How a clothing company aims to fix our broken food chain
By Yvon Chouinard, founder, Patagonia
The tradition and culture of food have always been important to us at Patagonia. On our many travels, the meals—cedar-planked salmon with First Nations friends in BC, tsampa in yak-hair tents in Tibet, asado and chimichurri with Patagonian gauchos—become a vital part of the experience. What we eat does more than just fill our stomachs and nourish our bodies; good food lifts our spirits and helps us understand the world a little better.
So it only makes sense that we’d want to share some of our favorite food with our customers. But that’s just the beginning; we also believe there is great opportunity—and an urgent need—for positive change in the food industry. With Patagonia Provisions, our goals are the same as with everything we do: We aim to make the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, and perhaps most important, inspire solutions to the environmental crisis.
And nowhere is the crisis more pressing than in the food industry. Today, modern technology, chemistry and transportation combine to put more distance between people and their food than ever before. We harvest salmon indiscriminately or farm them in open-water feedlots, putting wild salmon in peril. We overgraze our prairies, fill our livestock with antibiotics, and drain fossil aquifers to water unsustainable crops. Chemicals reign supreme to maximize production, and the unknown impact of genetically modified organisms hovers over the entire industry. In short, our food chain is broken.
Patagonia Provisions is about finding solutions to repair the chain. We started, as we always do, by rolling up our sleeves and learning everything we can about the sourcing of each product. In some cases, we’re adopting the best practices already in existence; in others, we’re finding new ways of doing things, which, as we might have guessed, frequently end up being the old ways.
In the coming years, we’ll continue to offer a growing selection of foods that address environmental issues, and continue to encourage support of local food producers. We’ll keep working with our favorite chefs to create the kind of healthy, nutritious food we like to eat on the trail and share with friends at home.
If we do our job, our success can help establish a model for a new kind of food chain, one where we, as the Zen master might say, “turn around and take a step forward.”