Aaron Perry


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  • Episode 69 – Corona Virus Special w/ Ryan Zinn, Dr. Bronner’s Regen. Projects. Mgr.



In this special COVID-19 episode, Ryan Zinn, Regenerative Projects Manager at Dr. Bronner’s, discusses the immediate impacts on global supply chains, the regenerative organic imperative, and the opportunities for stewardship and sustainability in the time of Corona. He shares several resources (links below) for our global regenerative work.

Leading the way with the Regenerative Organic Certification (ROC), Dr. Bronner’s is (along with many organizations on the forefront like the Rodale Institute, Patagonia, and Demeter) helping to establish and scale-up organic soil stewardship, fair treatment of people, and equitable economic dynamics throughout the entire world. Part of this work is getting farmers off of the pesticide treadmill – one that is both poisonous and a form of economic slavery. The ROC delivers a “suite of values” that helps all of us as ethical consumers purchase and support the products helping to make the world a much better place.

Ryan discusses how COVID19 “forces our hand” to look at supply chains, food security, community resilience, and a myriad other essential themes. All of these are imperatives for dealing with the climate crisis as a global community, and for overcoming the many interconnected, systemic challenges that we face world-wide. Ryan highlights that at Dr. Bronner’s the top-paid executive’s salary is limited to 5x that of the lowest paid employee – that’s what regenerative economics looks like. That’s what equitable economics looks like. That’s what a sustainable, beautiful future looks like. (Echoing this, Aaron quotes Gandhi, “The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.”).

Ryan Zinn supports Dr. Bronner’s international organic and fair trade supply chains in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, in countries like Ghana, India, Paraguy, and Sri Lanka. Ryan has worked the last 20 years with small-scale farmer organizations to develop agro-ecological strategies that are just and resilient. Ryan also supports non-profit partners, like the fair trade advocacy organization, Fair World Project, and the small farmer crowdfunding platform, Grow Ahead.


Small-scale Farmers Cool Planet – (youtube.com/watch?v=GjD8URaGe88) Journey to Pavitramenthe – (youtube.com/watch?v=pkkk5FjNyQw&t=3s) Regenerative Organic Alliance – (regenorganic.org)

Rodale Institute – (rodaleinstitute.org)

Climate Collaborative – (climatecollaborative.com)

Grow Ahead – (growahead.org)

Dr. Bronner’s Supports the Green New Deal – (drbronner.com/all-one-blog/2020/03/we-support-green-new-deal/)

Y on Earth / Wele Waters Monthly Giving Program – (yonearth.org/wele-waters)


(Automatically generated transcript for search engine optimization and reference purposes - grammatical and spelling errors may exist.)

Welcome to the YOnEarth Community Podcast.

Today we are visiting with Ryan Zinn, Regenerative Projects Manager at Dr. Bronners.

Hey Ryan.

Hey how's it going?


How you doing?

You know not so bad just sort of adjusting to this new reality here when the days and

times of coronavirus for sure.

Yeah absolutely.

Yeah we're going to have a lot to talk about in terms of coronavirus obviously you're

in the soap business.

We've got supply chain issues all of this relates also to the sustainability and regeneration

work that you're doing all around the planet so I'm really looking forward to our discussion


Yeah I'm excited.

We're in a very dynamic and changing world and you know it's funny to think sometimes

how a soap company could be really you know caught up in the middle of it.

So I'm excited about our conversation Aaron.


Well let me give our audience a bit of a background on you.

Ryan Zinn supports Dr. Bronners International Organic and Fair Trade Supply Chains in Africa,

Asia and the Pacific.

Ryan has worked the last 20 years with small scale farmer organizations to develop agro-ecological

strategies that are just and resilient.

Ryan also supports nonprofit partners like the Fair Trade Advocacy Organization, Fair

World Project and the small farmer crowdfunding platform called Grow Ahead.

And we're going to be mentioning a number of different resources and some videos through

our conversation and we'll have links to all those in the show notes for folks to reference.

So Ryan yeah here we are and we're dealing with COVID-19, you're in California, you're

at home, your kids are also at home.

Maybe just as a place to start just because we're all one way or another in this experience

together, how's your day been today and you know what's going on in your world right

now with the coronavirus?

Yeah it's a little while you know I usually start my day pretty early mostly because most

of our partners are either in Asia or Africa so that gives me an opportunity either you

know if I need to touch base with them and I tell you why if it wasn't for Zoom and

Skype we'd be in a whole lot of trouble these days since all of our travel to all of

our partner projects has been really slow down.

So I am just hunkering down from the time being and I've got my two children here at home

I've got a teenager and a tweenager and then I've got my wife who is a pediatric nurse

who's also wrapping up her master's in this practitioner at UCLA so everybody's gone

virtual which has been a big change for them that kind of think through their academic

life now online and yeah we're just trying to kind of figure it all out now.

Yeah absolutely well we know for certain that what's happening right now is definitely

having an impact on the soap companies and I'm really curious to ask you know I'm assuming

that demand has just skyrocketed for the Dr. Bronner's products.

What does that look like in the immediate term but also what does that mean over the coming

weeks and months in terms of supply chain procurement and you know how resilient are

those supplies coming from all around the world?

That's a great question Aaron so I think you know the good news is that you know we've

been deemed by the state of California the county of San Diego as a quote-unquote essential


Certainly soap and hand sanitizer will be in high demand for the foreseeable future and

as such you know all our sales have been really booming which is great on the one hand

and then you know I form part of a really small team and our job really is to work with

our partners on the ground that produce all of our raw materials and sort of build out

our supply chain so that includes everything from like coconut oil and palm oil on all

the way to our essential oils like mint oil and right now you know our biggest challenge

is working with farmers on the ground since many of the countries or regions have actually

been facing some sort of variation of either full quarantine or shutdown or limited operation

and you know that's you know kind of I think something that is often overlooked in fact

it's like you know you have farmers on the front end of this we work with 10,000 small

farmers many of them are you know working in relatively impoverished communities and

our goal is to not only provide them with you know a sustained fair trading relationship

with Dr. Bronners but make sure that they're thriving as well and so if they are more or

less quarantine to their farmer to their home then like many other food servers here in

the United States they don't have an income they can't put food on the table and so

not only is it important for our bottom line but we're really committed to their livelihoods

as well so you know just to give you an example you know hand sanitizer which is now you know

flying off the shelves everywhere you know we work with small-scale farmers in Paraguay

and Ecuador and our farmers you know partners in Ecuador they are the second home because

they have a full-on 15-day quarantine so they won't actually be able to get their product

to port and ship to us so we're trying to be as creative as possible certainly we don't

want to abandon our partners in a time of need and go with another sort of cheaper alternative

or quicker alternative but we also need to make sure that we can continue to make so

open hand sanitizer in the rest of our product so I think on top of the day-to-day work

that we do which has its own challenges certainly over letting COVID-19 on top of it provides

another regal that we have to just kind of think through and be pretty creative.

Absolutely well I know that you and the team of Dr. Bronner's are extraordinarily creative

and really on the forefront the cutting edge of the regenerative and the sustainable movements

worldwide and I'm so excited to ask you about the ways in which you guys are supporting

regenerative agricultural practices around the world and what does that mean I know a lot

of our audiences familiar with the term regenerative some of our audience works in the regenerative

realm but of course we also have a lot of folks who are just getting acquainted with the

term and what it means and clearly this is going to become a very very important action

item for us all around the planet and you guys are leading the way so regenerative agriculture

what is it and what are you guys doing? Well I mean I think for us you know our sort of

journey towards this space in 2020 kind of starts about 15 years ago when the Bronner family

made this commitment to convert and transfer all of our raw materials or coconut oil for example

over to organic sources what we quickly realized is that without having a lot of I don't know

inside into your supply chains it's really hard to tell if the integrity is there for organic

certainly we didn't know about the working conditions whether farmers were paid fairly

and so as a result we were you know more or less forced to set up our own supply chains so back

about 15 years ago we set up our first supply chain in Sri Lanka to produce coconut oil which

is our number one ingredient in most of our soaps and as a result we did that not only to have

organic integrity so that we can ensure that the the consumer has a product free from pesticides

and is grown sustainably but certainly we also wanted to produce out of our fair trade conditions

as well so that means that farmers are paid fair prices they're paid promptly we're not going to

abandon them if they face a drought or COVID-19 or what have you and so we wanted to make sure

that that was really our foundation and over time what we realized is that we weirdly wanted to

take it further instead we've kind of been approaching this this idea of regenerative organic

agriculture as a way to not only ensure that we have a stable supply chain for ourselves for sure

but really I think the big thing is thinking it through the lens of climate change so what we know

is that climate change has already been having a big impact on farmers around the world

whether they call it climate change or something else but really if I'm like the past 10 or 20

years the insane increases of you know crop loss you know more pest and disease problems for farmers

and this is leading to all sorts of things you know migration to the cities losing land those

types of things and so our goal is to really improve our practices on the ground under this sort

of banner of regenerative organic it really what that means is a couple of different things just

in terms of general principles one you know in nature nature has no monoculture so really our

focus is to diversify as much as we can with our small farmer partners and that means

I'm supporting them to diversify into other crops and other systems that quite frankly we may

never actually use in our own supply chains to make so so for example in Ghana and West Africa

where we see a number of our farmers actually grow cocoa to make talklet there it's a very very heavily

you know pesticide dependent crop where they just sprayed fundicide left to right just because

of the the climatic conditions and the practices and so our goal is to get those farmers off the

pesticide treadmill improve their practices which will not only improve their resiliency and

improve their food security but also provides them additional income while we are able to provide

fair prices for the products that we buy the rest of the marketplace quite frankly is just not

fair and so we want to make sure that we can find fair prices for virtually everything that farmers

produce whether that is sold and distributed in local markets or we find them premium buyers in

the United States or in Europe well that's tremendous you guys are are going well above and beyond

your own direct needs and interests with these farmers that's really remarkable.

Yeah you know for us you know it's been a slow process you know when you start to convert farmers

from you know these long you know sort of seated you know experience of using chemicals to farm

it's a long sort of transitional process and so we what we want to do is accompany farmers

during that process but also provide them incentives so that they can sort of you know whether

the changes that they are facing on the ground themselves you know quite frankly depending on

what you grow sometimes organic they have higher labor costs for example a require you to spend

more time out in your field so we want to make sure that as much as possible really the true cost

what it takes to produce a regenerative and fair product is reflected in our relationship with

farmers. You know it's interesting I've spoken with a number of farmers over the years about the

often the increased labor requirements associated with organic practices but on the other hand there's

an offset coming from no longer needing to buy these expensive chemical inputs and I'm curious

with these farmers you've worked with in general how does their economic performance trend over time

as they convert to organic and then build in a regenerative framework. I would say it really

varies from place to place you know some places you have quite a bit more labor depending on the

cropping you know system so for example all of the mint that we use in our or mint oil we use in

our you know most famous peppermint thus so comes from utoproduction and then be where they grow

mint making essential oils but the rotations as well thing from like wheat the pati rice and those

types of things and so really our goal is to figure out a way to support them during that transition

period where in some cases their costs may go up because of labor for example or their yields may go

down but once our experiences is once you get over the hump that that transitional period where you

actually certified organic you can receive that organic premium then you know things begin to

balance out quite a bit better in the favor of farmers really kind of our goal you know once we

go through this transition period that's those required for the marketplace but also just for

soil to kind of like come back a life again and to be able to produce healthily then you have

many many more options and so after that sort of investment of time and if you're growing you know

tree crops there's quite a bit of investment in terms of seedlings for example we want to make

sure that farmers have sort of a stable diversified sort of farm economy that can sort of you know

whether the the changing either climatic conditions or even the market conditions yeah yeah that's

really interesting well speaking of the peppermint Dr. Bronner's soap I've got some of that in my

bathroom so I'm a daily user and a big fan well I'm wondering can you help connect the dots a

little more and paint more of a picture for folks what is the connection between regenerative agriculture

soil and climate crisis true okay so that's a really good question Aaron you know one of the things

that we often think about when we think about climate change that either it's you know sort of

exhaust coming out of cars tailpipes or you know factory spewing contaminants into the atmosphere

sort of on the you know emissions and the things or we also think of things like solar panels for

example as a way to kind of mitigate against some of the the bigger and broader kind of climate

change challenges what most folks may not realize is that agriculture or or industrialize agriculture

in fact is one of the larger you know sources of greenhouse gases so everything from you know

mechanize agriculture is a big combine of tractors to the production of food for example

in fertilizers pesticides but even just the simple fact of turning over soil like plowing

very heavily actually releases carbon stored in that soil into the atmosphere and so this sort

of quote-unquote you know industrial agricultural experience we've been doing now for the last six

years 70 years has actually created quite a bit of greenhouse gas emissions you know that have been

going up into the atmosphere so we see a lot of potential for regenerative agriculture to not only

stop those emissions but actually sort of restore this carbon cycle which basically means that

soil can act as a carbon sink suck all that CO2 out of the atmosphere put it into the soil which

is not only beneficial for the climate but it's also really really important for plants and healthy

soil although that turns into actual sort of nutrients to have a very healthy soil profile and so

that's been pretty much our goal in terms of how we've been approaching farming at all of our

projects really it's this really combination is to implement practices that sequester carbon

where appropriate but also build up our soil health and so that's one of the things that is

probably you know a very simple concept to do but it's one thing that really provides a lot of

stability for farmers they're able to actually absorb those climate shocks whether it's throughout

not enough rain too much rain high temperatures those types of things but it also acts as a way

for us to sort of sort of turn back on some of the damage we've been doing through climate change

so really our kind of focus here is to see agriculture done regeneratively and organically as a way

for us to address multiple things at once turn back climate change have farmers feed their local

communities and to be able to produce a product like Dr. Bronner's soap that's done in a way that's

fairly and as cleanly as possible yeah absolutely and one of the things that here at the Y on

earth community obviously we really emphasize for folks is the critical role that each of us

as individuals plays as a consumer with our purchasing decisions where we're directing our

consumer demand signals and I'm wondering can you speak to a bit about the dynamics that you see

out in the marketplace and of course it's a it's a segue into the regenerative organic certification

I know we're all really really excited about but what what do you see out there in the marketplace

in terms of the importance of the consumer demand signals well one thing I think which has been

really exciting for for me is that one I think consumers ethical consumers are seeing that

they want to go quote unquote above and beyond organic and maybe even fair trade and they're seeing

climate change is one of the big existential threats that it is not only to their communities but

to the food that they like you know I always tell folks if you really want to get freaked out

you know above and beyond COVID-19 just type in your favorite food into Google and climate change

whether it's chocolate, coffee, wine, bread there's been a huge number of sort of like you know

evidences and impacts that were seen throughout different supply chains and so I think consumers

are becoming increasingly savvy about that and so as a result of all the fine work that's been done

by you know farmers organizations and other nonprofits and NGOs I think farmers are produced

consumers are really looking to to make sure that that consumer dollar that they're spending really

goes to those products that reflect their values it's not just enough to be organic or just enough

to be fair trade they want to basically look at the suite of values altogether on one project

and so I think that of course is actually very very encouraging it means that we've got this

sort of emerging consumer base that's really willing to put their money where their mouth is

but I think it's really positive on the other hand what you have now in the marketplace other than

you know claims like organic for example which is regulated at the federal level you're seeing

all sorts of claims in the marketplace that's regenerative this or free range that and none of these

claims are in fact regulated or have any basically you know sort of assurance behind them and so

one of the things that we did at dr. Bronners was looked to connect with other like minded

organizations and companies to create a standard and process that really put a whole lot of sort of

likes force and that validity behind the clients and so we partnered with the rodeo institute out

of Pennsylvania Patagonia and a number of other NGOs and farmers organizations to create a draft

or pilot standard called the regenerative organic certification or rock standard and so from

there our goal was really to be able to try to bring together all of our important values so

organic certainly was there fairness for farmers and farm workers was certainly front and center

and also looking at soil health and animal welfare you know one of the things that we look at is

is like when you look at a farm or a product you want to make sure that all those values are

there well it's really tough for a consumer to try to figure that out all of their own heck I'm

you know in this business and sometimes it's also tough for me when I go to the supermarket to

figure out if the claims that a product they're making are in fact real or just greenwashing

so our goal was to be able to create a standard that reflects her values and then can be verified

which means that a third party will go out and certify to it and then the consumer can know that

hey look all my values are encapsulated in this product yeah that's so powerful well we're really

excited about the regenerative organic certification and the winery community I know is going to be

doing a whole lot in the coming months to help build awareness educating mobilize around that out

in the marketplace and you know it makes me think also about a lot of the other ways in which

we're all engaged in cultivating a more regenerative oriented culture and I know you have some

thoughts about what living regeneratively means in addition to whatever soap we might choose to buy

what I tell you what I mean it's actually you know maybe the one silver lining of the

COVID-19 crisis is that you know it's really kind of forced our hand to do two things I think one

is to look like at our own home you know I a couple of stats really in the last maybe 10 days where

you know the sales of organic seed have just gone through the roof and so I see that as a really

positive step even if it's a really small you know a couple of containers of herbs you have on your

porch your balcony or you know on your windowsill or you convert your entire front lawn to a home

garden I think those are really powerful connections because I think I think on multiple levels one

if we can actually actively participate in the growing of our own food even if it's relatively

smaller symbolic I think there's just a very clear connection that you would see with the rest of

the food that you buy you have a greater appreciation that all of the work that farmers and farm

workers go through and how hard it is and what and the challenge it is to actually get

fairing organic food to your front door to your supermarkets I think that's really important

and the other thing that I think is exciting for me to see is that there's more and more examples

liberation happening right now which I think is really really critical I don't think any of us

can go it alone doesn't matter how much money we have or how much space we have to grow whatever

we have I think being able to collaborate and depend upon your neighbors I think it's really

really critical so I've seen some really great examples just in the last week of people working

together either they're to help their neighbor go get you know they're they're medicine at the

pharmacy for example I really came together and shared their resources on my street for those folks

that didn't get any toilet paper because somebody was hoarding them and so it was a great way for

us to be able to say how can we collaborate I'm in a way and you know sort of had that mutual

aid network within your own community I think that's really really critical so to me it's a couple

of things one is making sure those relationships locally within your street or your neighborhood

really really strong and then second it's also just basically getting your hands dirty and going

out there and getting growing what you can because I think that sort of connection to the earth is

so much more tangible when you can do it yourself as opposed to thinking about it you know theoretically

about some farmer you know far away from you you know kind of doing their own thing and you have

no real connection to them so those are for me I think are probably the two sort of biggest

most exciting things I've seen and then I should just add you know one of the things that we've

been really focusing on is I think it's great to buy organically and regeneratively as much as you

can but hopefully we need to take all of that energy and then put it into making good public

policies so that way we could support farmers to transition regeneratively as well so there's a

lot of great discussions happening right now to make sure that farmers are supported as they

transition to regenerative practices whether that's training through the USDA one of the things

that we think has got a lot of potential is for like school districts and hospitals to have regenerative

purchasing policies so that all of the produce and the food that they get comes from regenerative

sources that would be one solid way to support those farmers make that transition because sometimes

the marketplace isn't so kind to farmers and so we want to make sure that they've got good long

term stable contracts so that they can actually make those investments in those regenerative

practices yeah obviously a lot of different ways we can all help support these efforts and I

think it's becoming with COVID-19 increasingly clear to us how vulnerable some of the food supply

chains can be and how much we truly depend on the farmers the folks growing the food and you know

when when I was writing the book YonEarth a few years ago I talked about three different ways

we can think about how we're procuring our food grow no and show for shorthand so grow some of your

own know some farmers in the vicinity from whom you can source things and then show with those

things we are buying at the store or or through e-commerce through third-party certifications show

that those food and beverage products are coming to us with good treatment of people good treatment

of soil good treatment of water so the grow no show framework seems to to hold up I would say even

more robustly in the context of what we're all experiencing right now with coronavirus

oh 100% and I think this is a really it's a great opportunity but it's going to be a very

challenging time for small farmers all over you know it's quite frankly if they don't have a couple

of months of you know just cash cash flow to be able to weather sort of these these challenges

it's going to be really challenging so I think really the big thing that I've been seeing in

sort of my community is figuring out how to support you know small and independent businesses

or farmers or like you said using sort of those e-commerce options if those products aren't quite

you know available you know in your local community I think that's super critical to be able to

support them during this this tough time because to be honest what I what I worry is that you know

only sort of those big sort of corporate industrial farms and you know supermarkets they're

going to weather this just fine it's the folks that we really rely on for those regenerative

you know products to be able to to really weather this as well the only way they're going to do that

is that we can support them in this process so like you said knowing your farmers and knowing

who you're purchasing your food from it's out.

Absolutely in that whole mechanism that we call community supported agriculture, the CSA model,

is a perfect way right now to support farmers because essentially here in the spring time,

we pay them for this year's production and it gives them the upfront cash they need to work

over these coming months as we get our weekly shares of produce and sometimes other products,

some have eggs, some do other things as well. So to the extent that we can in our communities

sort of double down on our community supported agriculture purchasing, I think that's another way

we can really help support a lot of these small farmers in particular. Yeah, I agree.

Yeah, I'd love, you know, I've been seeing a couple of different resources where people can

sort of support the local stuff or there's, you know, since I work a lot in kind of the international

supply chain like coffee and what have you, you know, being able to provide, you know,

work with roasters who are actually committed to their supply chain that it is really,

really critical as well. Yeah, absolutely. I got to give a shout out to Equal Exchange,

one of the cooperative global networks doing coffee, tea, chocolate. They're doing a lot of great

work as well. So shout out to those guys. They've supported some of our Y on earth work over the

months and maybe I'll take that opportunity to thank some of our sponsors, making this podcast

series possible and making all of our community mobilization work possible. And these include

the LIDGE Family Foundation, Purium, Earth Coast Productions, and Waylay Waters.

With Waylay Waters, it's a social enterprise and all of their proceeds support the Y on earth

community. And you can actually join the monthly giving program with Waylay Waters and receive some

of the CBD Aromatherapy Soaking Salts, great for your at-home self-care in the context of coronavirus.

You can go to Y on earth.org slash Waylay-Waters, that's W-E-L-E-Waters to sign up. And of course,

want to also mention drbronor.com. You'll note in the URL, it's drbronor.s.com. And want to also

give a big shout out to all the folks in the Y on earth community who have joined our monthly

giving program to support all of this work. In the context of what's happening with coronavirus,

we're accelerating a number of resources for folks resources for permaculture gardening at home

in your neighborhood. We're working on neighborhood resiliency and sustainability,

handbook and video guides, and actually are excited to be talking with drbronor's about

collaborating on some of this. We're collaborating with the Rodale Institute on these efforts as well.

And so stay tuned as Y on earth is helping to make available a number of

resources in all of the context of us mobilizing our gardens and our sustainability practices in

our own homes and yards and neighborhoods. And I know that Ryan, you've provided us with a number

of links of resources that you have to offer and we'll have all these in the show notes. And I

wanted to just walk through them. The first one on the list that you provided is the small

scale farmer's cool planet video. Can you tell us about that?

Yeah, so this was a video we did while five years ago now just as people started to begin to make

these connections between farming and climate change and really the impact the regenerative

organic agricultural can have. And so really our goal was to talk a little bit about sort of the

big picture, talk about the problems associated with chemical industrial agriculture,

but really focus in on sort of this what we call small scale farmer solution. And that basically

means that despite the millions and millions and millions of acres of monocross grown out there,

of corn and soy or cotton, what have you, it's really small farmers the world over that are

actually feeding their communities. So one of the most kind of interesting stats that we've come

across is that you know small farmers feed the majority of the world's population just on a quarter

of the farmland. So this goes to show you that we can really focus in on having a very healthy

regenerative food supply as so long as we are about the somewhat supposed four small farmers. And so

we highlight a number of good brands that are doing great things by partnering with small farmers

and then putting that within the context of climate change. So we did that right at around the

well 2015 climate mobilization in New York City and sort of leading up into the Paris climate

talk. So still a lot of work to be done for sure, but at least it gives a good frame to think about

both the food supply, small farmers and climate change. Yeah, beautiful. Yeah, I encourage folks to

check out that video. And then you have another video called Journey to Provecimente. I know I'm

not saying that exactly correctly. I know you'll say it, but this is another video that you've

shared with us. Tell us about that one. Yeah, so last year we had our CEO, our Cosmic Engagement

Officer, David Bronner, and our team visited our local partners in Uttar Pradesh, India. And they

run Pavitrament, which is our mid to us supplier. And so the video is great because it gives you

sort of an up close and personal experience as some of the realities facing the small farmers

with which we work in. And so in India, we work with about 2000 small farmers. They have anywhere

between half an acre to maybe an acre or two acres that not only support their family, but also

grow mint and things like that. So it's a good example of how we like to sort of showcase the work

that's being done with our partners and our projects. By also sharing some of the voices of the

farmers and community members themselves. So he won a great snapshot into the day and the life

of some farmers in Uttar Pradesh, India, and sort of our relationship with them. This is a great

video. That's great. I can't help but make a mention that David Bronner, your Chief Cosmic

Engagement Officer CEO, was on our podcast several weeks ago. And so if folks want to check out

that episode, you can find that at the winers.org slash community. podcast page. And it was such a

fun conversation. And I imagine he's got to be just a wonderful guy to work with with his passion

and his various interests. It was a real joy interviewing him. Yeah, no, I have to say the Bronner

family from top to bottom are just the most committed people I've ever worked with. And to be

honest with you, my background is more in like rural development internationally. And I was always

very skeptical of working in the private sector. But I would say Dr. Bronner is one of the few

companies I would ever consider working for. So I'm very, very grateful to be able to work with

a great team. That's really beautiful to hear. Before we continue on this list of resources you've

provided, I want to also be sure to mention because I forgot to earlier when giving shout-outs to

supporters, etc. On the YonEarth.org site, we also have a few resources specifically for

gardening. One is called the community mobilization kit. And it includes some biodynamic soil

activator that you can use in your garden and actually in your neighborhood. If you want to,

you can share this with your neighbors. It also includes our soil stewardship handbook and some

video resources around the soil building that's so important to growing good, healthy nutrient

dense food and medicinal herbs. We also have the garden bundle kit that we put together for you

that has some similar resources and some biochar from one of our biochar partners. So just wanted to

make sure that folks know about that. Now soon we're also launching a very exciting bath bomb

for gardens. Basically a biodynamic soil activator prep wrapped in magnesium sulfate like a bath bomb

that you dissolve into water before spraying it around your garden and your yard. So that's coming.

That's going to be a lot of fun for everybody. So just wanted to be sure to mention all that.

And on that note, I guess we're going to segue to the regenerative organic alliance, which is

regionorganic.org. And Ryan, you already mentioned them, but just tell us a little more about what

information we'll find when we go to that resource. Yeah, 100%. So the regenerative organic alliance

is an organization that was co-founded by Patagonia Dr. Bronner's Rodial Institute and a number of

other nonprofits and farmers and businesses. And really the goal here was to provide a home for

this regenerative organic certification process. So folks that go to that website will get a chance

to take a look at all of the draft standard of basically what we're looking at in terms of how we

define regenerative organic. Some updated information on the pilots. So anytime you kind of create a

new program or a new standard, you actually want to go ahead and test it out. And so over the last

year or so we've been piloting out the standard actually at three of our projects in Ghana, Sri Lanka,

and in India with other partners as well both in North America and abroad. And right now we're in the

process of actually going through all the feedback on the experience from the farmers and the

businesses that participated. And as a result of that process, the standard itself would then become

public consumption to any company or farm that would like to actually be certified against it.

And so people get a chance to see who the pilot participants were, what the standard language

looks like. And then some of the more up-to-date information in terms of where we'll be presenting

and things like that. You know I'm curious, will it be sort of like a pass fail either you're

certified or you're not? Or does it have tears and scoring and sort of different levels of

accomplishment? Yes, that's a great question, Aaron. So one of the things that we've realized is

that starting from scratch, it's really hard to get to a regenerative. It's sometimes a long

process and it can be expensive. So what we wanted to do was to provide a pathway for farmers and

ranchers to have more or less continuous improvement in sort of clear benchmarks so that there's actual

incentives and then they get recognized and actually can charge their premium. So the way that the

standard was set up is that right now there's three tiers, bronze, silver, and gold. And so those

tiers basically reflect the level to which the brand or the farm or ranch has actually gone to

ensure not only soil health but fair trade practices as well as animal welfare. And so what we

wanted to do is provide a clear pathway for farmers but also realizing that USDA organic is

really the sort of entry point. We wanted to make sure that this standard built on organic

and that didn't really be a distraction or take anything away from it. So that is one thing that

is super clear as far as the pass fail part of things. Certainly USDA organic is your first sort

of barrier tree and then from there there's a pathway for folks to continually build upon their

practices and be recognized by the label. Okay so we know that regardless of the tiers if we're

getting something that's certified regenerative organic it will not have these poisonous toxic

chemicals that we would otherwise find in conventional agriculture. Indeed so just to give you an

example you would have as your sort of entry point for any certified entity within the regenerative

organic system but it also includes things like child labor for example or forced labor or sort

of minimal requirements on sort of soil health practices. So what we wanted to do is we realized that

there's quite a bit of investment required by farmers. There's some training that's required as

well and they had to build up their own supply chain. So one of the things that we realized that

is very important especially in our partnership with the Roedale Institute is that one way you can

ensure that you can reduce your fertilizer cost for example and your input cost for example which

is like pesticides is by improving your rotation. So instead of just going corn and soy year after

year the more diverse rotations farmers can use including cover crops can in fact help build up

their soil health but also reduce their cost. But to be able to do that requires an infrastructure

some trainings and collaborations perhaps with their neighbors. So we wanted to build in a

basically a ladder to allow for farmers to be able to build up to that and then be recognized

in the marketplace. Beautiful yeah and you just mentioned Roedale there at RoedaleInstitute.org.

We recently recorded an interview with CEO Jeff Moyer on a lot of this regenerative work.

They've been around what 70 years or something like that really leading the way from a

scientific research standpoint on organic agricultural practices. Roedale from our vantage point

into the ecosystem of the organizations that are really leading the way Roedale like you guys

is right at the heart of all of this. Yeah we've been inspired by the work done at Roedale over

the years. I remember 20 plus years ago in university reading some of their research that was

done and to be honest with you one of the things that kind of kicked off this whole process was a

white paper that they did maybe about seven or eight years ago called regenerative organic agriculture

down to earth approach to addressing climate change. So there they basically looked at all the

scientific data and then they're able to actually quantify what each practice can do in terms of

actually drawing down atmosphere carbon. So those are all things that I think are really really

critical to think about. It's you know we're not just approaching this from kind of a you know

esoteric you know just you know this this this located approach but really there's hard science

that goes behind basically every each and every practice that we do. Yeah beautiful. Thank you

and then you had also shared the climate collaborative which is climate collaborative.com.

Yeah so this is a great initiative that I am really excited about. So you know in the sort of

you know consumer product space sometimes companies need a little bit of supporting collaboration

to make all of these these steps for being as responsible in the climate space as possible.

So the climate collaborative is a coalition of companies that has come together to make commitments

to actually improve their practices and this includes everything from transportation you know

electricity at their facilities supply chains like we've been talking about packaging all of these

different things. So it's a way for companies to come together share best practices and work

together and then be able to actually amplify these things. So I don't think anyone company alone can

tackle all things that we need to address. So I really like their approach and they've got a great

amount of resources out there for any company bigger small that they're getting involved. So

if you have a company and you're looking to make improvements on all these climate I would highly

recommend them. That's great thank you very much for that and tell us about grow ahead grow ahead.org

Yeah so you know Dr. Bronner supports a number of great causes you know across the spectrum you

know and so of course regenerative agriculture is close to my heart and this is one of the

initiatives that we've been supporting the last couple of years and one of the things that we've

realized is that this notion of agroforestry which is basically farming with trees in a way that

is very diversified not only is a the public in my sort of you know I would say biased opinion but

there's a great way to super charge carbon sequestration while also providing a great income

for farmers and so our goal is to be able to help small farmers all over the world invest in

agroforestry systems so that they can in fact support their local food economies but also sequester

carbon and really kind of create these islands of knowledge so to speak and so for folks who

would be interested in participating in crowdfunding all of these replanting efforts all over the world

I highly recommend they take a look at grow ahead.org Okay that's that's really wonderful thank you

for that and then the the final resource that you shared with us on your list is a very recent

article from Dr. Bronner's called Dr. Bronner's supports the Green New Deal and with everything

happening obviously this is a huge year in terms of policy and COVID-19 has really amplified

certain aspects of discussions that have already been underway but this one seems to be so spot on

in terms of linking a number of these different key efforts and initiatives so Dr. Bronner supports

the Green New Deal tell us what does that mean and why did you guys publish that? Yeah so for

some of those history buffs out there might remember the history of the New Deal which happened

during the Roosevelt administration and the idea was to put all of the resources of the federal

government behind a recovery that would allow for folks to get out of the Great Depression through

things like employment public works support for farmers those types of things and so the idea going

forward is that really to be able to tackle the greatest existential challenge of our lifetime

which is climate change we really need to be able to leverage all of the power that we have at

the local state and federal level and so there's been a number of activists and thinkers and

authors researchers that have been proposing this concept of a Green New Deal which would basically

focus a lot of the spending that we do at the federal level towards climate friendly technology

investments infrastructure and those types of things so what we want to do is make sure that any

type of investment or stimulus package that comes out of this process not only is fair to everybody

you know especially those that were left behind in previous cases but also includes green technology

so if we're going to actually build any transportation infrastructure suddenly we would want

that to be low carbon or carbon neutral you know I think the time is now if that any type of

investment should basically basically take into account all of the different sort of

climate technologies we have whether that's solar panels etc and so I think one of the things

that we've realized is that what we want to do is try to replicate sort of the values and

practices that we do at Dr. Bronners so for example um exactly to pay is cap that five to one

so David Bronner can't make more than you know five times what the lowest person pays

so really our goal is to make sure that we have living wages universal health color for our staff

and we see that is absolutely critical not just for our own team in our own company

but we want that for everybody and really the only way to do that is to have a government

program that allows for that and is as equitable as possible and I would just say one sort of

concrete way that I like to explain this is you know one thing that you might realize going to

the supermarket or your farmer's market you know regenerative and organic products they're

they're more expensive for sure and that's in part because we've actually incorporated the true cost

where we're paying the farmer fairly where we are you know making sure that he or she is

boarded for all of the investment that they're doing to make a regenerative organic product

and so for consumers to be able to actually pay a farmer the true cost they need to be paid

fairly as well so that means raising the minimum wage we want to have a living wage for everybody

so that way we can actually support this regenerative economy that we would like to see in the future

yeah it's so important and just to underscore the commitment that you all uh have already

instituted at doctor runners to have a five to one executive paycap is extraordinary we know in

many of the corporations in here in the United States we've got executives getting paid 100

200 300 times what many of their employees are being paid and in this case the highest levels

executive is getting paid only five times what the rest of the team are getting paid

yeah so that allows for us to pay living wages to everybody whether you're starting off

even interns we have we actually are able to provide you know a living wage for interns which

is pretty unique I mean I for one what's you know when did a huge debt just trying to intern for

you know they're not prosperous and so for us to be able to do that I think is is a great example

and it's just those that show you with this sort of commitment you can actually do some pretty

remarkable things I I they handed to the broader family for for doing these things they do fantastic

work you know it reminds me of a wonderful quote that I've seen attributed to Gandhi that says

the world has enough for everyone's need but not for everyone's greed and I think you know what you

guys are doing at doctor Bronners is such an exemplary example of what's possible what needs to be

done what we should be supporting and I want to thank you Ryan in the context of all of the

disruption and you know this orientation that's happening right now with coronavirus thank you

so much for taking time to visit with us and before we sign off I just I want to ask you if

if there's anything else you'd like to share with the audience in general and on behalf of the

audience so thank you again well thank you and I really appreciate the the opportunity I love all

of the different activities that you all are doing just between education and giving people this

concrete things to do in their own you know backyards I mean it's fantastic so hats off to you all

I would say you know as as frightening as you know COVID-19 is I also see it as it is a very unique

almost once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us to remake our world by creating those community

connections you know just rethinking how what we want to prioritize you know I live in Southern

California I work from home and it's been you know challenging indeed to be able to you know sort of

reorientate our lives to make sure that we are keeping ourselves and our communities safe from

transmission of this disease but also I've seen some pretty beautiful things in just the last you

know weaker too that I'd like to see continue on once we resolve this so I think this is a great

opportunity for us to sort of you know continue to build those communities and sort of take that

momentum forward so that way we can make sure that all of the values that we'd like to see come out

of this this sort of crisis are then you know a little bit on on solid solid foodie but let's not

forget the lessons learned over the last couple of weeks for sure yeah beautifully said yeah

thanks so much Ryan really appreciate it yeah thank you Aaron I appreciate it thank you

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Y On Earth - Podcast Cover
Stewardship & Sustainability Series
Episode 69 - Corona Virus Special w/ Ryan Zinn, Dr. Bronner's Regen. Projects. Mgr.

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