The Crazy Quilt Principle & The Lemonade principle:

Build trust, drive involvement. Find people who can be committed to your goals. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Not revolutionary concepts to be sure.

The principles don’t lend us much in the way of new information for our original question, either.

The Pilot-in-the-plane principle:

The future is not predictable (Taleb would be proud, screw models). However, some tools to alter the future are within the creator’s control. These tools are, of course, encompassed by the 4 other principles of effectuation. So, there is some correspondence-truth at play, since effectuation principles are defined as your absolute best tools for manipulating the outcomes of your creative venture.

Why you do all of this is still totally up to you. Your motivations are your own, as a creator. And objectivity? As pilot in your own plane, there is none 🙂