How Patagonia Is Reshaping Sustainable Food Through Their Provisions Line
A few years ago, Birgit Cameron visited The Land Institute in Kansas to talk with founder Wes Jackson about a special grain called Kernza that the agricultural nonprofit was breeding. A cousin of wheat, Kernza is a perennial grass that never needs to be plowed under and replanted, so it grows deep roots that prevent soil erosion and draw carbon out of the atmosphere, sequestering it underground. The grain exemplifies the regenerative agriculture principles that Patagonia Provisions promotes, and Cameron wanted to buy it. There was only one problem. Kernza wasn’t yet on the market, and Jackson told her it would take 20 years to grow it at a commercial scale.
She took one look at the number of bags already stacked to the ceiling of his warehouse and said, “Wes, I think you’ve got enough.” All Cameron had to do was come up with a use. And that’s how the company’s Long Root Pale Ale, brewed with a mix of Kernza and barley, came to be. (It now offers a Long Root Wit too.)
Considered sourcing like this is what makes Patagonia Provisions, which Cameron co-founded in 2012, the most improbable food brand in America. Each of the 40-plus products the company makes, including canned fish, dehydrated soups, snacks and beer, originates in a mission, not a trend. It’s in keeping with the ethos of its mother business, Patagonia, which has long been a leader in sustainable outdoor apparel. “Every single thing that we build has a very deep reason for being,” she says. “We create products to solve a problem, to show an issue or to create a new supply chain.”