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May 24, 2018

Did you know that the thin walled produce you eat can be some of the most concerning foods in your diet. From everything we think we know - that just seems counterintuitive. How can Fruit & Veg possibly worse than processed food, high fructose sugar, feedlot beef?  Well, that may come down to the eye of the beholder.  Concerns with neurotoxins and hormone disruptors used extensively in common pesticides throughout conventional production, or that of glyphosate are real and are worthy of scrutiny.

On Sourcing Matters episode 21 we welcome Volkert Engelsman, CEO of the EU's largest importer of organic and biological produce - EOSTA of the Netherlands.  Engelsman is a global thought-leader fighting for cleaner food and healthier soils through a unique process of engaging more stakeholders in sourcing.  "When you commoditize products, you anonymize origin and backstory" explains Engelsman in describing why he launched trans & trace technology platform Nature & More to validate the integrity of his supply chain.  Now, as the backbone of their produce distribution - this framework brought mainstream through a "Sustainability Flower" is used to evaluate, manage and communicate the sustainability achievements of organic growers. The six flower petals deal with ecology: soil, water, air, plants, animals and energy. The heart of the flower shows the words "freedom", "justice" and "solidarity", which refer to cultural, societal and economical sustainability respectively.

Along with the UN and Ernst & Young - Volkert Engelsman and the team at EOSTA have levered the Nature & More framework to prove healthier & cleaner food has greater value than the cheap stuff.  The pilot program has been labeled "True Cost Accounting for Food, Farming & Finance".   We learn that French Government has calculated a 54b Euro impact of externalized costs from contamination on the water supply and environmental impact tied to conventional food production. More over, the UN calculates $2.8 Trillion of environmental externalized costs and $2.1 Trillion in social damage tied to extractive models of agriculture.  Engelsman explains that's about the equivalent of the total revenues of all food products from around the world.  “The report makes clear that organic food is not too expensive, but rather conventional food is too cheap.” - details Engelsman.

in 2015 Engelsman launched a viral initiative to engage everyday citizens, VIPs, and political leaders to Save our Soils.  With 30 football fields of soil being lost every minute to irresponsible farming practices, this UN-backed Save Our Soils initiative aims to inform consumers about the urgent need to halt the loss of irreplaceable soils. To amplify the impact Engelsman employs ambassadors like Prince Charles, Julia Roberts, King of the Netherlands, Dalai Lama, Bishop Desmond Tutu, activist Vandana Shiva and conservationist founder of North Face Douglas Tompkins to support efforts in preserving soils, and promoting clean food on a shrinking planet with a fresh look at true costs.
Have a listen, and hear what's going on around the world. There are some pretty exciting concepts ripe for change. This guy, Volkert Engelsman of the Netherlands, is a driving force teeming with insight and creativity set on changing the world for the better.