maandag, juli 13, 2020

The webeditors have asked Anubhav Kandpal, founder and director of Conscious Kitchen and together with Yannik Bergmann of Soil & Sun Kitchen, to explain the philosophy behind both enterprises. 

Wilde bloemen in de bermThe soil is the foundation

The soil is the foundation of all agriculture. In order to provide a global population with healthy food, the soil must be healthy. But in the course of modernization in society, we happened to start treating the soil as a commodity that can be exploited to increase its output, stretching it potentially beyond the limits of its capacity.

As our population grew and the demand for food grew, we discovered ways to grow our food quicker, more efficiently and in greater volumes. With the increase in demand and development of new technologies, artificial sunlight in the form of glow lamps, combined with soil that’s reinforced with industrially produced fertilizers we started to grow to maximize yield.

In our rush for commodifying food, food production and industrial agriculture we have created an abundance of food that can be enjoyed by all. People like us in the developed world do not ever have to face the reality of ‘not enough food’.

But this progress comes at a cost.

Food waste numbers are rising. Historically the waste of food was not something people could afford, especially during the great economic depression of the 1930’s. Indigenous people and traditional practices that survive to this day and age respect the land and the earth to a degree that they don’t let any food go to waste. They know what scarcity is so they take measures to utilise their food resources the best they can. We don’t know what scarcity is, most of us have not experienced it and as a result, we do not think twice while throwing food away. The out-of-sight-out-of-mind consequences of consumption and waste still plague us today.

Our soil is being exhausted. Or it already has. In our efforts to produce as much as we can for economic profit and prosperity, we have taken from the soil but not necessarily given enough back to maintain its health. Topsoil, the nutrient-rich organic part of the soil takes hundreds to thousands of years to build up under natural conditions. Historically, many past civilizations' collapses can be attributed to the depletion of the topsoil (1). It is believed that the Sumerian civilisation was partly destroyed because of desertification of their topsoil (2). The Mayans had a similar problem that researchers think led to the collapse of their civilisation. The expansion of their civilisation caused topsoil depletion and erosion (3). Their heavy deforestation led to a decrease in annual rainfall which, combined with erosion, heavily impacted the carbon stores in the soil from which it is still recovering to this day (4).

Conventional agriculture encourages the depletion of topsoil because the soil must be ploughed and replanted each year. When topsoil is depleted, it can become susceptible to erosion and once that happens it is not arable anymore and will take a long time to naturally come to a healthy fertile state. We can of course help this process along and start restoring soil back to health, before it is too late. Sustainable techniques attempt to slow erosion through the use of cover crops in order to build organic matter in the soil (5).

As Soil and Sun Kitchen, we aim to create an awareness about these issues by serving ‘Meals with a Message’. Whether it’s our catering service, meatless cooking workshops or teambuilding activities, we strive to restore our connection to our food. We source locally as much as possible to reduce the carbon footprint of our meals while at the same time, encouraging a seasonal menu that has benefits of boosting immunity during seasonal change as well as aligning with our nutritional needs that change from season to season.

Through practical activities and inspiring talks, we aim to make as many people as we can care about their food, where it comes from and what the impact of the food production process is. Through this awareness, action will follow and collective action is what we need right now. The only way we can make change is together.

Anubhav Kandpal

Soil & Sun Kitchen is currently working on a website and will be up soon. If you would like to get in touch with us for how we can collaborate or co-create with you then send us an email at and we’ll be in touch!