Just wanted to drop a quick note about some amazing news: Epic Bar, which has been an incredible supporter of the Ancestral Health scene and the Savory Institute, has been acquired by General Mills. If you are unfamiliar with epic, that news piece does a good job of describing who and what they are:
The company, started in 2013 by Taylor Collins and Katie Forrest, created a new snack category by incorporating meat into snack bars. They focused on acquiring meat from animals that were grass-fed and pasture-raised, then packaged it with fruit and flavor combinations that hadn’t been seen.
The Epic folks “got” the sustainability story from the beginning. I think I may have made the first introduction between Epic and the Savory Institute, and Epic has been a huge supporter of all their efforts. Epic has provided a product and a venue to take grassfed meat and get it to “the masses” while also supporting the regenerative food production concept embodied by the Savory Institute. That is truly amazing.
Reactions to this event have generally been positive, but there are some who use terms like “sell-out” and “greedy” on the parts of the Epic folks. I’ve talked with Taylor and Katie and my understanding is that this acquisition will only improve their ability to support efforts like the Savory Institute and sustainable food production. I’m doing a special podcast with them to talk about the details, stay tuned for that. Before folks pull out the pitchforks on what should be a celebratory event I’d like you to consider a few things:
1- If you really believe in the ideas underpinning Ancestral health and regenerative agriculture and if you want these ideas to actually matter and affect change on a global scale, something, somewhere, sometime has to “get big.” We have all done a great job of building a grassroots, decentralized system, but it’s in it’s infancy and getting the muscle that a General Mills could bring to this topic is important.
2-Even though it is en vogue to criticise anything and everything related to corporations and “Big Business” these entities are not dumb. The writing is on the wall with regards to our current food production system…it ain’t gonna last in it’s current incarnation. I’ve known this for a long time and folks who look at these problems with an eye towards systems thinking and economics arrive at the same conclusion. What is going to be hard for many of you to square cognitively is that businesses, both big and small, will find ways of (egads!) “making a profit” while driving towards a sustainable future. Not trying to be a dick here, but for some folks this idea will confound them with such cognitive dissonance that they may spontaneously combust. A few large oil companies have looked at the Savory Institute and are incredibly interested in them for what they represent with regards to carbon sequestration (which is a potential profit center for these companies). Someday, some kind of deal will be struck between the SI and a large oil company (for starters). Some will see this for what it is: An amazing opportunity and a ray of hope that did not exist a decade earlier. Others will cultivate some kind of emotional response, because, you know, “big oil.”
I had a much longer list in mind for why this is a good thing but this is enough for now. One thing I’ve learned in my now 17+ years of beating these drums is that most people will arrive to this discussion with their minds made up. A SMALL percentage of folks will be open to critically analyzing things, but the vast majority will be unmoved, no matter what is put before them. Some people will steadfastly argue that General Mills will screw this up and ruin Epic. If you “get” points 1 and 2 above you will understand why this is unlikely to happen. Our world is changing. This process of embracing sustainability is going to happen. If General Mills shits the bed on this it will be too bad for them as the opportunity is staggering. You may think I’m a bit cocksure in all this but none of this relies on some kind of high-minded belief in the “people doing the right thing.” I am confident that the economics will make a move towards sustainability the smart smart (ONLY?) choice for General Mills and other companies. It really cannot be any other way.
Let’s say for a moment however that I’m wrong about that. Let’s say that General Mills is going to screw this up in some way. Well, in that case we have a story of two young entrepreneurs who took on enormous risk, worked their asses off and have garnered a good bit of success in the process. If you can concoct a story in your head in which Taylor and Katie are bad people for working their asses off and being successful…well….
Let’s celebrate this success and give this amazing opportunity the EPIC love and attention it deserves.