July 19th marked the day we were all eagerly awaiting, the industry launch of Zero Foodprint Asia
An audience represented by chefs, farmers, academics, environmentalists, scientists, social entrepreneurs, sustainability consultants, and restaurateurs, all ready to hear about our proposed way to transition the food system here in Hong Kong and across Asia to a more regenerative one. It’s exactly what we envision the future of food systems to look like as we believe a renewable food economy is only possible when all stakeholders in our food system partner up and play a part in supporting regenerative agriculture.
Our Food System is Broken
The audience was welcomed by Peggy Chan, Executive Director of ZFPA, Joel Tomas, Director of Partnerships at ZFPA and Anthony Myint, co-founder of Zero Foodprint, who is based in the United States but was able to join us over Zoom. Anthony shared the importance of carbon farming and that through regenerative agriculture, we can solve problems of biodiversity loss, food insecurity, health, and climate change. Ms. Josephine Mak, the founder of Homeland Green HK, took us back to biology class and explained in detail and with passion how we can use soils as carbon sinks and reverse climate change. Dr. Shauhrat Chopra, Janice Leung Hayes and Alvin Li, advisors of ZFPA, joined Ms. Josephine Mak on stage and further continued the conversation and discussed the shift they have noticed within their respective sectors. The overall consensus is to build forward better, redirect investments towards long-term, restorative transformations; while not forgetting that the clock is ticking, therefore that time to act boldly is NOW.
It is evident that our food system is so broken, that we must make systemic changes in production, and not just by offering different choices within the current system. The ZFPA program is designed to cost a restaurant $0 through a 1% charge paid by the customer in three ways; this can be internalised by the operators; by adding a 1% carbon tax at the end of the check; or by increasing the selling price by 1% (so for every $100HKD, increase by $1HKD). The pledges collected will go towards ZFPA’s Restore Fund and will be used to implement healthy soil practices at local farms. With the help of our experts and Advisory Board, ZFPA assesses and verifies grant applications from farmers and continues to monitor data long-term to ensure a transparent and traceable soil carbon sequestration process.
The seven restaurants that stepped up to the challenge and were the first batch of businesses who signed onto the 1% pledge were announced and celebrated. Ando, Bedu, Mono, Mott 32, Uma Nota, Limewood and Sipsong, we’re so grateful for your contributions!
ZFPA’s model is predicated on creating change on acres of land, as opposed to just certifying good practices within the current system. Just a few dollars from restaurant meals or other food purchases, in aggregate, can create acres and acres of healthy soil and shift us from the extractive “conventional” agricultural system to a renewable food system.
As the event passed, and the conversation around carbon drawdown and soil health was established, it was time to introduce the next steps for Zero Foodprint Asia. From next year onwards, partner restaurants will be able to follow our Carbon Neutrality Program. Together with Foodsteps, a business that performs environmental footprint calculations, businesses can now undergo a Life Cycle Assessment of their supply chain, energy and water usage, and waste consumption. ZFPA members will receive an in-depth report with recommendations for reducing emissions. Membership fees will therefore be calculated in relation to the businesses’ operational emissions and are pledged towards the ZFPA Restore Fund. Understanding that the soil carbon sequestration space is only just emerging, and universal standards are only now being developed, we're keeping all eyes and ears on the ball. In the meantime, we've borrowed our headquarters' methodologies and are working on local soil carbon monitoring and verification processes with our advisory board, regional soil scientists, climate & carbon experts, and expect to have a scientifically verified process in place by Q2 of 2022. We’ll keep you posted!
With our world (literally) burning up (or flooding in), we truly need a coalition of change-makers to reverse the damage that industrial agriculture has caused to the environment, our health, food and people. Hong Kong is the city that has the highest number of restaurants per capita in the world, and with the hospitality industry accounting for a whopping 8% of the city’s ecological footprint, the transformation is scalable. Food businesses really can restore us, so let’s take that first step together.