Our logo represents the four critical components of the food system that Cooks Venture addresses. It is more than a logo to us: it is a vision for a healthier food system that has the power to change the planet for the better. Each of these plants and animals, when managed properly, has the potential to positively impact the soil and ecosystems. This isn’t just our claim. Our methods are backed by decades of science and research with the top thinkers in the world on climate positive agriculture.
Ruminant animals – including cattle, sheep, deer, antelopes, giraffes, and their relatives – are critical for healthy land. They ferment grass and cellulosic material into simple sugars in one of their four stomach compartments, called the rumen, and convert it into muscle. Cattle are misunderstood as major greenhouse gas contributors: the problem is not the number of cattle we raise, but how we raise them. In contrast to pre-colonial times, when wild ruminants roamed the prairies feeding on grasses, most of today’s cattle are fattened on grains at feedlots, where their waste is concentrated in toxic quantities rather than digested by soil microorganisms. When cattle are properly managed, and fed and finished on grass alone, they contribute to a healthy ecosystem and manage land with minimal human intervention. In other words, healthy cattle managed on permanent pasture can be restorative, as opposed to detrimental.
Monogastric animals have one stomach compartment and require carbohydrates and balanced nutrition to survive. These include chickens, pigs, rabbits, and humans! While our friends the ruminants can live on cellulose material from plants alone, monogastric animals require us to grow feed crops. When feed crops are well managed, with healthy crop rotations, in organic systems, we can feed monogastric farm animals and humans while reversing the effects of carbon emissions. When these crops are poorly managed, millions of acres of land can be negatively impacted just to grow a relatively small amount of feed for monogastric animals. This is a major contributor to climate change, and perhaps the biggest threat to our ecosystem. Put simply: Monogastrics can be a huge part of the problem or a key piece of the solution – that’s why we started by fixing the biggest problem in the food system: chicken.
The majority of farming in the world is dedicated to feed crops. 97% of American agriculture, outside of pasture, are crops like corn, wheat and soy – not vegetables, as we are often led to believe. Furthermore, the majority of American crops are grown in conventional systems that are subsidized with tax dollars. The largest crop in America is corn, engulfing over 400 million acres. About a third of American corn is used for ethanol, a fuel produced at an energy loss and paid for with your taxes. About 9% of domestic corn is used for poultry production, and 15% of corn is used for dairy and beef production (even though ruminants are biologically designed to eat grass, not corn!). If we stopped growing conventional corn for ethanol and cattle and focused on growing other diversified crops that contribute to the replacement of soil nutrition, we could double American food production while also reversing the effects of climate change. Our soil is our greatest natural resource; we have more top soil than any other nation in the world. That will not be the case for long unless we protect it through regenerative agriculture. Corn is not the enemy, but the way we manage land through its production is the biggest single problem in the modern food world.
Despite the popular perception that most farmers grow vegetables, diversified crops represent less than 3% of American agriculture, including all fruits and nuts. However, they are essential for human health and a healthy environment. We must create better rotational systems that work synergistically with nature and animals to require fewer inputs (fertilizers and pesticides) and less soil disruption.
How This Works Together
By building a holistic system, symbolized by our blazon representations of these plants and animals, we can effect positive change on millions of acres of land, taking carbon out of the atmosphere and putting it into the soil. This system requires both plants and animals, working together, as they have for millions of years. Such a system regenerates itself, improving with time, feeding us today and into the future.