Investing in Food for Health @ Crusonia Forum

Dirt to Dinner is pleased to have Carter Williams contribute his knowledge and expertise to our site. Carter Williams is CEO and Managing Partner of iSelect Funds, an early-stage venture firm investing in companies addressing critical global issues. Carter has spent his entire career working on innovation as an engineer at McDonnell Douglas, then at Boeing managing R&D and starting Boeing Ventures. After Boeing, he was President of Gridlogix, which was later bought by Johnson Controls.

Prior to leading iSelect, Carter served as Senior Managing Director at Progress Partners, an energy and technology investment banking firm, and was a Managing Partner at Open Innovation Ventures and a Director at Clayton Capital Partners. Carter is the past President and Founder of the MIT Corporate Venturing Consortium and Co-founder of the MIT Entrepreneurship Society. He has an M.B.A. from the MIT Sloan School and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Crusonia Forum Brings Together the Changemakers Driving the Future of Food

“We are here to showcase a new wave of companies that are effectively applying technology to improve, disrupt, and transform agriculture, food and health for the better. We have no idea if a future Amazon is in our midst today, but looking back on it we really had no idea that Amazon would be what it has become.

“In 1996, we just stuck to our belief that the effective, focused and thoughtful application of technology was going to lead to something very big, something very important, and most importantly something better. And we were right.”

With those words, Crusonia executive producer Paul Noglows kicked off Crusonia Forum BKLYN 2021, which brought together the investors, entrepreneurs and thought leaders transforming the global food system.

From the roof of Brooklyn Grange, one of the largest rooftop farming companies in the U.S. with 135,000 square feet of cultivated rooftop space across New York City, Noglows and the iSelect team spent the day discussing food innovations, changing consumer demands, new agtech products and more, with presentations from 15 companies working on solutions in each of these areas and more.

This is all happening because, in the U.S., the cost of treating food-related diseases has begun to exceed the cost of the food itself. We spend about $1.6 trillion a year in the United States on food. We spend between $500 billion and $1 trillion on nutrition-related health care. We’re eating ourselves to death and then trying to medicate ourselves out of it, and it’s not working. Diet-related diseases like diabetes, obesity, heart disease and more are among the leading causes of death every year with no signs of slowing down.

The challenge for innovators is solving these two problems — unhealthy eating and expensive healthcare — at once.

The good news is that consumers are clearly ready for change: 39% are actively trying to incorporate more plant-based food into their diet and 67% are open to changing their eating habits that adversely impact the environment. But transforming the global food system for the better can only be accomplished through increased innovation, education and investment.

As iSelect CEO Carter Williams explained: “The world’s population is going to reach 9.8 billion by 2050, and that’s happening because people are living longer. We’re also seeing billions more people moving into the global middle class, and when that happens they want to eat differently. They want to be healthier. They don’t want to eat carbohydrates all the time any longer, they want protein. But protein production is not terribly efficient — two and a half pounds of protein needs to go into the pig to give you a pound of pig to eat.”

That’s just the beginning of the inefficiencies of today’s food system. Based on healthcare spending for diet-related diseases, buying a hamburger today for $1.70 could turn into a lifetime cost of $1.90 for the impacts of that burger over time. The disconnect there shows up in the debate around “fixing” healthcare.

Rather than simply changing how we pay for healthcare or how much those services cost, the way to fix healthcare is to fix the food we eat.

That will reduce the need for expensive healthcare down the road and create a $3.6 trillion market that is going to be transformed over the next 20 years, as today’s small startups grow into the leaders of a new food system.

Here are some highlights from the forum, as well as the presenting companies offering solutions in the space: 

The Next Investment Arbitrage: Food Is Health

Carter Williams: “We have two food systems in the United States today. The first was the very practical system established after World War II. The goal in those days was global stability and feeding a growing population by producing vast amounts of food cheaply, largely based on corn and soy. The second system is more focused on fresh, nutritious foods but access is limited because it costs so much to produce those products today.

“The notion of the future food system is one that is high yield, tasty and nutritious — so that people will want to eat it — but it has to be able to scale. So the question is: how do you get the price down? Innovation is a fundamental, deflationary force that will drive down those costs and create a system that is better and cheaper, more protein-dense with fewer carbohydrates.”


How Did We Get Here? Food System Evolution

Nancy Roman, President and CEO, Partnership for a Healthier America: “We are in the midst of a dynamic, societal revolution in food that will no doubt bring changes to American life as big as the cotton gin and the steam engine. But, as with every transformation in human history, along with new possibilities come consequences, some intended and some unintended.

“We are aware of the incredible power of food to build or destroy our health. I know that those of you who are together today are coming at this from different angles. Some of you lead food companies, others are investors, but all of us are thinking about the future. I challenge you, wherever you sit, to not go into this next decade of change without asking what you can do to keep the connection between food and health front and center.”

“As we innovate in and around agriculture, as we learned painfully the last time around, it is also very difficult to come back and correct the unintended consequences later.

So let’s be intentional now, and don’t hesitate to reach out if you have an idea of how we can drive food equity in this country further faster.”


Food is Health: What’s Your Fix?

Robert H. Lustig, M.D., M.S.L., Professor emeritus of Pediatrics, Division of Endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco: “You probably know that Dannon and Unilever underwent a sugar reduction exercise in the last year and they both touted their success at removing 14% of the added sugar from their portfolio. Well, I’m working with an international food conglomerate called KDD, Kuwaiti Danish Dairy, and they sell sugar in various forms. They sell it in yogurt. They sell it in ice cream. They sell it in juice. They sell it in tomato sauce. As part of my work with them, we have convened a scientific panel and we have determined that we are going to be able to get 78% of the added sugar out of their products by next year. 

“And the reason we can do that is because KDD is not on any stock exchange. It’s privately held. That’s the reason. We’re going to serve as a model for the rest of the food industry. Any food company can do this, but you need data science to analyze every single item in the catalog in order to figure out what’s actually in the food. What do we have to fix? Do we have to get rid of cadmium out of the cocoa? Do we have to get rid of rBST? Do we have to get rid of mercury glyphosate? What sugars need to come out?”


“We’ll be able to actually put data science to work to completely not just to re-engineer, but re-imagine entire food companies. You cannot solve a problem if you don’t know what the problem is.”

Investing in Food Is Health: The View from Wall Street

Brian Holland, Managing Director & Senior Analyst, Cowen: “I think education is the biggest key. An example that comes to mind as far as a segment that has differentiated itself is plant-based beverages because there’s a need state there. Upwards of 80% of consumers in Asia, for instance, are lactose intolerant. So there’s a need state that exists. There’s a value proposition. And that’s ahead of plant-based meat from a merchandising and quality standpoint. Certainly, the plant-based meat space has made tremendous strides to improve the quality in the past decade, but plant-based beverages have been a little bit ahead of that.

“And then again, it goes back to size and scale. Until we get to a point of mainstreaming we can’t think about the consumer treating these products differently or consuming them differently.

“Right now we can define the baskets of alternative products around which everyone’s competing, but ultimately we need to see how the consumers behave once they are better educated about these products.

“Right now I know these products are cleaner. I know they’re more sustainable. I’m making a decision based off of that myself. When we start to see that happen more broadly is when consumers will start to look at these products as being different from the incumbents.”

Panel on investment opportunities and challenges in Food is Health. Left to right: Carter Williams, CEO, iSelect; Sanjeev Krishnan, Chief Investment Officer, S2G Ventures; Matt Crisp, CEO & Co-founder, Benson Hill; David Lee, President, AppHarvest.

Learn more about Crusonia Forum and register for future events at

Toigo’s Transition from Tomatoes to Cannabis

On the run? LISTEN to our post!

If you wanted to visit Toigo Orchards a few years ago, you could have driven out to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and pulled down the long drive of the 106-acre farm. You’d see workers freely coming in and out of the unlocked doors of five acres of greenhouses surrounded by organic peach trees. No one would stop you, or mind you were there.

Today, the friendly nature of Toigo Orchards remains, but there’s also a massive security presence. Unlocked doors are replaced by security guards and checkpoints. High fences, controlled access gates, and 24/7 video surveillance greet you upon arrival. Entry to the farm now requires everyone entering to go through rigorous protocols. Badge access is required for all workers. Visitors must leave their driver’s license with friendly security guards for the duration of the visit.

Why such a dramatic change in so short a time? Proprietor Mark Toigo says the high-tech security is all part of a business decision he was forced to make when low-cost foreign tomatoes flooded the organic market in the mid-Atlantic states – nearly bankrupting his decades-long greenhouse tomato business. To save his struggling farm from the glut, Toigo converted his tomato crops to cannabis.

The move not only helped save his generational family farm but may also save lives. Mark not only grows cannabis for use in medical marijuana but has also partnered with major Philadelphia hospitals to research pain management and opioid reduction.

The boy who grew up amongst the organic fruit trees covering the majority of his acreage (his cannabis operation is surrounded by a peach orchard) didn’t expect to find himself the entrepreneur of a small cannabis empire. But, the markets, Mexico, and a few knowledgeable Canadians helped him realize it was time to forge a new high-tech and highly entrepreneurial path in farming.

From Farmers’ Market to Farm-to-Table

Mark began farm-life young when he would work in his parents’ orchard. The Toigos were successfully selling a variety of conventionally grown apples, peaches, strawberries, and other seasonal tree fruit at local farmers’ markets. Thanks to their farm’s proximity to Washington, D.C., the Toigos were one of the first farmers to tap into the burgeoning local food movement in the city. The family’s success helped them expand business north to farmers’ markets in New York City.

When Mark became an adult and started running the farm, he expanded his selling season beyond summer fruit. He began cultivating greenhouse tomatoes “just to give us something to sell earlier in the season.”

“We started with hydroponics,” Toigo said. “It extended our ability to sell and keep more people around. We could do a fall crop, and we had them in the wintertime too, so that was a big, big change for us in how we worked.”

Soon, Mark found himself at the forefront of the farm-to-table movement just as it was taking off in the late 1990s and early 2000s. “We started to really cultivate relationships with customers over a long time, and we really got much, much better at growing diverse food items, Mark said. “We were specialty growing just for farmers markets and restaurants.”

That’s when the local retailers started to sit up and take notice. That’s when Mark decided to switch from conventionally grown tomatoes to organic. At the same time, he raced to build a farm infrastructure that could provide his locally grown organic tomatoes to grocery chains in the mid-Atlantic states.

A Glut In the Market

Mark says it took a lot of time, money, and effort to get certified organic.

His operation was the only greenhouse producer on the East Coast, giving him a competitive edge. But then, there was a shift in supply.

According to Mark, producers from Mexico began exporting organic tomatoes to the mid-Atlantic retailers and created a glut in the marketplace. Suddenly, Toigo says he was losing profit.

“Now we’re forced to sign larger supply agreements, but we’re not holding water,” Toigo explains. “You know what retailers we had a supply contract with said they were going to pay what we were promised, and then what we were getting paid was not the reality.”

The retailers that Tiogo had contracts with shifted their supply strategy to include
Mexican tomatoes. “They want you when the price is right. Not necessarily when there’s a harvest and you have to move your product.  So it does become a contentious kind of thing that takes place between buyers and growers; as much as retailers want to promote their steadfast dedication to the local, you can get banged up in the process a lot.

When Mexican producers flooded the organic heirloom market, Mark says he tried to stay afloat by growing different variations. But foreign producers quickly caught on and he couldn’t grow enough tomatoes to sell for commercial volume at a profitable price point.

“And so we started getting a lot of pressure from our buyers telling us, “I’ll buy more organic from you if you can beat Mexico’s price.” Toigo said this was about more than profit. “What the heck’s that have to do with local?” Mark wondered about the retailers’ request for Toigo Organics to match foreign prices.

“I mean everything you’re selling to the consumer is the concept that you’re supporting the local growers, the food system as a whole. But the reality is, you know, you’re buying some of our product, but most other producers are not even growing in America.”

Toigo calls it a form of greenwashing.

“Farming is historically a cultural event, it’s not an occupation to speak, you have to grow into it, and you have to have a really good relationship between you and your partners, because not every season is going to be a good one. And they have to be able to pull you through when you’re having a bad time, and you got to take care of them when you’re having a good year too.”

Helpful Canadians

Toigo says he finally saw the writing on the wall after working with “world-class horticulturalists” from Canada. They recommend Toigo switch his greenhouse operations from tomatoes to cannabis. The Canadian government had legalized marijuana for medical use in 2001.

Since then, Canadian farmers had been perfecting cannabis-growing techniques for nearly twenty years. They saw in Mark’s tomato greenhouses the perfect equivalencies to growing cannabis and encouraged him to convert. Canadian horticulturalists encouraged Toigo to make the switch and helped him convert his greenhouses.

“So, in the cannabis space you’re either an indoor grow, or you’re a greenhouse grow, you could be hybrid too, but we are truly a greenhouse grower,” Mark explained.

“Some of my friends up in Canada started getting into cannabis cultivation. They just started switching from tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers or whatever they happen to grow, and they migrated into cannabis.”

Mark followed suit. Cannabis, Toigo found, had many similar attributes to the tomatoes business.

As with his tomato business, Toigo was able to use cannabis and grow his own product, market it, and build a transportation business around it.

“We felt like we are really well aligned to be able to do it because we already had the right people,” Mark told D2D. “We were already doing a lot of this work; now we’re just doing it with cannabis. The parallels are really profound. Now we’re just doing it with a different commodity.”

The one thing that didn’t translate from tomato to cannabis was how it reaches the end-user. Cannabis, even for medical use, has some of the most stringent regulations in all of agriculture. With tomatoes, Toigo was selling directly into retail grocery chains, restaurants, or farmer’s markets. With cannabis, Toigo decided to open his own dispensaries and use his transportation business to send his product to other dispensaries in Pennsylvania. Toigo is proud of how he has vertically integrated his business and intends to grow it in the coming years.

Environmental Impact

Toigo says he’s committed to ensuring his facility has not only the healthiest growing environment possible for his farm but for the entire community. His first step was to ensure the CO2 produced during cannabis production at the backside of their burners is captured. That captured carbon is then fed back into the cannabis for improved plant health.

Most importantly, Toigo is committed to the high-quality watershed district his facility operates in, free from any harmful agricultural runoff. Toigo says his cannabis is “pesticide-free.” And, while he uses private wells for watering, he ensures it’s all captured in a close looped system that reuses water and prevents any runoff into nearby waterways.

We knew any runoff from our backyard would go straight into the Chesapeake Bay,” Toigo told D2D. “That’s why we have no runoff at this facility.

A Lasting Legacy

Toigo said profits continue to rise for cannabis producers, but, like all other crops, it is a commodity and subject to price fluctuation. And as states continue to legalize both medical and adult (i.e., recreational) marijuana, Toigo thinks prices will like decrease in the long run.

But Toigo says his sole reason isn’t profit. When asked what his proudest accomplishment has been thus far, he points to his partnership with the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM). Toigo and PCOM are currently running five studies to conduct research into pain management and opioid addiction. That, Toigo says, despite the many struggles he and his family have faced over the years as farmers, makes everything worth the price.

“And really, it’s the best part of the whole process, to know that we’re helping to contribute to non-anecdotal evidence about medicinal marijuana. That’s the flip side of all this that we’re here for the right reason.”

The truth about calorie-deficit diets

On the run? LISTEN to our post!

Even my fiancé got on the bandwagon. I think of him as smart, educated on food — thanks to D2D 😉 — and cares about his health. Yet, even he fell victim to this crazy diet. Observing his one-month ordeal on this special diet was not pleasant, to say the least.

But what exactly does it mean to eat in a calorie deficit? Being on a calorie-deficit diet means that you eat fewer calories than what you burn in a day as opposed to a calorie surplus, which is consuming more calories than what we burn. It seems simple, but it’s actually more complex than I initially thought. I learned this from watching my fiancé, let’s call him “Chad”, attempt to adhere to the core principles to achieve his fitness goals.

This guidance came from a fitness trainer who recommended this diet to burn fat and build muscle. But, before we get into that, let’s take a deeper dive into what it means to eat in a deficit.  It is a little more complicated than just ‘calories in – calories out’.

How to identify your deficit numbers  

First, you want to calculate your maintenance calories, which your body needs to support your energy and activity. This is no easy feat as it takes a considerable amount of time. For example, you need more calories if you work out than if you lead a sedentary lifestyle. To find your maintenance calories, you’ll want to track your calories for ten days. You can do this fairly easily with apps on your phone, including the MyFitnessPal app.

During these ten days, you’ll also need to track your weight. The easiest way to do this is to weigh yourself every morning when you wake up. If your weight stays about the same during those ten days, then you’ve found your maintenance calories. It’s always normal to experience a little fluctuation day-to-day, but your weight should stay within a few pounds.

Next, you’ll want to find the average amount of calories you consumed. This can be done by averaging your daily calorie intake over those ten days. Then subtract 500. You’ve just found your calorie deficit.

Why 500? Studies show that decreasing your daily caloric intake by 500 does not change your hunger or energy levels. This means that by eating 500 fewer calories a day, you’ll still be able to perform your daily activities without an energy loss or feeling starved. Or so we thought…

I watched Chad track every single bite.

I’ve never tracked my calories. I feel as though there are so many other things we must think about when it comes to being healthy that tracking all these specific numbers is where I draw the line. But when Chad told me he would log his calories, protein, fat, and carbs to remain in a deficit and build muscle, I was supportive — yet skeptical.

Now, he’s already a thin, built person. He works out all the time, eats very healthy, and honestly barely has any fat on him, which is why I was a bit confused by this decision, especially since he tried it once before and hated it.

I watched him do this for a couple of weeks, and I was exhausted. Every time he ate, he’d take out his phone, go to an app, and start typing in everything he was consuming and in what portions. This means he had to use a scale to measure what he was eating to ensure it was within the appropriate range. So, when I was sitting at the dinner table after cooking a delicious meal, I had to watch Chad put everything on a scale, scoop by scoop until he achieved his portions. I’m tired just thinking about it!

I waited for what felt like an eternity, staring down at my steaming hot plate of Caprese pasta with chicken, thinking, “Why can’t we just eat healthily since we know how to? I wish it could be that simple.

And how can we find the balance between health, food, and fun?

Here come the hangries”

The other thing I noticed was Chad developed a severe case of being “hangry,” or hungry-angry (it’s a real thing, I swear). He could only eat a specific amount of calories and would often remain hungry after eating. This often left him not very pleasant to be around, which I understood entirely since I’m the same way.

I heard a quote once that said, “If I say I’m hungry, we have about 30 minutes before I turn into a different person”…

I definitely felt this on a personal level.

He also experienced a complete lack of energy, especially in the afternoon since his lunch-time calories were cut. He had to up his caffeine intake just to get through the workday. Above, I mentioned that 500 calories shouldn’t impact energy or hunger levels, but my fiancé experienced an energy loss.

My activities change day-to-day. Shouldn’t my caloric intake?

As I wrote in my intuitive eating article, I practice listening to my body when it’s hungry and full. If I’m not full, I continue to eat or at least allow myself to have a healthy snack. With a calorie deficit, you have to make sure everything stays within your caloric intake for the day.

I also find myself eating more if I have a longer workout. And since I burn more calories with a longer workout, wouldn’t I need to eat more? There’s a lot to factor in on a day-to-day basis.

Every day is different. How can we only eat a specific number of calories when our daily exercise, activity level, and food choices change? And, what matters more: the amount of calories we eat or where those calories come from? For example, a 400-calorie fast-food sandwich is very different than a 400-calorie salad filled with lean protein, grains, and veggies. Yet, for many practicing a calorie deficit diet on social media, they only think about the calories, not so much where they came from. This seems wrong to me, since we know we need to eat a well-balanced diet for good long-term health.

The date-night guilt

The last thing I noticed was that Chad would beat himself up if he went over his caloric intake for the day. For example, if we wanted to have a spontaneous date night and order a couple of drinks, he’d get stressed if he didn’t have enough room in his daily intake to accommodate. While I sat back, happily sipping on my Pomegranate Martini, I watched him calculate in his mind how he would make up for this the next day. It made our date night less than romantic…

The one thing I didn’t want to see, that I sadly did, was that my fiancé became so consumed by his diet program that he stopped enjoying life like he used to.

This demonstrates that, although this diet may work for some people, it definitely does not work for all.

What’s the science?

Chad organized his calorie deficit in a particular way based on his personal goals and what his trainer told him to do. For other people, it can be very different. And for many, it’s been a successful way to lose weight.

One study from 2007 examined the different ways that overweight individuals can shed pounds to determine which method of weight loss was best. This included a diet-only method and a diet-plus-exercise method. The researchers found that it did not matter which group the individuals were part of, but that a negative energy balance, or a calorie deficit, consistently leads to weight loss.

A second study from 2018, also researched various weight loss practices, including low-fat, low-carbohydrate, and calorie deficit. The research found that a calorie deficit is successful for weight loss, especially in the first few months, but it can be dangerous if the individual consumes too few calories. Eating too few calories can put your body into fat-storing mode instead of fat-burning because it doesn’t think it’ll get more food. The study also said that eating in a calorie deficit long-term is difficult to do, which makes sense for my fiancé because he stopped his strict diet deficit after a month. Now we just make sure to eat all of our fruits, vegetables, and proteins.

Want to Save the Planet? ‘Break Boundaries’ at Home

On the run? LISTEN to our post!

I watched Breaking Boundaries on a clear, crisp day in September. The temperature was in the high sixties, so the windows in the den were open where I could hear the birds playing in the trees. Before sitting down for the film, I grabbed a handful of trail mix that I had just meticulously picked out from Whole Foods and a Smartwater—the big one, as I am trying to work on my hydration – and I found a comfortable spot in my favorite chair.

Before the film, these small preparations for my movie-watching comfort did not hit me as meaningful or impactful in any way. As the documentary came to an end, my thoughts wandered back. The windows open where the birds played, the decision to grab nuts as my snack of choice, and choosing to use a plastic water bottle — these unconscious actions, both good and bad, had made me wondering: what if my efforts became conscious? Could I somehow modify my previously unbeknownst ‘good’ and ‘bad’ behaviors? And could these small actions make a difference?

Let’s take a closer look. Or as Attenborough might say, an “Earth’s Conscience” perspective.

Breaking Down my Impact

As I discovered from watching the film, all my seemingly inconsequential actions made an impact on our planet.

  • The Trees outside my window are a critical element in promoting biodiversity and carbon offsets.
  • My Trail Mix is made of nut-based plants that provide healthy protein and nutrients and directly affect land and water use.
  • My Water Bottle is made of plastic, making it part of a linear economy that creates trash that cannot be upcycled or eliminated from our waste stream.

While fear must not paralyze us, this film showed some opportunities for us to make our changes to help the environment.

“Thinking and acting with one unified purpose — to ensure that our planet forever remains healthy and resilient.”

– David Attenborough

Thoughts about the Film

No matter where you stand on climate change, critics and proponents alike state that the documentary details some alarming statistics and fast-approaching global eventualities should we remain on our current trajectory.

The film is well-intentioned. It covers core global issues we currently face across nine defined boundaries. It highlights the importance of individual action and response.

But given its lean runtime, I thought it lacked depth about both the complex topics it sought to cover, and, more importantly, the potential solutions to these urgent global issues. I commend the film for calling to action the need for a broader societal shift toward sustainability.

Still, I would have liked if they better explored the closing themes of the film: planting, healthy-eating initiatives, and waste elimination.

While this was a miss for the film, it is an opportunity for Dirt to Dinner to share its thoughts, provide depth to these potential solutions, and bring these solutions to “your den,” if you will.   

Three Conscious Decisions YOU can Make

The scientific evidence in the film shows that we face unacceptable risks to planetary health. However, it also states that we still have time to correct the situation! To cut greenhouse gases and protect our wetlands, soils, forests, and oceans, we can affect change at a household level through these three simple actions:

“We will live in a cleaner, healthier, and more peaceful world.”

1. Plant Trees

Planting trees is one of the most impactful and achievable solutions to reduce stress on our climate, Attenborough says.

It is vital to offset the carbon we will inevitably emit (at least to some level).

One tree doesn’t quite do it, but it will help. Over 40 years, one silver maple will sequester approximately 400 pounds of CO2, yet the average U.S. citizen emits 20 tons per year.

But carbon-capturing is not the only benefit of planting trees. It can also prevent soil erosion and help regenerate land, providing incredible benefits for global biodiversity.

I looked into how easy or hard this would be and found endless resources. Whether you want to plant one yourself in your backyard or community garden, or have a tree planted in your name, the resources both nationally and regionally are plenty!

I used one of our Dirt to Dinner partners, The Nature Conservancy, that has a program called A Billion Begins with One. It seemed fitting, given that I really wanted to know how my actions could make a more significant impact. I learned that my single donation does more than just put a seed in the ground; it provides habitats for future generations and helps turn the tide of deforestation.

Below are other notable organizations combatting deforestation: 




And to read more about the benefits of trees, carbon sequestration, deforestation, and soil health, check out these D2D articles:




2. Diet Choices

The film emphasizes the benefits of the ‘flexitarian diet’ for the environment.

Similar to the Mediterranean diet, the flexitarian diet focuses on veggies and fruits, nuts and seeds, and lesser-processed plant-based proteins with the flexibility to incorporate meat and animal products.

Research shows that eating a balanced diet rich in plant-based and animal proteins while avoiding processed foods and limiting sugars can be environmentally beneficial.

As we know, some low-impact, sustainably-produced meat can help sequester carbon, reduce soil erosion, and add nutrients to the soil, which aids in a diverse soil microbiome that is critical for carbon capture.

In my household, we receive Daily Harvest deliveries; this is one of many options for meal delivery plans. What drew us to this specific service was their Harvest Bowls that we use as sides to our protein. The primary ingredients are vegetable-based and provide dense nutrient profiles that help deliver a good portion of my recommended daily value of dietary fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals while calories remain low.

There are certainly other ways to make easy flexitarian diet choices. Simple decisions at the grocery store can be immensely impactful:

  • Buy frozen fruits and veggies. These products contribute to 47% less food waste, as they last longer than their fresh counterparts while still maintaining a similar nutrient profile.
  • Shop the perimeter of the store. Not only is this a way to eat healthier by avoiding processed foods typically found in the central isles, but there is typically less packaging, fewer additives, and less greenhouse gas impact.
  • Go heavy on your veggies! As we know, we need 5-7 servings of vegetables per day, but did you know this is also a way to save a buck? Veggies are typically the least expensive items in the grocery store. Focus less on organic vs. conventional and more on freshness so you get the most bang for your buck.
  • Buy LESS! Food waste is a huge problem. Come up with a meal plan before you hit the grocery store, and be sure to read the expiration dates. Here is a good resource on how to choose foods that last the longest!
  • Read your labels! Don’t fall for labels that might be misleading and lead you to believe they are more sustainable than others—make educated decisions! Here is a list of labels that can serve as a guide.
  • And don’t forget to bring your reusable bags to the store with you. Pack some in your trunk, so they are always on hand! But be sure to wash them as they can harbor unwanted bacteria.

Want some great ideas for flexitarian-type meals? Take a look at these delicious dishes:



3. Waste Reduction

The mass of global production runs on what is considered a linear economy, a system not designed to eliminate waste.

If we can turn linear systems into circular ones to recover raw materials, our use of resources can be what the film calls infinite.

These circular economies are critical to eliminating waste and can be achieved with the decisions we make at the grocery store.

Technologies such as blockchain provide supply chain transparency by informing us where our food comes from and the regenerative practices utilized to grow it.

Other technologies, such as an emerging field of smart-labeling, can show shoppers when our food expires, preventing edible foods from being thrown out! Companies like Mimica and  SmartLabel are in the business of reducing food waste by providing environmentally-conscious information to make smarter decisions when throwing out food.

An elementary step we can make at home is reusing water bottles. It seems obvious, but the cumulative statistics are staggering.

Eighty percent of plastic water bottles end up in landfills already overflowing with more than 2 million discarded bottles in the U.S. To make matters worse, it can take up to 1,000 years for EACH bottle to decompose.

Want to learn more about how you can eliminate waste at home? Check out these articles on fast-food restaurants, buying your seafood, sustainable packaging efficiencies, as well as some myth-busting information on feeding our growing nation.

What Else Can We Do?

Our final recommendation would be to share this article with a friend. The more we empower our community with information that demonstrates how the smallest change at home can make a difference, the more of an impact we can cumulatively make.