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Navitas Organics Blog

Why Farmer Autonomy Matters: An Interview with the President of A Growing Culture

Loren Cardeli, co-founder and president of A Growing Culture (AGC), has spent the last 10 years traveling the world, learning from farmers and realizing that farmers are our solution to the current environmental crisis. I sat down with Loren to learn more about the amazing organization he started, and how he aims to change the way we view farmers and their critical role in changing our food system.

MD: What inspired you to start A Growing Culture?

LC: My love of agriculture and farming has led me to explore communities around the world and learn how they’ve been growing their food. These experiences triggered my interest in this movement, but my “lightbulb” moment came from a personal experience I had while working in a community in Belize. We were growing our own food, living off our own produce, hunting our own meat, deep in the jungle. One day, I walked to a local community to purchase some chickens for dinner and heard someone screaming. I saw a man holding his young son, who looked pale and limp, and it turned out his son had mistakenly ingested pesticides that were used on his crops. Tragically, his son ended up dying. Seeing this shook me, but it also opened me up to understanding that there are two models of agriculture. Just a few blocks away, we were living organically, growing our own food and connected to the source, while this nearby community was connected to a logging road, and down that road was the access to market inputs, fertilizers and chemicals. This community had become dependent on these connections with industrial and chemical farming, and what blew me away was how close, yet how far away these communities were from each other. It showed me how the industrial model not only erodes the environment, but it also erodes the culture and the community. At that moment, I decided I wanted to work with farmers all over the world to unite and amplify their solution to a better food system for all, absent of foreign, chemical and dangerous inputs.

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Topics: information, organic, blog, community, culture, food, healthy, sustainability

3 Reasons Why You’ll Never Balk at the Price of Organic Again

In the early days of Navitas when Zach and I were starting our family, we were already avid consumers of organic food. As young adults, we were fortunate to be introduced to health foods through a hippie counterculture that inadvertently introduced us to the plant-based diet. I also spent time working on an organic farm in college, learning about cultivation practices like biodiverse planting, crop rotation and other methods to improve soil health. By the time we met, we both felt strongly that eating foods free from chemicals was the ethical choice, not just healthier for people, but healthier for all ecosystems that people depended on to live. As fate would have it, our son was born at the same time we were introduced to the idea of importing Maca from Peru. A new sense of urgency emerged with parenthood to protect our child from exposure to anything that could potentially affect his development. In retrospect, it was a sign that we were meant to start an organic food company and work in an industry that we believed could positively influence the world into which we were bringing our child. Albeit scary starting a business at the same time as starting a family, we were comforted in the idea that we were investing in healthier communities and wanted to support farmers who shared in that commitment.

Our early partners in Peru were some of the first organic certified operations cultivating Maca and Cacao for export at the time. Through our partnerships, we gained a deeper understanding of how traditional farming practices are inherently organic and sustainable due to the smaller scale, slower production rate, and inability to pay for expensive agrochemicals in the remote farming villages where the products were grown. But in the US, the organic label grew to mean something we relied upon and we felt obligated to share that sense of security with our

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Topics: wellness, information, organic, blog, food, health, healthy

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