Executive Briefings

Patagonia Wants to Save the World Through Beer and Buffalo Jerky

Beer and buffalo jerky may not be the first tools that come to mind for confronting the environmental crisis. But when you consider that agriculture - from the way we manage soil to the cultivation of livestock - is a major source of carbon emissions and a leading cause of biodiversity degradation, it makes sense that one California company is working to overhaul the food system from the ground up. Beer, buffalo jerky and hot breakfast cereals are just some of the fruits of those labors.

"At the hands of a few mega-corporations with all the power, our global agriculture system is destroying the Earth," says Yvon Chouinard, the founder and owner of the Ventura-based outdoor apparel company Patagonia, which has long been known for its corporate activism. The company's growing Patagonia Provisions division, headquartered in Sausalito, is using an expanding selection of organic food items, sourced through regenerative farming and other sustainable practices, to rebuild top soil, repair the food supply chain and safeguard food security.

Its recently released Long Root Ale, made in partnership with Oregon’s certified organic Hopworks Urban Brewery, seeks to get to the literal root of the problem. The beer is made with an innovative perennial grain from the Land Institute in Salina, Kan., a development which is 13 years in the making and just beginning to be used in commercial foods and beverages. The grain, called Kernza, originates from a perennial wheatgrass whose long and dense root systems unfurl like subterranean ZZ Top beards, up to 10 feet beneath the Earth’s surface - hence the name of the beer. Unlike annual wheat crops, Kernza doesn’t need to be tilled and replanted every year, traditional farming practices that over time have resulted in soil erosion and degradation, and loss of carbon to the atmosphere.

Long Root was originally developed because beer was deemed the best vehicle for introducing the commercial market to the benefits of perennial crops, but plans are already in the works for expanding to additional styles of beer made with the Kernza grain or other perennials.

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"At the hands of a few mega-corporations with all the power, our global agriculture system is destroying the Earth," says Yvon Chouinard, the founder and owner of the Ventura-based outdoor apparel company Patagonia, which has long been known for its corporate activism. The company's growing Patagonia Provisions division, headquartered in Sausalito, is using an expanding selection of organic food items, sourced through regenerative farming and other sustainable practices, to rebuild top soil, repair the food supply chain and safeguard food security.

Its recently released Long Root Ale, made in partnership with Oregon’s certified organic Hopworks Urban Brewery, seeks to get to the literal root of the problem. The beer is made with an innovative perennial grain from the Land Institute in Salina, Kan., a development which is 13 years in the making and just beginning to be used in commercial foods and beverages. The grain, called Kernza, originates from a perennial wheatgrass whose long and dense root systems unfurl like subterranean ZZ Top beards, up to 10 feet beneath the Earth’s surface - hence the name of the beer. Unlike annual wheat crops, Kernza doesn’t need to be tilled and replanted every year, traditional farming practices that over time have resulted in soil erosion and degradation, and loss of carbon to the atmosphere.

Long Root was originally developed because beer was deemed the best vehicle for introducing the commercial market to the benefits of perennial crops, but plans are already in the works for expanding to additional styles of beer made with the Kernza grain or other perennials.

Read Full Article