Teton Talks: Sustainability is Our Foundation, Not a Fad
It is no surprise that our planet is experiencing serious climate disruption, polluted air and soils, diminishing supplies of clean water, and food insecurity. Climate change is extremely real and our generation has the ability to take action and contribute to the global reversal of the current trend of land degradation. While there isn’t an overnight solution to climate change, there is a strategy that addresses these issues from the grass up and can fundamentally shift our culture’s relationship with nature. That strategy is called regenerative agriculture.
In our effort to share why TWR strives to create a better future from the grass up, we sat down with Teton Waters Ranch’s CEO, Mike Murray, to gain an inside perspective of how Teton Waters Ranch began, environmental practices, and company mission. Continue reading for full interview:
- Can you give us some background on how Teton Waters Ranch began? Back in 2009, the founders set foot on an abandoned potato farm in Idaho at the base of the Teton Mountains and immediately recognized that the land reaped the destruction of single-crop or “monoculture” farming (when only one crop is grown on a plot of land). The grasslands were non-existent and the soil was just dirt – the farm had to be completely restored. In order to do that sustainably, the team chose regenerative agriculture – a farming system that helps restore native grasslands by letting cattle graze the land, fertilize where they eat, and sequester carbon back into the Earth in the process. Today, that old potato farm is a thriving grassland and we’re proud to be able to support ranches around the world who have the same end goal – to create a solution for consumers that has a positive impact on our planet!
So the founders didn’t actually set out to start a beef company?
Nope! They set out to restore a grassland habitat, and it’s a foundation we’re constantly coming back to. Many great intentions happen by accident, and rehabilitating the farm in Idaho was the ‘aha’ moment. By purposefully placing cattle on grasslands, we are restoring the land while simultaneously providing great products. TWR had the power to contribute and reverse climate change damage, and to support other ranches doing the same.
- Why is Teton Waters Ranch passionate about the regenerative farming system versus other systems? This farming system stands out compared to others because the outcomes push back on current environmental concerns, like climate change. While it takes a bit more time and dedication to connect in the field with like-minded people, the end result is definitely worth it. We are always striving to leave a positive environmental footprint, so moving forward with a system that contributes to reversing the effects of climate change was deemed not just sustainable, but necessary.
- What are the environmental benefits of regenerative agriculture? How does this farming system affect its surrounding lands? There are many environmental benefits of regenerative agriculture! Restoring grasslands has been found to enhance natural habitats by supporting the surrounding ecosystems, wildlife diversity, and watersheds. It’s also a more sustainable food system – when cattle graze and till the land instead of using tractors, they fertilize where they eat and stomp carbon back INTO the Earth vs. emitting it out. This cornerstone in environmental sustainability has enabled us to gain footing as a brand, bring products of the highest quality to market, and continue our journey of leaving a positive carbon footprint!
- How has forming a grass-fed beef company allowed Teton Waters Ranch to address environmental issues? There are several global environmental concerns looming over us, and the effects of climate change is a big one. With soil degradation, air and water pollution already becoming huge issues, and only getting worse, regenerative agriculture is proving to be an effective tool to combat these concerns. Our mission is to partner with ranches around the world that have already been making their positive environmental impact through regenerative agriculture, and collaborate with them to shift beef agriculture from problem to solution.
- Why is transparency so important to Teton Waters Ranch? We are a beef company that truly wants global and national consumers to make quality over quantity decisions when it comes to their meat. It is important that you know how your food was created, where it was sourced, and what it contains. Other companies often stretch to make their beef products better for the planet; for us, high quality beef is merely a byproduct of high quality, environmentally-focused ranching. Your food decisions can help save the planet, one package at a time! While no company is perfect, Teton Waters Ranch wholeheartedly is committed to improve, and we embrace the journey and the imperfections that come with it.
- Where are most of your products sourced? All of our products are sourced from partnered ranches with like-minded outlooks on the 100% grass-fed & grass-finished approach. All ranches practice regenerative agriculture and have been Certified Humane. While in our search to find ranches that are in-line with our morals, we now source globally with the intention of promoting grass-fed, grass-finished, and properly managed cattle around the world. Amongst the ranches that we work and source our food from, many reside in the USA, Australia and New Zealand.
Additional resources on Regenerative Agriculture:
Teton Water Ranch’s Director of Procurement, Ian Chamberlain said, “Regenerative agriculture is a farming system of principles and practices that increase biodiversity, enrich soils, improve watersheds and enhance ecosystem services. Regenerative agriculture aims to capture carbon in soil and aboveground biomass (pastures), reversing current global trends of atmospheric accumulation. At the same time, it offers increased yields, resilience to climate instability, and higher health and vitality for farming and ranching communities.” Read more on his perspective here.