Can chicken fight climate change? Blue Apron Cofounder Matthew Wadiak Launches New Venture to Help Reverse Climate Change
But two years ago, Wadiak started a new venture, once again taking aim at the way in which people purchase and consume food. Only this time, the venture stemmed not from a desire to help people cook more, but to build a model for a new type of environmentally and economically sustainable food system. From its 800-acre farm, Cooks Venture is building a viable model of regenerative agriculture that climate scientists agree could reverse climate change, one chicken at a time.
Most environmentalists say the best way to fight climate change on your plate is to reduce or avoid eating meat. But there’s a growing number of proponents for regenerative agriculture, a farming method that builds organic matter in the soil with the goal of sequestering more carbon from the atmosphere than it releases.
Blue Apron founder aims to change the world, one heirloom chicken at a time.
Matthew Wadiak, Blue Apron founder, discusses the launch of his new venture called Cooks Venture, a food ecosystem that he claims has been scientifically proven to reverse climate change. He speaks with Bloomberg's Scarlet Fu and Caroline Hyde on "Bloomberg Markets: The Close." (Source: Bloomberg)
Cooks Venture is one of several players angling to revolutionize the chicken industry by combining slower-growing chicken genetics, unrestricted access to lush pasture, and attention to soil and the ecosystem. And it wants to do so at a scale much larger than others, meant to one day rival America’s top poultry companies.
Cooks Venture partners with small farms to set up regenerative agricultural practices from its own IP, which it has also set up at its own 800-acre farm. This includes determining which types of plants will protect the soil itself and sequester carbon in the ground. It also includes measuring soil carbon, nutrition and other biological factors to promote biodiversity and stave off pest populations. According to the company, leading climate scientists believe that if this process was carried out for all farms across the globe, climate change could be reversed.
Across the industry, it takes about 60 days to get a chicken to a customer, said Matthew Wadiak, who runs Cooks Venture, a chicken supplier based in Arkansas and Oklahoma. Sixty days ago, “we didn’t know this was even on the horizon,” he added. “There was essentially no way to plan for it.”
"We had been looking at Cooks Venture but hadn't pulled the trigger on it. But it is a regenerative agriculture program, incredibly high quality poultry, beautiful packaging and, again, it is something on their end they were able to spin up quite quickly, get us product, commit to us we would have a certain amount of product over a specific period of time, and as well as bulk," [...] explained Stephen Corradini, Kings Food Markets chief merchandising and marketing officer.
Most chickens only live for 38 to 42 days, said Matt Wadiak, a founder of Blue Apron and CEO of pasture-raised chicken company Cooks Venture. If those chickens have nowhere to go, they will be euthanized. “The problem is we don’t have a diverse and resilient food system,” Wadiak said. “We have a food system that is inherently flawed, filled with cracks, extremely fragile and overly consolidated.”
(click to listen to the podcast)
CEO of Cooks Venture Matt Wadiak talks about what even cautious eaters don’t know about how their chickens are raised and the potential for happier, more nutrient-dense chickens through better raising practices.
“Some terms defy definition. ‘Sustainable agriculture’ has become one of them,” writes the USDA National Agricultural Library. “In such a quickly changing world, can anything be sustainable? What do we want to sustain?”
Wadiak believes that the vast majority of commercially raised “organic” chicken is essentially greenwashed to make consumers feel good about buying a nominally better product than conventional, factory-farmed chicken. He’s not wrong. Advocates for tighter restrictions on the “organic” label argue that many factory farms use organic feed while confining chickens into cramped spaces, which betrays the philosophy of the organic farming movement. Cooks Venture essentially wants to compete with big farms while staying true to organic philosophy and the humane treatment of the birds.
Matthew Wadiak, Founder and CEO of Cooks Venture and Co-Founder of Blue Apron, joins Cheddar to discuss how regenerative agriculture can fight climate change.
Matthew Wadiak, co-founder of the meal service Blue Apron, is thinking outside the box and outside the cage.
A new food company with ties to Northwest Arkansas said it wants to set itself apart by changing the chicken farming system and raising a better bird.