We all eat, drink and use things throughout the day. Whether we’re reluctant or shameless consumers, we are all consumers to one degree or another, dependent on things we don’t grow or make for ourselves. This is a fact of our modern lives.
The problem is, the stuff we use often arrives in a form that makes it all too easy to forget the effort and energy that went into making what we can so easily grab off the shelf.
Have you ever wondered about the entire life cycle of, say, a cup of tea?
Your two-gram tea bag has travelled miles, filled pages in a passport, crossed deserts and seas.
Well, if it’s a big brand-name tea, chances are it was sourced from about twenty different regions of the world. The tea leaves grew on plants, rooted in soil, where microbes and minerals worked hard to build them up. When they were mature enough, they were harvested by people (likely, by hand), and shipped to factories where other people preserved them through drying and fermenting, then bundled them into bulk bags. Next, the bags were driven to packhouses to be individually graded, sorted, and labelled according to their flavour profiles. They were shipped throughout the world and stored once again, only to be bought by intermediaries, who repackaged and sold the new bags to multinational corporations. The corporations put their purchase into their own branded boxes, then trucked them to a warehouse in your country. When the local supermarket needed to stock its shelves, the boxes were delivered to your neighbourhood grocer. Only then did you recognise it as your favourite make of Earl Grey and pluck it off the shelf.
Think about it. Your two-gram tea bag has travelled miles, filled pages in a passport, crossed deserts and seas. It wasn’t just human hands that brought it to you, but insects and nutrients, water droplets and photosynthesis.
We get it. It’s difficult to wrap your mind around the convoluted process of what gets so neatly labelled, the value chain. It’s even more mind-boggling to consider that most everything we consume takes a similar journey, and that what we buy influences the type of journey our product takes—whether we’re aware of it or not.
Grounded is all about repairing these connections. We work with farmers in landscapes throughout Africa, supporting agriculture practices that, in the long run, are better for us all. We work to bring excellent goods to market, and to ensure they remain of the highest quality for buyers. We work to prove to consumers that all this matters—for them and the environment.
We’ll share our experiences, and we’ll be honest: this is not a story about turning the world from brown to green overnight. It is not a story about making farmers rich and consumers happy through some kind of miracle product.
We’d like to share some of the amazing things we’ve learned about how our food system works. We invite you to think with us on what we like about it, and what we think should probably change.
This is a story about how hard it is to transform a system that is big and powerful and so ingrained. It’s a story about making mistakes and learning the hard way. It is a story about learning and re-learning that there are no generic protocols for dealing with nature.
Don’t worry, it’s not all uphill. The only way to approach this journey is with the support of a community, a bit of courage and openness, and a good dose of humour. (We’ve also found that a steady supply of beer and nachos works wonders, too). We want our blog to entertain and stimulate, to bring clarity and, every so often, inspiration. Maybe you get a few new insights and tools? Or a bit of food for thought.