Kyle and AC chat with Juan Guzman at Artisan Tropic
Artisan Tropic is supporting regenerative agriculture with its chip products made from plantain and cassava.
In this episode, we learn about the family origins of Artisan Tropic, the design and implementation process behind their regenerative transition, their plans for the future, and Juan’s thoughts on scaling regenerative agriculture.
😷 The autoimmune diagnosis that sparked the brand
💯 Being 100% family-owned and operated
⚽ Juan working on the brand while playing pro soccer
🎨 Designing their regenerative transition with Terra Genesis
🌴 Using their own farm to pilot regen for other suppliers
🏅 The regen practices in their plantain and cassava systems
🤯 Doubling cassava yields with regen
♻️ Commercializing the entire agroforestry rotation
🔥 Juan’s experience in the reNourish Studio
💫 Increasing consciousness through food to “scale” regen
ReGen Brands Recap #23 - Trade Up Your Chip - (RECAP LINK)
Disclaimer: This transcript was generated with AI and is not 100% accurate.
Kyle Krull - 0:00:16
Welcome to The ReGen Brands Podcast. This is a place for consumers, operators and investors to learn about the consumer brands supporting regenerative agriculture and how they're changing the world. This is your host, Kyle, joined by my co-host AC, who is going to take us into the episode.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:00:33
On this episode we have Juan Guzman, who is a Co-Founder and the CEO at Artisan Tropic. Artisan Tropic is supporting regenerative agriculture with its chip products made from plantain and cassava. In this episode, we learn about the family origins of Artisan Tropic, the design and implementation process behind their regenerative transition, and both their plans for the future, plus Juan's thoughts on scaling regenerative agriculture at large. Juan is an old soul and an amazing storyteller. We definitely felt like we were on the ground in Colombia with his crew for most of this episode and we're excited to share it with you all. Here we go, The ReGen Brands Podcast. Today we are fired up to have Juan Guzman of Artisan Tropic, so welcome Juan.
Juan Guzman - 0:01:18
Thanks. Good to be with you guys.
Kyle Krull - 0:01:21
For those who don't know Juan, he's now absolute legend, doing some killer stuff in the space, working with a bunch of farmers out of Colombia. Is that the only place for farmers are at or you get some more relationships that we don't know about?
Juan Guzman - 0:01:34
Everything's in in Colombia right now.
Kyle Krull - 0:01:38
Yeah, and the level of authenticity we'll dig into a little bit, but it's it's a really cool story. But before we dive too deep into all of that, give the audience who may not be familiar with artists and topic a quick overview of like what products do you manufacture and where can they find you today?
Juan Guzman - 0:01:55
Yeah, awesome. We we make plantain and cassava chips. Everything sourced and produced in the coffee region of Colombia. And we are in about 5000 points of sale across the country. You know, your Whole Foods sprouts HEB now and targets kind of grown distribution into the conventional space a little more.
Kyle Krull - 0:02:24
What's your favorite steel?
Juan Guzman - 0:02:27
Ah, it's hard. Probably the jalapeno kasava. Hmm, I'm a spicy guy.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:02:35
I need, I need to get my hands on that. Shout out to mothers market. I picked up some of the cassava chips there in Irvine, CA this past weekend. The the thinnest chip but also very durable and can hold up to a giant dip of guac which is what I need. So the eating experience was like amazing because how thin the chip was but like it was still strong enough to hold up to my massive dip. So like kudos there man, it was phenomenal.
Juan Guzman - 0:03:01
That's a good, that's a good thickness to dip ratio. So what you're looking for?
Anthony Corsaro - 0:03:08
Juan take us, take us back in time to just how this whole thing got started, to give us the origin story of how artists and traffic came to me.
Juan Guzman - 0:03:18
Yeah, yeah, I'll try and keep it brief, but my my family moved to the states in 1994. My parents from from Colombia with me and my sister, and my parents had a food distribution company in North Carolina. Distributing not not the same quality of snacks as we produce now. My sister had, I'll name them. They're distributing Takis, which is a really popular, you know, fried corn kind of snack. And my sister had some health challenges when she was in college and. Got diagnosed with an autoimmunity called Hashimoto's.
Juan Guzman - 0:03:59
And traditional medicine basically said there's nothing we can do. You gotta take medicine the rest of your life. And we ended up meeting, meeting a nutritional therapist who told her a different story and and told her, you know, it's a long process, but we can heal the root cause of this and. And it's all about food and it's about eating real food and nursing your body and healing your gut. And so she went on this journey and then our whole family went on the journey together.
Juan Guzman - 0:04:24
Of learning and and just curiously observing how to eat real food the way that our ancestors did.
Kyle Krull - 0:04:44
Well, what what?
Juan Guzman - 0:04:45
You know, I say the whole family.
Kyle Krull - 0:04:46
Because diagnosis and the journey starting.
Juan Guzman - 0:04:51
Yeah, so she was in college. She was about 2011, 2012. When when she was going through the process, it took a year and a bit of like very, very intentional healing. And I say that our family went on the journey because I was living at home at the time. And it was kind of like a a game game changer decision from my mom coming home after the first meeting with the nutritional therapist and seeing the pantry and going, OK, we're going to do this, we got to like clear the pantry out and start over. And that's what she did, you know. So.
Juan Guzman - 0:05:28
Took everything out that wasn't, you know, clean real food and and started over. Went to Whole Foods for the first time ever, I think. And I spent way more money, way more money on food than than she ever had. And that's kind of how it started, so.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:05:51
I can. I can totally relate to that. So I have an autoimmune disease and I took my family on that same journey and it's amazing how many people in the regen ag space, come from a human health background or like some sort of issue that they've had or a family member have has had, which is obviously not not a great thing, but I think that specific outcome coming from it is an amazing thing. And you know we have to like leverage this whole food as medicine nutrient density movement. I think for a lot of people that the the climate and the biodiversity and all the other pieces are going to be super important, but it's not going to resonate with everyone, whereas I think the human health and food is medicine piece will resonate with everyone. So love to love to hear that and just I'm sure you are tying it in, I've seen it in kind of some of the marketing material about her story and and all that. So how did you how did y'all go from? This this experience kind of has a family too, creating a creating a CPG product.
Juan Guzman - 0:06:50
Yeah, exactly. So I. You know, left us off before Artisan Tropic started, but that that's where the next piece unfolds where, you know, my parents had some experience in the food space and distributing and and selling snacks and now have this new kind of passion and vision for creating a a product that was real food, that was clean, that was going to be something that people with health conditions could eat and enjoy and know that it was real food. And so we saw the opportunity to create a brand and position plantain and cassava chips as a really, really clean alternative to other salty snacks. And then our roots in Colombia kind of aligned with, yeah, you know, plantain and cassava being such staple foods and in Latin America and the tropics all around the world. And so that's kind of how the the idea started to brew and then the the concept for the brand began and and we really saw the opportunity to. To position you know plantain and cassava chip as a better for you alternative where in in Colombia specifically it's it's seen much more as like a a cheap commodity snack.
Juan Guzman - 0:07:59
Umm. And and so that's kind of how it started and. Yeah, initially the the distribution was through my parents, you know local distribution company and that's kind of how we started to to grow and scale. But it was very, very slow and and sustainable from the start. We weren't trying to grow at a super rapid and uncontrollable pace. That's that's how it started.
Kyle Krull - 0:08:47
It's super interesting. And I think, you know, one of the things that really resonates with me is like your family is going on this journey and they're learning about health and then they're also realizing that their business is sort of doing the opposite of what like the family journey is going towards. So like that juxtaposition of trying to become healthier and realizing the power of food is medicine, but at the same time continuing to have to sell because that's the business model. These snacks that aren't necessarily great for human health and I love the fact that it was like, OK, well we've, we've gone on this journey, the family, we've seen the power of this. You know can we utilize this distribution model, this distribution business to try to like incorporate these acts, some of the points of distribution that we already have. So I think that's really cool #1, #2, I feel like you're skipping out on a lot of the nitty gritty can't be as simple as like, you know we just called.
Juan Guzman - 0:09:37
Kyle Krull - 0:09:39
We threw it in a bag. Here we are. You know, there's gotta be more to it than that. So like what was as a, you know, obviously you guys had a lot more experience with food sales and distribution than most of the founders that we've had on this call. You know, you weren't necessarily super grain, but you would never really created your own brand before that I'm aware of. So what was that process like? Why did you choose the name Artisan Tropic? How did you first cultivate those relationships with the farmers in Colombia? And then from there based on, you know, my understanding of the brand, you know, we started with super clean snacks and then we sort of.
Kyle Krull - 0:09:40
Activity towards regenerative. So tell us about that transition and why that was important to you and the family.
Juan Guzman - 0:10:17
Yeah man, great questions. Tell me if I go off track because that was a lot of questions, but.
Kyle Krull - 0:10:23
Yeah, it was, I don't, you know, easy. It's like 9 questions at the same time. So that's.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:10:30
That's usually what I.
Juan Guzman - 0:10:30
Do. It's good, it's good. I think I got him so. Really fascinating and and you know one of the things that we from the start and and nine years later now are very proud of and and very excited about is that this is 100% family owned and operated. And Oh yeah, not just you know completely funded by by the family, but also we have you know all of my direct family working with the business and then additionally we have about seven or eight other cousins, aunts, uncles that all work with the company and. So we, we really love that and that's kind of the culture that creates the the energy and the products that we make you know so.
Juan Guzman - 0:11:13
An additional piece of that family story is that we initially look for copacker and a Co manufacturer in Colombia. And like you said, we have experience by parents, especially in the food snack distribution side of the business. But starting your own brand in the natural space was a huge lack curb massive and a lot of the things that we knew really helped, but in in a lot of ways as well, it was like a completely different business. Yeah. And so one of the pieces was finding to come in and facture. We found a great Co manufacturer in the coffee region of Colombia and we started working with them.
Juan Guzman - 0:11:59
And that first meeting we had with them. One of the one of the members of that company was also the plantain farmer who was supplying all the plantain. His son was at the meeting. He's sitting across from my sister and he just love at first sight. He's just like, obsessed.
Kyle Krull - 0:12:38
With have to pause you right there.
Juan Guzman - 0:12:40
Kyle Krull - 0:12:41
In as you talk about the Family Fare and I was like man, so if anybody wants to get involved do they have to marry into the.
Juan Guzman - 0:12:46
Kyle Krull - 0:12:48
There's literally a thought that I had and now like I feel like your stories heading that direction, so I just have to call that.
Juan Guzman - 0:12:53
Out. Yeah, man, it's it's amazing. So he falls, he's like shot through the heart, starts pursuing.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:13:00
Juan Guzman - 0:13:01
And they end up getting married. A few years later and you know, my sister has a kid now and he works with the, with the company and you know, we still have a great relationship with his father who's really a pioneer man and and if we talked about the transition to regenerative agriculture, he is. Just a legend and A and a real example for kind of the curiosity that's led to where we are. And so really, really like, there's so many different aspects of it that are all within the family now, right? And so. We start working with this Co manufacturer and they were awesome. They were really, really great.
Juan Guzman - 0:13:43
Top quality all the certifications that we needed and wanted to position the brand like we did. They were very helpful.
Kyle Krull - 0:13:56
People certifications were important to you at that time.
Juan Guzman - 0:14:01
So non-GMO project was one. And then Paleo was kind of. It I remember that actually because I was. So I've been working with the company from the start in a lot of different functions and roles. And I remember Paleo, that Paleo certification when it was first, it was almost around the time when we started like 2014 that they were starting and Paleo was pretty big at the moment and we we really thought it would be a an appealing thing to have on the packaging. For consumers who are learning that, you know, just ancestral way of eating. Really. Yeah. And I remember, man, like this lady, she was starting this thing, but she also had a little market running out of her apartment and like she was buying our product and selling it. But then a few months down the road realized that was not the business model that was going to make her successful and she like really pivoted towards the Paleo certification. And, you know, that's become a really big thing now.
Juan Guzman - 0:14:40
Well, it was that gluten free, gluten free certification. Those are the three that we we began with and saw that. Are important and necessary to to position the product and the the better for you natural space. Right. And so I'll continue with you know, the the relationship was awesome. We began to grow slowly.
Juan Guzman - 0:15:30
A lot of a lot of learning moments along the way about quality and packaging and. You you asked about Artisan Tropic and you know. True to the family, the family, origins and story, we kind of started a a thread with our whole family and Hanson cousins. For ideas around the name for the brand and everyone threw out a bunch of ideas. And my aunt, who is my mom's twin sister.
Juan Guzman - 0:16:11
Was the one who had the idea for Artisan Tropic and. Everybody really liked it and it kind of stuck. It kind of stuck out above the rest. All the other options, artists and obviously being you know the the nature of the product that's so artisanal. Every, every single batch is different because plantain ripens very differently. Cassava, you know, grows in the ground and every single plant of cassava is very different. So there's the artisan piece and then the Tropic because we we started.
Juan Guzman - 0:16:20
Now sourcing food that was really staple to the tropics. So I was kind of the the inspiration for the name and.
Kyle Krull - 0:16:58
That's great. I'm, I'm curious what what was the worst name that somebody put?
Juan Guzman - 0:17:03
Kyle Krull - 0:17:04
I just curiosity what was once were like wow, really glad we didn't go that route.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:17:09
We're about to piss off one of the ants here.
Juan Guzman - 0:17:13
That's a great question and I I'm sure we have emails or text somewhere. I I have no idea though. I should. I'll dig that up. That's such a good question.
Kyle Krull - 0:17:25
That'll be a good follow up. We'll put it in the newsletter, yeah, so so please dig it up because we'd love to know.
Juan Guzman - 0:17:29
I do. Yeah. Yeah, I'll find that.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:17:32
Before you go to the cause, last question about transitioning to regenerative, you were also a professional soccer player at some point. So how was that interwoven with this brand coming together and you working on the brand like what were those timelines like?
Juan Guzman - 0:17:48
Yeah man, so. I played. I played soccer full time professionally up until 2021 and.
Kyle Krull - 0:17:58
I traveled a lot I did not know.
Juan Guzman - 0:17:59
This this is late all over the place. Yeah. Yeah, it was really. It was really special and and. Really a childhood dream that I was able to to. To fulfill and and I'm really thankful for those years, but I'm also really thankful that I was able to stay connected and plugged into the family business. And like I said at the beginning, you know, I did a little bit of everything. So I kind of had my, my hands and a little bit of knowledge around all the different aspects. I was involved with online fulfillment. I did a lot of ecommerce stuff. I did accounting, I did invoicing, I was working on certifications, I did some key account sales management.
Juan Guzman - 0:18:22
And I, you know, a lot of teammates had to supplement their income by coaching in the afternoons or doing different things. And I always had a really stable and awesome job to keep me busy in the afternoons because you're pretty much training all morning and done till done about noon, lunchtime and. You have, you know, 5-6 hours to to be productive and wow and do stuff. So I was plugged into to the family business the whole time and. Really thankful that my parents wanted that encourage that and and allowed me to be very flexible no matter where I was living.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:19:29
I can totally relate to that. So we share more things in common than we do before this call. My family operates a distribution of food distribution business and the vast majority of the family has worked there are you know still does and the the totality of rules that you just mentioned are the different functions of the business and having exposure to all those functions I think is the best possible way to bring anyone in any business especially a family member where there might be. I complacency or folks inside the organization might think oh this person only has this job because their last name or whatever that may be. And having done something similar like I would love to see more you know more brands have leadership that has has worked in that kind of totality and we need to bring like more well-rounded skill sets like that into kind of the regen brands field. So just just something of of like common ground there that I think is a great learning tool maybe for other brands or people think about building.
Juan Guzman - 0:20:24
Yeah, yeah. It, it wasn't really planned, but I'm very thankful. You know, I've learned a little bit of every, every facet of business along the way and and it's true for a lot of other family members, you know, that have done a lot of different roles because we're a lean team and we're, you know. Kind of having to to do a lot of different things at different times throughout the the nine years and yeah it's beneficial. I think it's a great thing, it's a great point Anthony. So as far as kind of the the transition to. Regenerative agriculture and and this focus. You know, I mentioned my my sister's father-in-law and him really being like an inspiration and a pioneer in the space.
Juan Guzman - 0:21:06
Because when we were first starting we we started to go visit his farms and visit his father, so. It it's something that they've been doing for generations and. Um, to really kind of understand his heart behind why they, why they love this. You know, why they're so passionate about growing plantains and. And some of the things that he was kind of starting to think about, you know, organic certification and biodynamic farming and different concepts that we've never heard about and.
Juan Guzman - 0:21:42
So it was through that that we started to learn about these ideas and to become curious about. You know, it's the way that we started this company was to make really, really great food that was not just good for the planet, but great for people. Then the more we learned about regenerative agriculture, you couldn't look away and you couldn't ignore the fact that this was the best way to produce the the cleanest and most nutrient dense snacks that we could. And it was around, you know, mid 2020 that I, I believe me and my sister both heard a podcast with Doctor Zach Bush. And I remember that being like a real pivotal moment.
Juan Guzman - 0:22:46
Uh, for us and and. Really wanting to to understand more and go go deeper into. Educating ourselves around what this could look like. So we started to to. Yeah, ask questions and and try to get in touch with people in the space and we got introduced to the folks from Terra Genesis International.
Juan Guzman - 0:23:08
Which is this amazing organization, um specialized in, you know, permaculture and regenerative agriculture consulting for brands and they work with, you know, a lot of clothing brands with bands and timberland and The North Face I believe and. We started a conversation with them around what we were, what we were trying to learn and do. And we ended up, you know, signing on to do a project with them to really analyze our supply system and see what the opportunities were for our our main to, you know, inputs which are planted in cassava and how we could design a system that would be regenerative and. You know the first time that I understood this like regeneration is not an end point, it's a a scale and a journey and a direction. And you know the the seven or eight months that we worked with them was as much as it was like an end product of this incredible design and and you know report that they gave us, it was like such an education to to learn from them and understand.
Juan Guzman - 0:24:08
Regeneration and they really planted a lot of seeds around. You know, this is great. We're designing this agricultural concept for the company and very important. But what about, like what about the mindset and the business practices and, you know, all of these other things that regeneration has to encompass and so. That was awesome. Really really love those guys. Still stay in touch with them and and you know stay up to date on on the progress of what we're doing but the.
Juan Guzman - 0:24:59
The product of that time with them was we have a family farm which is in in the heart of the Colombian coffee region. I failed to mention we transitioned after working with this copacker for the 1st. Five years we transition to build our own manufacturing facility in the coffee.
Kyle Krull - 0:25:34
Juan Guzman - 0:25:36
And so that was. Yeah, really, really beautiful, incredible. It's, it's right in the middle of an active plantain farm and wow, it's fascinating. And that was finished and started, you know, operating in 2019. And so we we have our own family farm and it. Produces about 1/5 of the the product that we need for our volume right now.
Juan Guzman - 0:26:00
And. The opportunity we saw with their genesis was to really focus on that farm and use it as a pilot. For for these design concepts and and the way to first of all test it, the profitability of it the the production of it and then to be able to use that as a model for other farmers in the region to see what's possible because in a lot of ways the obstacle or the hesitation to. These ideas is like, I don't know if that'll work. Like that's a big risk to take, you know? And so that was kind of the way that the the project with Sarah Genesis involved in.
Juan Guzman - 0:26:47
What began, you know, the journey that we're on right now.
Kyle Krull - 0:27:00
Yeah you know there's there's four things I want to cover up and counting because we super appreciate the information. That was a ton. Number one was the passionate people in regen. You mentioned your sister's father-in-law and how why he was so passionate about this and this is one of my favorite things in working with all these different brands. Do we. I mean this is the first episode after Expo West where for me I was finally able to connect with a number of these people. I've been talking to you for years literally and connect in person one you being one of them and to really like feel the energy and the passion and. Those rooms for people who are talking about changing the food system for the better, you know anything like you mentioned before, getting more nutrient dense food in people's hands, food is medicine, helping to heal the planet, mitigating the climate crisis, etcetera. So I just want to highlight that passion you mentioned and I think that's contagious. And for those who work in this space, we all sort of feel like similar passion. Two you mentioned the Zach Bush podcast and one of the other things I think is really interesting around. Those who are involved in regen and really trying to push it forward is they almost all have that aha moment. There's like that gateway moment like, you know, I heard about this through kiss the ground or the Zach Bush podcast or you know, maybe it was reading through soil like Gabe Brown's book, something like that. And it's like, I don't know, too many other times. Like I don't remember the first time I heard about organic, I don't remember the first time I heard about non-GMO or gluten free, you know, but for the region there's something like that resonates that people really start to understand something like this is going to affect the rest of my life.
Kyle Krull - 0:27:56
In some capacity. So I think that's super interesting. I completely forgot what number three was because I'm. But maybe it'll come back. #4 what I love about you mentioned, you know, supply chains are hard for brands. Most brands don't have the ability to single source anything from one particular farm. And what I love about what you mentioned with the pilot on your own family farm is it's leading by example and it's, it's transitioning an entire supply chain and it's saying like, hey guys, we're going to take this risk first. We're going to, you know, do the test on our own farm and we're really going to see how we can make this work and I don't want to get too far ahead in the story.
Kyle Krull - 0:28:39
But the fact that you guys are willing to take that risk and then hopefully like get others to to see what you've been able to do and to to help them implement those practices is just such a cool like leadership moment that you and your family had done. So I just really want to commend you guys for for stepping up in that way.
Juan Guzman - 0:29:25
Also thanks man. Yeah well remember if you if you remember .3, just interrupt me, but. Those are those are very true posted. You know, I share that same, I share that same sentiment around meeting you guys in person last week like. And in a lot, in a lot of ways. I was only there a couple of days and I got home like absolutely wiped and drained and you know.
Juan Guzman - 0:29:44
Different people are have different experiences around this, but like when I walk through a show like that, there's so much energy around things that really, really like deplete me. Hmm. But, but interactions with you guys and with, you know, all the other brands that are in this space, like really energized me. You gave me life, gave me hope, gave me vision and passion. And so it was just a really special to see you guys in person and.
Juan Guzman - 0:30:08
Uh. Very, very different from like, walking around the rest of the show, you know?
Kyle Krull - 0:30:33
Love to hear that. And I mean we're going a little bit off track here, but for those who are on the show, there's like, I don't know, AC probably knows how many regen brands were there.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:30:43
There, Patrick Smith at Wolf Tree Ventures put out a map and he used our list and his list, and it was 63. Not all of them are like fully regenerative, but that's people that have made some sort of regenerative claim or have some sort of regenerative initiative.
Kyle Krull - 0:30:57
Yeah. I mean, I don't know how many total brands there are there, but I would assume that's like 1% or less of the total exhibiting brands there, 2%.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:31:05
Yeah, there's like there's like around 33 grand. There's like around 3000 brands. So Patrick said in his release that it was around 2% of of exhibitors.
Kyle Krull - 0:31:13
So, so to Juan's point, as we walk around this show and it almost feels like it's not necessarily like. Team regen and like everybody else. But that's kind of how it feels. And so when you're on the show and you're just like wanting to be excited about these brands to to the point of like energy depletion, you're seeing all of this quote innovation. And it's really difficult as somebody who has been bitten by the region bug, if you will, to see all this other stuff there and it's just like, well. Kind of, kind of what's the point, you know, like if it's not regen, why are we innovating in that direction anyways?
Anthony Corsaro - 0:31:49
You know we we could have a whole podcast episode dedicated to the false promises of of food tech. But I'll I'll leave that for a second. I the the big take away that I had that could have been your #3. Kyle is on the Terrigenesis piece is like a lot of the certification bodies are doing amazing work. We love them. We support them. They're awesome, but they're usually practices or outcomes focused or both. And Terrigenesis is saying, wait, hold on, we're design focused. We're not even there yet. We're literally like. We, we all, we all talk a good game about regen being contextual, but like I feel like Terra Genesis walks that walk maybe better than anyone else. And so I just think that's really cool. And Juan would love to hear like through that process, what were some things that came from that and like what, what changed to make to, to put you higher on the regenerative continuum or what practices do you implement or like what, what really came out of that design process?
Kyle Krull - 0:32:44
Just for the record, real quick, that was better than my #3. Still remember.
Juan Guzman - 0:32:48
Better. Good. Good to work. Yeah, man. Great question. The, the. Uh.
Juan Guzman - 0:32:58
Contextual nature of what TGI does is is phenomenal and you know the the guys. Yeah, Chris personally, he was there and, you know, walked the farms and met the farm. You know, he was there in person and understood kind of dynamics and he understands Latin culture as well, which is. Yeah, you talk about.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:33:21
Juan Guzman - 0:33:22
Like it's a huge deal right? Regenerative in the tropics, growing plantain and cassava is a very different idea than a cattle farmer in Wisconsin or you know, so it's very context specific and. And that was one of the things that we started to learn with TI and and the resulting report and and kind of recommendations around our supply. Had to do with, you know, cover drops, perennial intercropping, rotational cropping. The incorporation of compost on the farms and. Also understanding that like cassava and plantain are two completely different crops, So what? Some of the concepts around plantain are very very different than some of the concepts around cassava and.
Juan Guzman - 0:34:05
So they designed you know a couple of different models and and context specific designs for plantain and cassava. Umm. And and again one of the things that we discovered and kind of had to have this conversation with TI about was, hey man, like we have a brand in a business that needs plantain and cassava. So there is a spectrum of regeneration which is like an agroforest and you know, it's just like the most biodiverse thing you could have and that is awesome, but specific to the, the brand and the products that we're producing like we have to prioritize. The two crops that we need, right? Can we, can we grow in this spectrum towards more biodiversity without, you know, suffering? Like we don't have enough raw material to produce the snacks we need? Yeah.
Juan Guzman - 0:35:02
And so. The the concepts around plantain are are very traditional and basic for the region. Basically plantain used to be grown with coffee and cacao. And even casava, that was like the the way things were done for generations. It was resilient. It was, you know, it it fed a community, right? You can. You can't just feed a community plantain and.
Juan Guzman - 0:35:38
Conventional agriculture started to say, hey, let's be more efficient and more productive and just wipe out all the coffee in the cacao and plant, you know, monocrop, a bunch of plantain. And so a lot of design around plantain is, hey, can we reintroduce coffee, reintroduce some cacao, can we plant some avocado trees that are a little taller in the shrada? Can we incorporate some, some like perennial trees that are going to be really great not just for. The soil material and the green manure that will give a lot of nutrients to the soil, but also attract a lot of bird species that are going to be helpful in keeping keeping pests off the plants, right? Like there's so much.
Juan Guzman - 0:36:19
In the design and and one of the things as well is. In the tropics there's a lot of rain and there's heavy, heavy winds and so the design that TGI. Came up with incorporated, you know, rain resilience, so like really protecting riparian zones on the farms and trying to use perennials and bigger trees to create wind barriers that are going to protect the the plantains which are very susceptible to heavy winds.
Kyle Krull - 0:37:16
It's insane. You know, I consider myself relatively, like, I know a little bit about regen now, more so in the brand space than, you know, the actual on farm practices. But like the level of thoughtfulness that goes into the design of that agricultural system is just mind boggling. I love the, like, let's attract the predators that are going to reduce the amount of like tests or sorry, pests that are on there. So like instead of using pesticides like we attract herbs, you know, it's just like it's such common sense to work with nature for trying to reduce synthetic inputs. And then the wind barriers and the rain barriers, like it's just crazy to have to think about all that at the same time. While also to your point, how do we ensure that we're still producing enough product that we can like, you know, supply our company while.
Juan Guzman - 0:37:58
Yeah, yeah, yeah, man. So, you know. You one of the things obviously along this continuum is eliminating herbicides and pesticides and chemical inputs that you know not not only deplete the the nutrient quality of the food, but also destroy the the microbiome and the soil Biome and so. The elimination of that is a continuum, and we're like. Hoping to get to a place where we don't need any inputs, but immediately the transition wants to use, you know, real organic inputs. And the. You know, one of the things that I believe Zach Bush said or one of these podcasts along the the learning journey was, you know, can can we, can we go back to valuing resiliency over efficiency?
Kyle Krull - 0:38:58
Juan Guzman - 0:39:00
Not not at the cost of efficiency like. We want things to be efficient, but not to the point where they could become completely unreliable. And so one of the examples in the tropics is when you have so much rain. The the lack of cover crops and living roots in the soil creates huge runoffs and depletes the topsoil. And you know the plants suffer because of that. And likewise, there's heavy periods of drought and heat. And when you don't have cover crops and living roots, the soil dries out really quickly and the plants suffer. And So what we've seen in in, you know, incorporating and maintaining really healthy cover crops is that when it rains, they really help the, the crop and the whole system to be resilient to the rain and then when there's drought or heavy periods of heat.
Juan Guzman - 0:39:30
And and little rain, the soil stays cooler, it stays more moist. And it really is a fascinating balance that. Nature designed and we're just trying to emulate that a little bit more.
Kyle Krull - 0:40:17
Yeah, yeah. I I I keep interrupting. Sorry. I feel like I'm taking over.
Juan Guzman - 0:40:20
Kyle Krull - 0:40:21
Good. It's good. Yeah. Something, something fascinating. I learned about cover crops and the importance in specifically how it helps rain. And I didn't realize, and I think I was on real Marines where I learned this and they were talking about how cover crops essentially act as an umbrella for soil. They don't, not to keep it dry, but to reduce the amount of pressure from the actual raindrops. Because if it's exposed soil and all that rain is coming down, it's actually pushing and compacting the soil down. Which makes it harder to avoid that, absorb that water, which to your point, water runoff. And it's just something that I, again, don't even think about. I never would have thought like soil needed to not be exposed to rain because of, you know, it's insane.
Juan Guzman - 0:41:05
Anthony Corsaro - 0:41:09
One, are you are you all doing any animal integration or grazing anything or are you are you able to from a food safety standpoint?
Juan Guzman - 0:41:19
That's a great question and it's something we're we're you know trying to incorporate more. So we're looking at incorporating these on the property. And then there's, you know, it's not like an industrial size chicken coop, but there is, you know, the local farmers have chickens and they all come in and graze the farm all the time, which is great. And then additionally we use. Yeah, we use. Use poop from cows in the area to make compost in the area and. That's actually a really neat piece as well, that we started with the agronomists we're working with so.
Juan Guzman - 0:41:58
We are using the waste from the peel of the cassava and the plantain at the manufacturing facility. And making this really beautiful compost using cow poop. The peel from the plantain and the cassava mulch together and then making a really, really fantastic compost with all the nutrients that these plants need, right, like the the the peel of a plantain is just loaded with potassium and it's just going to go right back into the soil and nourish these plants again. So it's it's a really neat cycle. And the other thing is we we.
Juan Guzman - 0:42:19
Not on our farm, but now some of the projects that we've started, one of them is with this phenomenal agronomist in the area named Santi and he has this beautiful concept of macadamias. And macadamia trees with rows of like covered crops that they use cows to come in and graze? Yeah. It's fantastic. It's it's one of the coolest concepts I've seen in that region. And he calls it also talking about pests, like he calls these, you know, strips of of cover crops and grass. He calls them insect hotels.
Juan Guzman - 0:43:14
Nice. And and again, it's just fascinating and brilliant like these, yeah, overgrown areas attracts so many pests and insects and they just, you know, it's full of life and microorganisms and that keeps those pests from going and attacking the macadamia trees. And so it's like a natural pesticide.
Kyle Krull - 0:43:59
Which is given something else to eat. You know, simple.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:44:03
Want to drive this home for the the average person, right. And it's maybe just a just an educated consumer that's wants to buy these products and understand kind of I'm, I'm, I'm here, I'm at the farm in my mind I'm seeing the imagery of what y'all are doing. You know, you're on the path but I'm seeing about diversity. You know, I'm seeing obviously still high yield or decent yield production agriculture with the plantains. You know I don't know if you're intercropping the cassava, but that's a root vegetable that's going probably in the ground. You're going to have to plant that or till a little bit to get that in the ground. But I'm seeing. Thinking about university right and I just wanna finish that image on the you know what what whatever ninety 9599% of of other plantain you know plantations or whatever farmland we want to call that. It's it's basically just rows of trees bare ground and and that's it right or is or is that image not accurate.
Juan Guzman - 0:44:55
Yeah. Yeah, it is accurate. And what we can touch on the cassava, which is again completely different and fascinating. But yeah, plantain. So the the most brilliant example is our neighboring farm, our family farm, neighbors and other plantain farm. And yeah, it's just monocrop plantain and they spray a ton of herbicides, so the soils are barren. And you know, additionally they. So this is interesting. When you every plantain tree grows it produces 1 bushel of plantains which weighs anywhere from 10 to 20 kilos. And then that plant is chopped down. And it has produced a child right next to it, which is already growing by the time it's wow produced.
Juan Guzman - 0:45:35
It's really fascinating and my thought my sister's father-in-law talks about it in such a romantic way around. You know the the life cycle of this plant when when the plant is giving birth to the plantain bushel out of this flower and it's it's fantastic but. We keep all of that biomass, so farmers come in, they chop down the tree. They chop it up, they use part of it as a trap for this really nasty pest that comes and lives in the roots and Burrows in the roots and they use it as a trap and then they use the rest of it as biomass and and building self fertility. The farm next door, not only do they spray herbicide and and you know, everything's dried out and and barren, but they take all the trees, they chop down and they carry them out and dump them in a riparian zone somewhere.
Juan Guzman - 0:46:23
And so that's another huge difference to to how things are done. Hmm. That's why.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:46:47
Yeah. What about the what, what about the cassava? We've talked a little bit about plantain, but like what's regenerative cassava looked like because that's a root vegetable versus a tree, you know, crop, right?
Juan Guzman - 0:46:56
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, man, I'm so excited. The timing of this conversation is really interesting because cassava, you know, TGI designed this beautiful cassava concept, and it does. Revolves around rotational. And are dropping. And so we have been you know, looking for ways to do this and we we partnered with an agronomist who I mentioned Santi and he was really excited to do this on his farm. And so. What we've done is about 8 months ago we planted rows of cassava in between avocado trees.
Juan Guzman - 0:47:32
Wow. And? The cassava is intercropped with avocado trees. At the end of this season, which we just started the harvest, the avocado trees are done producing, so they'll be chopped down. Fascinating about the the this as well, like Santi has a lot of syntrophic farming concepts that he's that he's employing. And one of them is when you talk, when you chop down these avocado trees, avocado trees grow pretty large.
Juan Guzman - 0:47:54
He we use all of the the large trunks. Around build big piles that decompose into the ground and become, you know, insect hotels and and then all the small branches are mulched on top of the big logs. And again, context specific. It rains so much in the tropics that this is like decomposed in a matter of months. Wow. And it's really fascinating. So.
Juan Guzman - 0:48:39
That harvest of Casala will will be harvested in the next few weeks and then it will be, it will be planted. Cassava will be planted where the where the avocado trees were and then we are going to plant plantains where the cassava was. Wow. And one of the fascinating things about plantains, I was telling you a little bit, they, they start to to have children. So every plantain tree grows a few different kids and you eliminate all but one, and then you let that one grow and the plantain trees start to walk. So they start to move a little bit because this one grows here, the next one grows next to it and the next one goes next to it. And so they start to all kind of walk in a certain direction.
Kyle Krull - 0:49:36
And so then, inviting rotational reasoning behind it, right?
Juan Guzman - 0:49:41
So then, so then once the plantains walk a little bit then we'll plant another another harvest of cassava where the original cassava was. And so that intercropping is is a concept that's. Part of the TGI design, we might also use some beans or some corn, which are really great rotational crops for that because as you mentioned like it's a root tuber. So it's very, I don't know much about potatoes, but cassava is like very, very hard on the soil. And if, if you plant cassava in the same soil for two or three seasons, that soil is like completely depleted, depleted and extracted and it needs to rest. For a long time. And so this concept is as far as we're concerned, like nobody in the region is doing this at least in a commercial space at a commercial level, right and.
Juan Guzman - 0:50:26
The model usually in in cassava in the region is a big big outgrowers come they rent land for two to three years, they monocrop tonic, cassava. And then after two or three seasons, they leave and the soil is just destroyed, depleted. And they go find Maryland to do it, do it again. And so it's conceptually next with this, like bare soil. Nothing. Nothing. Yeah, that's right. Like that, that soil, you know, either needs to rest for a long time or they have to bring in cattle or, you know, do something different to to regenerate the soil.
Juan Guzman - 0:50:52
So this concept is fascinating and probably the thing I'm most excited about is that. We made this whole plan around. You know, having a forecast for what the harvest would be and. We've never done any kind of regenerative organic cassava. Santi hasn't done it either. So we used kind of numbers around like conventional growth.
Juan Guzman - 0:51:35
To project it. And the numbers we used were that each plant should produce about 2 1/2 kilos of cassava. Hmm. So that's kind of the the, the projections we use to make financial models on this and we just did the first trial of of the first harvest earlier this week and the plants are yielding about 5 kilos per plant.
Kyle Krull - 0:52:10
Anthony Corsaro - 0:52:12
Juan Guzman - 0:52:12
Go. Amazing. So yeah they're using about five. We're we're just like you know floored by this, like this is incredible. Not only because it'll, you know allow us to have more more raw product to to manufacture in the next couple, couple of weeks but because like the concept. Is so amazing and it works. And so, you know, I'm very excited about presenting this and and showing the results of this to other agronomists in the region and saying listen, yeah, not only is this better for your farm and your soil, but like twice the production, man, this is amazing.
Juan Guzman - 0:52:32
Kyle Krull - 0:52:54
It's very exciting to do any sort of studies on like the nutritional density of like this cassava versus conventionally?
Juan Guzman - 0:53:00
Grown cassava. We haven't, we haven't that's part of the things we we wanna do and part of the things that we outline with Terrigenesis. But again this is the very first one. And so the the soil testing and the nutrient density testing of the the raw materials are things that we're definitely working on and wanting to have because that's that's an important metric for for the success of these projects you know.
Kyle Krull - 0:53:29
Totally. I mean any game, it's like the lead by example, you know, when you have these types of results, you get to show your partner firms like, look, this is what we're doing. When you implement this, it just becomes a no brainer. Like OK, Yeah, I'll grow twice as much with the same amount of work or you know, but it's crazy. I do want to bring it towards future outlook and this has been an incredible conversation and wanna get gotta give you credit as like a storyteller. I feel like I'm on the farm, I feel like I'm seeing the birds, I'm skiing the trees like the the visual that I have.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:53:56
I'm walking desanti. I'm chilling asanti right now.
Juan Guzman - 0:54:02
We'll have to actually get down there.
Kyle Krull - 0:54:05
Yeah, would love that. This magic what's in store for the the future of Artisan Tropic, what do you guys have new product innovation you line up or the more projects on form that you planning to implement like what is the focus moving forward?
Juan Guzman - 0:54:19
Yeah, that's a great question, man. I. You know, the last the last few months we've kind of been working on this. This question of where are we going, you know what's next? We've been talking a long time about innovating in a different category and we are going to be launching a product here at the end of the year that's in a different category, which is really exciting. No, but it is like. I I tried the first samples at Expo West and it's.
Juan Guzman - 0:54:52
It's awesome. There's nothing like it in the market. We're really excited.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:54:58
About it, that is not phenomenal, man.
Juan Guzman - 0:55:01
We're gonna be hopefully sourcing the one of the ingredients from my my sister's father-in-law. It's really exciting, so. Yeah. That's down. You know, that's finally coming together with we first started this project right when COVID started and kind of sidetracked everything. And then yeah, man, the the other idea or the other, the other thing other than innovating is like we. We now have.
Juan Guzman - 0:55:31
Partners in the region and our own farms that are producing crops additional to plantain and cassava. And so we're trying to think about like what does it look like to incorporate some of these crops in the products potentially as like actual SKUs for retail, but maybe even at a smaller scale for like some online exclusive micro lots. You know, be that coffee, be that chocolate. Umm. So those are some of the ideas that we're that we're playing with.
Juan Guzman - 0:55:58
But yeah, the innovation is really the the one. Kind of for sure. Exciting thing coming down the line. We, you know just as an example we, we for Christmas gifts this past year, you know, we send gifts to different partners and stakeholders along the way and we. Bought Macadamias from Santa's, you know, organic biodynamic farm.
Juan Guzman - 0:56:27
We covered them in chocolate from my sister's father in law's farm and we made these beautiful little chocolate covered macadamias that we sent to everyone. And again, that's.
Kyle Krull - 0:56:44
Not a commercial Christmas list. I love you on that list.
Juan Guzman - 0:56:52
We'll send you guys some of this here for sure. Yeah.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:56:59
That's that's a money man I two couple things into question one that's my favorite part about all these agroforestry systems right is that most of if not all of the the pairing crops or rotation can be is that table right and can be made into a product or eaten as is like that's the beautiful thing about this versus like the cover crops we're planting in the Midwest for corn and bean you know growers here in America which great happy we're doing that but like most of it's not edible or it can't be. It can't be. It's not commercially viable besides the just the soil health properties. So yeah I love that and I think that's a a super powerful piece on the we're on the edges of our toes because we're standing. I think all of us about the new category so we'll keep our eyes and you know you're peeled for that one. Curious if have you guys. I know you guys have some you have a really cool video on the website you have some copy about regen. I think you're putting some stuff on the back of pack it sounds like you haven't gotten all your regen production into.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:57:28
Back, you know, like have you done enough to get some reception from consumers and retailers and like what does that been? If so, like what's the feedback been on the regen?
Juan Guzman - 0:58:06
Piece. Yeah, man. The new packaging that we developed is is flowing through right now hmm. And that is kind of like a little brand update and you know really emphasizing the the regenerative direction on the back of the packaging. It's been great man. I I think you know the retailers that know the space especially the natural space are very, very excited about it. We worked with Whole Foods around the copy and and the packaging to make sure it was all in line with what they what they want and so we we do really think that this is a.
Juan Guzman - 0:58:27
Important story to engage stakeholders with. And one of the things that that we've. You know, had a lot of clarity and peace about is we want to tell this story really openly and transparently, all the challenges and love that. You don't think that? We need to have well that there's logistical issues that that lead to this idea, but we don't believe that it's necessary to have an organic certification or an RC certification on our products in order to start telling the story of what we're doing because.
Juan Guzman - 0:59:19
The journey of regeneration has to start somewhere and we are are trying to really invite people to engage with that story. And it goes back to the the logistical issue of like they're the only certified organic plantain farms in the whole region are my father, my sister's father-in-law. And that's not to to produce. You know, why the artist and Tropic means. Yeah, it's amazing. Like two years ago, first ever certified organic plantain farms and so.
Juan Guzman - 1:00:04
We yeah we we don't just want to tell the story but we want to engage people on it. So we're trying to invite brokers and buyers from big retailers to come to Colombia and see what we're doing. Like we want an open for them to come and see it with their eyes. One of the marketing initiatives that we are doing right now is doing a contest to get two people to Colombia to to kind of. Go on a 5 day journey of of seeing the, the regeneration that that's starting there and.
Juan Guzman - 1:00:45
Really hoping that it's. Not just like a fun experience, but a a a way to engage consumers with the fact that their participation in the food system really matters and. You know, maybe we're gonna touch on this, but. I'm a part of a of a studio through farmers footprint called Renourish. And.
Juan Guzman - 1:01:19
It's been the most. Expanding and challenging 10 month journey so far of rethinking what regeneration means and one one of the really fascinating ideas that's come out of it for me is. That our our company and and you could probably feel it in our conversation, there's such an essence around Colombia and the coffee region of Colombia. Like we, we deeply care about this place. And.
Juan Guzman - 1:01:52
There's been a miss or or a gap for us at times about, you know, why does the consumer care? Not, you know, most people haven't been to Colombia and if they have, it's a small percentage. And then, you know, most people don't really care about Colombia in a way that like they're going to be super passionate or or committed to this specific country or some reason. But the the thing that's landed for me and the bridge that I see such a beautiful potential for is. That place is really, really important and that telling stories about this place would be a catalyst.
Juan Guzman - 1:02:30
For people to care about their place. And so can artist and artisan. Tropic is a small brand, works in a small region of Colombia, but can we engage people in such a way that we build their capacity? To care about their place. So now.
Juan Guzman - 1:02:57
They have one of the items in their pantry which they know where it was sourced, how it was sourced, and then they go back to their community, their church, their neighborhood, their family, and they have a little more consciousness and a little more intentionality about the other stuff in their pantry, like. Can I connect with local farmers to find meat? Can I collect with a local farmer to find milk? Can I find a certain connection to my place and bring a little more consciousness to the way that I buy my food here in my local place? And that's really exciting, man. Like, that it just like really jazzes me.
Juan Guzman - 1:03:38
With the potential for for changing consumer behavior.
Anthony Corsaro - 1:03:50
You're you're very clearly lit up from talking about it, man. That's beautiful. Shout out to Lauren Tucker, shout out to Renner Studios doing amazing work. Excited to get to chat about that for the first time here on this episode. So thank you for bringing that to the forefront and we're excited to continue to work alongside those folks and and maybe even participate down the line. The I I think you just answered this question right, but our last question is always the same one which is. We're looking macro and we're looking at the future and we're saying how do we change that consumer behavior, how do we get people to care about you know more kind of sourcing from place, how do we scale regen ag in the in the quantifiable is how do we get regen brands to have 50% market share by 2050.
Juan Guzman - 1:04:33
Hmm. Yeah, that's a great question, man. I don't know if I have an answer that's that's, you know, well thought out or proven, but. Yeah. For me it always comes back to, you know, what's ours to do and what's ours to affect. And in in the Renourish studio, we talk a lot about nested holes.
Juan Guzman - 1:04:46
And your ability like to be. A nested hole within another bigger nested hole and kind of like your sphere of influence. Like what's your immediate sphere of influence and then what's a little more approximate one and then what's the greater one? And. I love what Will Harris says about white oak pastures. You know, he says he that he's not trying to save the world, he's just trying to save white oak.
Juan Guzman - 1:05:21
Hmm. And so, right that that, you know, what I just shared is really what I see as a potential for for brands and farmers is, you know, can we? Think in a way that builds capacity, that develops people's capabilities to care about their food and where it comes from. Because artists in Tropic. Makes plantain and cassava chips. But if that one item and that one brand and that one story is told in such a way that helps consumers and and maybe consumers is too limited that it helps customers and that including retailers, category managers, buyers, brokers.
Juan Guzman - 1:05:55
Engage with their place. I think that's the the potential for real, you know, incredible systemic change because regenerative agriculture isn't necessarily scalable to like feed the world, but it is. I'm just quoting well, Harris. It's reproducible, it's replicable. So.
Juan Guzman - 1:06:34
So the potential of people caring about their place and seeing what regeneration looks like. In their context. Um. At the retail level, at the family level, at the neighborhood level, at the community level, is, is really. The way that I I think consciousness around food consumption can change and regeneration. Be you know, adopted and and maths. Um.
Juan Guzman - 1:07:09
At mass levels, so. That's my answer. This beautiful.
Anthony Corsaro - 1:07:20
Beautiful man. Wow, did a.
Juan Guzman - 1:07:23
Anthony Corsaro - 1:07:26
Ohh, that's amazing stuff brother. You're a legend. Thank you so much for joining us. Man, this was amazing.
Juan Guzman - 1:07:30
Ohh, I'm honored. Very very honored. It's great to meet you guys. A week ago made this conversation really, really fun. Special. Yeah.
Kyle Krull - 1:07:40
Yeah, that's appreciate, you appreciate you know everything is doing the leadership you know, it's just, it's incredible. It's such a great story and looking forward to seeing what artists and topic does next.
Juan Guzman - 1:07:49
Anthony Corsaro - 1:07:50
Man, yeah, man.
Juan Guzman - 1:07:51
Thank you guys.
Anthony Corsaro - 1:07:52
See you one. For show notes, episode transcripts, and more information on our guests and what we discuss on the show, check out our website regen-brands.com. That is regen-brands.com. You can also find our Regen Recaps on the website. Regen Recaps take less than 5 minutes to read and cover all the key points of the full hour long conversations. You can check out our YouTube channel, ReGen Brands Podcast for all of our episodes with both video and audio. The best way to support our work is to give us a 5 star rating on your favorite podcast platform. Subscribe to future episodes and share the show with your friends. Thanks for tuning into The ReGen Brands Podcast brought to you by the Regen Coalition and Outlaw Ventures.
Anthony Corsaro - 1:08:09
We hope you learned something new in this episode and it empowers you to use your voice, your time, and your dollars to help us build a better and more regenerative food system. Love you, guys.