Deep Dive Episode 140 – It Can Be Done Live: The Future of Our Food

The creators of the award-winning documentary, They Say It Can’t Be Done, in partnership with the Federalist Society’s Regulatory Transparency Project, present It Can Be Done Live — a conversation between entrepreneurs, regulatory experts, and noted academics around creative and bipartisan solutions to global challenges to our shared future. The last of four panel events, It Can Be Done Live: The Future of Our Food, took place on October 1st, 2020.

Over the next 30 years, our global population is expected to grow by more than 2 billion people to 9 billion people inhabiting this planet. How will we feed a rapidly growing population with decreased land and water resources and increased attention to animal welfare and the environment? Is that even possible? The panelists explored the potential of human ingenuity to solve these problems and the conditions necessary to make those solutions a reality. We say it can be done.

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TRANSCRIPT

Nathan Kaczmarek:   Hello, everyone. Thank you for joining us. Please feel free to say hi in the chat and tell us where you’re watching from tonight.  My name is Nate Kaczmarek. I am Vice-President and Director of the Regulatory Transparency Project for The Federalist Society. This is our fourth and final movie premiere program for the new documentary, “They Say It Can’t Be Done.” It’s a great film, and we’ve brought together a fantastic panel tonight. 

 

RTP and Just Add Firewater are excited for a great conversation on “The Future of Our Food” between the Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, CEO and Co-Founder of Eat Just, Josh Tetrick, and Co-Founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market, John Mackey. 

 

Our Moderator this evening is Anastasia Boden. Anastasia is a Senior Attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation where she challenges laws that restrict economic freedom and free speech. In addition to litigating, Anastasia frequently testifies before legislatures, and her writings have been widely featured in many national outlets. Anastasia earned her B.A. from the University of California Santa Barbara and her law degree from Georgetown Law School. 

 

For the complete bios of Anastasia and all our speakers, you can visit our website RegProject.org. That’s R-E-G-Project.org.

 

A final note for our audience, if you have a question for the panel, please send it to us through the chat, and we will ask it at the end of the program. With that, Anastasia, the floor is yours.  

 

Anastasia Boden:   Hi everyone. Thanks for joining. I think this is the last scheduled panel on the film, but it’s certainly not the least. In fact, I may be bias, but I’m partial to this panel. I hope by now you’ve all seen the film, and if not, I commend it to you. It is an optimistic, joyful celebration of the power of human creativity. And it’s really hard to stay down when one considers our capacity to innovate our way out of emerging problems.

 

The film is deeply important to me because it is my job to represent entrepreneurs in constitutional challenges to anti-competitive regulations. But I think the film has something for everyone. Come for the lab-grown meat, stay for the beautiful filmography.  

 

And I think the theme of having something for everyone is reflected in who we have here on the panel: entrepreneurs in the food space and also someone from the government tasked with protecting the public. So with that, I will introduce our panelists.

 

First, we’ll hear from the Secretary of Agriculture, the Honorable Sonny Perdue. Secretary Perdue is a former farmer, U.S. Air Force Captain, agri-business man, veterinarian, state senator, and two-term governor of Georgia. In 2017, he became the 31st United States Secretary of Agriculture. And with that, I suddenly feel very under-accomplished. 

 

Secretary Perdue’s priorities are informed by his experience, living and breathing the exhilaration of a great crop and the despair and devastation of a drought. He learned by experience what his father told him as a child, “If you take care of the land, the land will take care of you.” Secretary Perdue has a beautiful, full biography on the Department of Agriculture’s website, and I recommend taking a look. 

 

Next, we’ll hear from Josh Tetrick. Josh is the CEO and Co-Founder of Eat Just, a San Francisco based company on a mission to build a food system where everyone eats well. Eat Just combines a world class team of scientists and Michelin-starred chefs to create delicious, accessible, healthier, and more sustainable products. 

 

Eat Just has been recognized as one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies in Food and Social Good, Entrepreneur’s 100 Brilliant Companies, and Time’s 100 New Scientific Discoveries. And, of course, Josh and Eat Just were featured in the film.

 

And then we’ll hear from John Mackey, Co-Founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market. John built Whole Foods from a single store in Austin, Texas, into a Fortune 500 Company which now has more than 500 stores and 95,000 team members. A strong believer in free market principles, John co-founded the Conscious Capitalism Movement and co-authored a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling book entitled, “Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business.” He’s now focused on taking Whole Foods back to where it started with its emphasis on promoting healthy eating and lifestyle choices. 

 

Before we get started, please remember throughout to type your questions into the question box. And at the end of our discussion, Nate’s going to hop back on and read some of those questions to our panelists.

 

With that, Secretary Perdue, I leave it to you.  

 

Hon. Sonny Perdue:   Good evening, all of you. Well, thank you very much, and I’m glad to join you all tonight. I think the fact that we are very blessed in this country and that we are essentially food independent. Farmers and ranchers, based on their productivity, entrepreneurship, and innovation produce enough food to feed ourselves domestically here and much of the rest of the world.  

 

I was thinking during the Coronavirus taskforce, if we were to depend upon foreign food, it would’ve been quite dicey, some of that time. But I think the very fact that we’re able to talk about the future of food and have this conversation is because we live in this abundant country. Our free market economic system, with a focus on innovation and on development, is creating great advancements in agriculture production and increased access to food.

 

I think the world has seen tremendous economic growth and population increases because developing countries have never before had such easy access to safe and nutritious food, especially animal proteins as well. And I don’t think it’s ever been more important to build and protect on these issues going forward. As the global population continues to grow, we’ll need to build upon the advancements if we’re going to continue to lead the world in agriculture and food production. 

 

The farm is ground zero for these innovations. It’s been incredibly successful over the last 75 years, and now’s the time to build off of our innovations and expand into animal biotech and Summit America as the leader of agricultural proudness, based in safe and affordable technology.  

 

One example of this is how the United States’ agriculture output has grown significantly over the past 90 years. We’ve increased production of food in five [inaudible 6:55]. Now, we’re 400 percent while accomplishing this with nearly 10 percent less land. This abundance of food and many choices consumers have today when they sit down at the dinner table, I think, has led to a burgeoning market with lots of options. 

 

There are many countries in the world who would love to have the choices that we have. Mary sends me to the grocery store, and I have to call her because we’ve got so many brands and things to choose from. I’ve got to FaceTime with her to find out which one she wants there when she trusts me, not very often, to go to the grocery store. 

 

You’ll find products there I’ve never heard of growing up. In fact, when we did that CFAP program, the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, there were commodities that I didn’t even know what they were. I had to look them up in Google what they were, we’re so diverse and so abundant there. 

 

So I think new restaurants and chefs are constantly trying to find new products and cuisines in order to attract a more educated and interested consumer. I think, again, the social media, as the social media age has amplified all these choices that’s great for the businesses who capitalized on these changes in the market. It always amuses me to see millennials taking pictures of their presentation before diving in to eat and putting it out on Instagram in that way.

 

But I think all that is really a luxury of our affluence of wealth for consumers to eat local and organic foods for those products. I don’t think we’ll feed the world food insecurity we have in other continents there. Americans spend about six percent of their disposable income on food. And when I ask our chief economist to compare that with other developed countries, we learn that French consumers spend about 13 percent of their disposable income on food. 

 

So if you do the math, if American households spend as much as the French do on food at home, there’d be about an $830 billion less to spend on other priorities. So as wealthy choose these types of food, it’s important to remember there are folks who can’t afford to make these choices. And they’re not going to be able to purchase foods at affordable prices. 

 

So this culture of choice has led folks to believe that in the normal conventional state, because of a brewing marketing battle, let me ask you, I guess, certainly, the perception is that organic is more nutritious and more healthy than conventional foods. In the past, farming started out as a noble profession to feed ourselves and our families. Now, food is produced from a marketing perspective and what can we grow that will sell the most. 

 

I like an old proverb, I don’t know if it’s Chinese or not, but it goes like this. When man has not enough to eat, he has one problem. When he has enough to eat, he has many problems. And we have created many problems in society today because of our affluence in the choices and the reliability of our food supply.

 

So I’m a capitalist. I’m a free economic, free market kind of guy. I believe marketing is all fine and good, but when there are statements that are not based on sound science like the health benefits of non-GMO foods or that organic is better than conventional, I think we run into those kind of problems. People from all around the world are falling behind the rhetoric that industrial agriculture is unsafe, harmful to the environment, and less nutritious. 

 

But I simply ask where is the evidence for that? Food in America has never been safer, yet we’ve never felt more unsafe. Our food is safe because of our food safety standards that lead the world really behind the USDA and the FDA. The production of organic agriculture also has its cause: to prove chemicals for organics like spraying copper are actually more harmful for the soil and more intensive than conventional agriculture. 

 

So agricultural innovation is producing more food while using less inputs, not reverting back to subsistence farming or other forms of agriculture that use more chemicals and fertilizers. I think we in the industry, as agriculture and food production, missed the boat on the GMO labeling and marketing. The organic industry has been very successful in using this as a tool to put fear in consumers that’s not based on science and evidence. 

 

So no one’s gotten sick that I know of or evidenced from a GMO food. In fact, I believe the opposite is true. With the advent of GMO crops, more people around the world have access to safe and affordable food and is therefore reducing malnutrition. In fact, innovation can help us to be healthier as a society.

 

The great thing about biotechnology is the more you learn, the more you realize there is to learn. It’s unending. My vision from a biotechnology standpoint is that we will be developing food for health. It’ll be therapeutic. We’ll have medicinal food. We’ll have food that actually addresses the individual, specific dietary needs to make us healthier, not just nutritious in a general way but nutritious in our own general needs. 

 

Now, I think we need to see in the very near future, frankly, food as medicine and something that’s really exciting about. So right now, consumers had never had more choices when they go to the supermarket thanks to the innovation and success of American agriculture. And we must work to ensure that remains the case by supporting American farmers and purchasing foods grown in America and by properly communicating our food as safe and wholesome. 

 

So I look forward to other opinions and look forward to discussions.  

 

Anastasia Boden:   Certainly. That’s one thing I love about the film and about these panels is that we’ve had guests from a variety of perspectives, and it’s nice that we’re able to hear from all sides. And I suspect you’ll hear some pushback from some of the other guests. 

 

Hon. Sonny Perdue:   Look forward to it.

 

Anastasia Boden:   So with that, Josh, I hand it over to you. 

 

Josh Tetrick:   Well, I think we probably agree on a handful of things too. Secretary, good to be with you. John, honor to be with you on this panel. 

 

I’ll share a little bit about my background and then explain how I got into all this. I was raised in the south in Birmingham, Alabama. I thought that I was going to be a professional football player. So I thought I was going to play for the University of Alabama, and then I was going to play somewhere in the NFL as a linebacker. 

 

I had the chance just to play football for a bit at West Virginia. Realized about after maybe half a practice that I probably didn’t have a future in the NFL because most folks were better than me. But I stuck it out, eventually buckled down academically, got into sociology, eventually went to law school, and spent some time going back and forth living in Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, and Liberia. 

 

And my work in Sub-Saharan Africa was really non-profit focused, international institution focused. I spent some time with the U.N. School where I was helping get kids off the street and in the school in South Africa. And I found the whole non-profit experience in Sub-Saharan Africa really frustrating. I’d call home and tell my friends about it. They’d think I was doing something meaningful, and I knew that I really wasn’t. I was spending a lot of money on myself to feed myself, to clothe myself. And when we were looking at the metrics of how many kids we’re actually helping, the numbers just weren’t there. And I was frustrated. 

 

And I went to the World Economic Forum for Africa, which is held every year at the Cape Town Convention Center. And that’s where I saw a quote from a book that really changed how I think about things that got me here. It was a book written by a guy named C.K. Prahalad called, “Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid.” And the premise of the book is if you want to solve the world’s biggest problems, use capitalism. And it was the first time in my life that that had — that very obvious truth to me had been presented to me. 

 

I had friends who when I asked them what do you want to do with your life? They would say, “The only thing you can do if you want to do something good for the world is work for the government or work for a non-profit.” I didn’t realize the energy and the force of capitalism in many ways is the most effective force for change. 

 

And I eventually moved back to the U.S. I had an ex-girlfriend who let me hangout on her couch for a little bit while I figured my life out. I had a best friend who was there right with me when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to next. His name is also Josh. And I said, “Josh, I feel like I should do something in business. I don’t think this non-profit thing is for me.” And he said, “Let me tell you about the food system.” 

 

And he had been really working in reforming the food system with Humane Society of United States for a number of years. And he told me about animal agriculture. He told me about the significant volumes of soy and corn that we don’t feed to the billion people that are going to bed hungry every single night, but instead, we feed to the animals we eat. He told me about some of the environmental consequences.

 

And then I thought about how I was raised, and I thought about the history of heart disease that I have in my own family, the history of type-2 diabetes. And I started to think well, let me take control of my own life and let me do something meaningful to make the food system a little bit better. 

 

But you need a place to start. So we decided the best place to start was to look at a tool out there in the world that’s grown by farmers that is almost entirely underutilized, and that’s the plant kingdom. There are well over 350,000 species of plants all over the world, grown by famers in the Midwest, grown by farmers in Africa and Asia, across Latin America. And far less than one percent of them are used to make our food better, that we consume or used to make food products better. 

 

And I thought what if we could use one or more of these plants that are mostly undiscovered to fundamentally change one of the world’s most consumed animal protein, which turns out to be the conventional egg. Then we began a process of screening through plants. We eventually found a plant that at the time I had never heard of before called the mung bean. And it turns out the mung bean has a protein inside of it that gels at the same time and temperature as a chicken egg. And then we eventually launched a product called JUST Egg that we’re lucky is on shelves at Whole Foods and elsewhere across the country.

 

And then a couple years ago, we began thinking about meat. And we began investigating ways of identifying cells from animals, whether across the bridge in Moran in San Francisco or on a farm in Japan, whether beef or chicken, and we work with farmers to do that. We identify cells from these animals. We identify nutrients to feed these cells. And then we’re able to ultimately manufacture meat in a clean, safe, very tasty way. And today, we’re doing that at about 1,000 liters in Northern California. 

 

And I wish we were together because I’d give you a sample of our chicken breast so you could try it yourself. But got a team that deeply cares about making the food system better, 150 people. And this is the work of our lives, and we obviously have a lot more to go. 

 

But it’s an honor, really, here to be with you, Secretary and particularly you John. You’ve influenced me in ways that you probably don’t even realize, but I don’t think I’d be here if not for your leadership. So really good to be here with you. 

 

Anastasia Boden:   Well, Josh, I’ll take a raincheck on that chicken breast. 

 

Josh Tetrick:   Definitely. 

 

Anastasia Boden:   John, how about you? 

 

John Mackey:   Well, hey. Thanks. That was a — I feel deeply moved by what Josh said, so thank you, Josh. You’re one of my heroes. Your innovations are changing the world. And I think that’s one of the things I want to emphasize here that I’m forever being asked about the future, and here’s the thing. Future’s unknowable because innovations are not always predictable. We innovate in ways that we wouldn’t anticipate.

 

So when people talk about the future, they take what they know and they draw a linear thing upwards, and they can never account for innovation. And so innovation’s continuing to accelerate. It’s accelerating in food. And I think back in my lifetime, and it’s just astounding. And I’m sure that Secretary Perdue would tell you that how different the world is today than it was 40 or 50 years ago. It’s astounding. 

 

Some of the positive things that have happened that I think about how different — like when I got Whole Foods going, there was no local agriculture around Austin, Texas back in the late ’70s and early ’80s. It had gone to a mass market system, and local agriculture had largely ceased to exist. And that’s completely changed now. We see farmer’s markets exploding everywhere. We see local production everywhere. Small towns have farmers markets. 

 

Craft and food artisans have just — it’s incredible how many entrepreneurs are in the food space. I think about when I was a kid growing up and a young man, if you just wanted beer, there was just Budweiser and Schlitz, and I remember Coors was the craft beer of when I was a young man. And today, every city in America has craft artisan beer makers. And the quality of beer in America, which used to be a laughingstock around the world, is now the best in the world. There’s no doubt about it. It’s just incredible what our craft producers are doing.

 

Same thing with wine. Now, it’s the craft production of alcohol and vodka and bourbon and tequila. It’s amazing what’s happening there. And then all types of — it’s just from — let’s take plant milks. They didn’t exist. We had no plant milks. Tofu was a revolution back in the late ’70s and ’80s in America. And now, we’ve gone to plant milks, started out with soymilk. Silk made a fortune by putting soymilk on grocery shelves. But now, Silk is just kind of another product because almond milk came and took that over. Now, oat milk is exploding. 

 

It’s fantastic what’s happening. And craft ketchup makers and salsa makers and every kind of food stuff, pickles, everything you can imagine, we’re bringing entrepreneurship and innovation to it and transforming the food supply. 

 

What Josh has done with JUST is amazing. What’s happened with Ethan Brown has done with Beyond and what Impossible Foods is doing, bringing in plant-based products to transform to get products to taste remarkably similar. You try a JUST egg, if you did a blind taste test, you probably couldn’t tell the difference. Same thing, I think — I have to confess, I’ve been a vegan for 17 years so I haven’t had any animal foods for a long time. But I do, when I try Beyond or Impossible, to me they taste remarkably similar to how I remember it being. 

 

So there are done by entrepreneurs that are fundamentally transforming the type of foods that we can eat. And I think that’s positive. Josh made mention of cellular based meats, what he’s doing, but there are other companies that are doing it. I think it’s going to transform the meat industry in the next 15 to 20 years because I think they’re going to be able to do it cheaper and they’re going to not need the same kind of land. 

 

Animal agriculture is, any way you slice it, it’s got a heavy carbon footprint. It takes up — we mow down forests, and we take down the rainforest to plant crops that are mostly soybeans and corn to feed the livestock animals. We won’t need to do that any longer with cellular based meats. So the environmental footprint is going to be a lot less. Obviously, animal cruelty will be a lot less as well. 

 

On the negative side, food revolution towards processed foods has been a complete health disaster. And the statistics are astounding right now. The whole world is — there are some people that are going to bed hungry every night, but they’re increasingly disappearing. And what’s happening is the world’s getting fat, and America’s leading the way.

 

We are now 70 percent of adults in America are overweight, and an astounding 42 and a half percent, almost 50 percent of adults in America, are obese, having a BMI above 30. And that’s — the trendline is not declining. We have not peaked. It is continuing to get worse. And as a result, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cardiovascular diseases of all kinds are exploding and continuing to be a huge problem in America. 

 

Also, the environmental impact of the meat industry cannot be underestimated. It is very challenging and hence the need for us to innovate towards the cellular based technologies. Unless America changes the way it eats and begins to eat real foods again, as Michael Pollan caught it. He caught it for the generation. Eat real foods, mostly plants, and not too much. And if we don’t change the way we eat, then we’re going to face a health crisis that we’re not going to be able to easily solve. 

 

Children today are obese at very young ages. And it’s not a nefarious plot of capitalism. It’s the choices people are making, and the food addictions that we’re all struggling with. So I guess that’ll be my opening remarks. I probably got some controversial stuff out there that’ll spark some conversation. 

 

Anastasia Boden:   Well, thanks to you all. In thinking about your comments, I was struck about what you said about craft foods in general but particularly craft beer because there’s another wonderful documentary that The Federalist Society has done about the development of craft beer because actually, that was stalled, of course, because of prohibition era regulations and just a small little change allowed people to start homebrewing. And then from that, it grew and grew, and now we have these wonderful craft beers. And so it’s sort of a wonderful story about the power of regulation to foster entrepreneurship and how the American dream relates to American craft. So I —

 

John Mackey:   I guess in that case, that was illegal entrepreneurship. 

 

Anastasia Boden:   Well, I mean, I would point out in the film right. Uber had to sort of break in in order to get established because a lot of times there’s no other way to get your foot in the door. And then one the consumers like you enough, it’s hard to roll that back. 

 

Josh, I want to start with a question for you. In the film, we heard about Eat Just’s efforts to create lab-grown meat and all the regulatory obstacles that you faced. And in my experience representing entrepreneurs and small businesses, sometimes these regulations are well-meaning, no doubt about it, but other times, the laws are efforts by incumbent businesses that are trying to shut out the competitors through regulation. Can you shed some light on the biggest obstacles that you’ve encountered? And to what extent they’re well-intentioned and to what extent they’re motivated by, essentially, cronyism? 

 

Josh Tetrick:   Yeah, there’s a little bit of each. I’ll start with meat. Now, Anastasia, today you call it lab grown meat, but when it’s made in facilities 400,000 square feet, right, clean, coming off the assembly line, it’s going to be clean, manufactured, large scale meat, right? It won’t be in a lab anymore.

 

But today, the USDA and the FDA actually are in the process of setting up a regulatory framework for this kind of meat. And I want to commend the Secretary and the FDA for thinking through this. We don’t — we think farmers can be involved in this but the regulatory issues as it relates to both [inaudible 28:02] food, everything from what you call it. We think it should be called meat.

 

Secretary, I’ll propose my suggestion. If [inaudible 28:14] is competition for the same thing as chicken or the same thing as beef, it’s just made in a different way, but there’s a naming issue, right. There is a safety issue, right. The FDA and USDA still [inaudible 28:31] need to feel good about the [inaudible 28:33] of it, which is there is a process that we’re undergoing, that other companies are undergoing right now, to make both feel good about the legitimacy and the credibility of the safety of it. 

 

But the U.S. isn’t the only country that we’re looking to. If the U.S. ends up taking longer than we might want, we might end up launching —

 

Anastasia Boden:   Josh? Josh?

 

Josh Tetrick:   Yeah? 

 

Anastasia Boden:   I think we might be having trouble hearing you. 

 

Josh Tetrick:   Oh. How about now? Is this any better?

 

Anastasia Boden:   That’s better.

 

Josh Tetrick:   Okay. Just in case someone heard a little bit, I’ll keep this one short. So there are any number of regulatory issues for cultured meat. One is what do you call it? So our proposal would be well, you would call it meat. Just because you don’t need to kill an animal to make it, doesn’t mean it’s not actually substantively meat. 

 

If you have a chicken allergy, Anastasia, and I give you the chicken breast, you’re going to have an allergic outbreak, right? So it is substantively, compositionally meat, so we do think it should be called meat. But that’s one issue.

 

Obviously, proving the safety of it is a really important thing, and I think that’s an example of regulation done well, not done poorly. I think the work that the FDA and the USDA are doing right now to prove out the safety, particularly in terms of the process of it, is well-founded, and we’re really supportive of that. We’re also working in other countries too, right, in terms of doing this. We’re not necessarily just relying on U.S. regulators to get over the finish line. 

 

Now, in terms of our other product, we make an egg that comes from a plant. So it doesn’t come from an animal, which is the assumption people made from a long time, that an egg needs to come from an animal. Our egg comes from a plant. And we worked hand in hand with a very thoughtful FDA on the name JUST Egg and a statement of identity that says plant-based scramble so it gives consumers the awareness that it is from a plant. 

 

So I think that’s an example of the push and pull that you’re naturally going to have between someone like me and my company that we want to go, right—I’m very impatient. I want to make this happen—and also regulators who are responsible for ensuring that it’s done safely, that it’s done transparently. And I think we’ve learned throughout the years how to work successfully with them but still a long way to go.

 

Anastasia Boden:   Yeah. And I didn’t mean — you’re right, clean meat. I should pay attention. I have no pejorative association with lab-grown meat. I’m excited to try it one day, but I will pay closer attention, and clean meat is a much better way of phrasing it.

 

Josh Tetrick:  I would say, not even, Anastasia, just think when we talk about lab-grown meat, right, that’s only because it’s a small scale right now. We used to have lab-made yogurt, right. but now — Whole Foods has sold tens of millions of gallons of yogurt, probably a week, right? And it’s not made in a lab anymore. So I think that large scale commercial transition will happen. 

 

Anastasia Boden:   Right. That makes sense. 

 

John, there’s a healthy degree of skepticism towards capitalism nowadays and towards big business, I think, and popular culture. So even in litigation, I sometimes hear from the government when they’re on the opposite side when we’re suing them, that they say that dog eat dog competition needs to be contained otherwise it’s a race to the bottom in terms of wages and quality. Now, you’ve written a book that is essentially a defense of capitalism and an explanation of why it’s moral. So can you explain that for everyone a little bit? 

 

John Mackey:   Well, I can try. I did write a book so it’s not — it’s complex, but the first thing is that, of course, the metaphors we use to think about business are very unflattering. We use war metaphors, we use Darwinian metaphors, and we use sports metaphors that are almost all unflattering. They all focus on hyper-competition. And whereas competition is one aspect of business, it’s not the dominant aspect of business.

 

The dominant aspect of business is creating value for other people. You create value for your customers. And in order to do that, you have to employ people, so you create jobs. And then you buy things, in Whole Foods’ case, tens of thousands of suppliers, and you create value for them. And you’re creating value for the investors, and they turn around and reinvest that capital in other businesses, and that helps the economy to flourish and prosper, as well as benefitting the communities through taxes and through employment and through philanthropy.

 

So business is fundamentally trading value for other people. Competition is one small part of it. So the dog eat dog world is fundamentally not true. It’s not really what’s the most important thing. Competition’s an element but not the dominant element, and it’s not the lens or the framework we should see business through.

 

Business is fundamentally good because it creates value for other people. No one’s forced to trade with business. If you don’t like Whole Foods Market, and plenty of people don’t, right, I’m always getting attacked for whole paycheck this, whatever. So you don’t have to shop there. You don’t have to. Other people do. We do about $20 billion in sales now, so somebody likes us, but they’re not forced to shop with us. Plenty of alternatives in the marketplace. 

 

And that competition, by the way, helps us get better, forces us to innovate, forces us to up our game, lower our prices, get more productive, and we do the same thing for our competitors. So competition actually helps the capitalistic engine improve itself. 

 

No one has to work for Whole Foods. We do pay the best in the food retailing business, and we have great benefits, and we’ve been named one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For for 20 consecutive years. Whole Food’s a great place to work, so we have low turnover and people work with us for decades. But nobody has to. If you don’t like it, you leave. 

 

Our suppliers don’t have to trade with us. If they don’t like what Whole Foods does or if we don’t — they’re not forced to trade with us. We don’t have any coercion. Nobody — when we were a public company for 25 years, nobody had to buy our stock. Anybody who was unhappy could sell their stock. Again, they were voluntarily exchanging with us. It’s true of all the stakeholders. 

 

Capitalism is fundamentally ethical because it’s based on voluntary exchange for mutual gain. And it’s not a win-lose gain. It’s a win-win-win gain. All of the stakeholders are winning, or they wouldn’t be exchanging with the business. If we just go back 200 years ago — these statistics are true. You can google it. You can find out. 94 percent of everyone alive on the planet Earth 200 years ago lived on less than two dollars a day, 94 percent. That’s down now below 10 percent, and these are inflation adjusted. 

 

The illiteracy rates were 88 percent. Now, they’re down to about 12 percent. And the average life span was 30, and now it’s 72.6 across the world. That’s been capitalism. That’s been business. That’s been innovation. Capitalism’s misnamed. It should be called innovationism because it’s capitalism that creates innovation that creates the progress in the world. And it’s lifting humanity literally out of the dirt.

Actually, I will say capitalism’s the greatest invention that humanity’s ever done. To me, it’s not even close. It has been the engine that’s driving humanity to greater and greater prosperity, greater freedom, better lives for billions of people, longer lives, better lives. It’s not perfect, so you can always pick at it and criticize it because human beings aren’t perfect. There are unethical players in business, just like there are unethical players in medicine, education, certainly in government and politics. 

 

So business is generally judged by its worst actors, and that’s unfair. It should be judged by overall what it’s creating in the world. So yeah. That’s a short capital — I love capitalism and I’ll defend it until I’m no longer on the planet. 

 

Anastasia Boden:  Yeah, that brings to mind I once saw Yaron Brook speak, and he said, “Charity is great. Charity has done wonderful things. Business has changed the world.” And that really stuck with me. And how has business done it? Through competing. And I always thought, just like you said, capitalism is better called innovationism, that competition — we need a new word for competition because competition implies some sort of win/lose thing when, actually, competition is good for everyone. And so it’s important to think about our word choices and what associations we have with them.

 

Secretary Perdue, I was pleased to see, like I said earlier, that the film incudes a variety of perspectives, not just entrepreneurs but also the people who are tasked with protecting the public, the people whose role it is to enforce those regulations and to get a perspective from them, too. Before you entered public service, you were a farmer and an agribusinessman. And I’m wondering how your opinion of regulation has changed, if at all, now that you’re on the other side of it?

 

Sonny Perdue:  Well, again, I think at USDA, our role is really just safety. It’s about food safety, and our motto is to do right and feed everyone. I was unable to hear Josh’s response to your questions, but I loved John’s response over the definition of capitalism. That’s really what we’re about. Regulation has to be there to balance out those evil players, maybe, that may not want to play by the rules, may want to cut corners, may want to do things that are not healthy and safe. 

 

And our challenge at USDA is to keep a modern technology platform because it will always trail innovation. As John was talking about innovation, we can never be ahead of innovation because we’re not innovators. We are regulators in that regard, but we need to be very up to speed over all the kinds of things, innovations that both Josh and John have talked about regarding plant-based meat and other things. That’s one of the reasons that we worked with FDA on the cell-cultured meat early on to determine the protocols that would work when it would be in the lab and when it would be harvested that way in order to make sure the public had access to safe, healthy products to consume. So regulation is important. 

 

Obviously, I viewed, as an entrepreneur, you felt typically on most regulations that you could understand the purposes. Unfortunately, there were some that I didn’t understand the purpose, and I thought as a country we were overregulated in many ways in those kind of things. But for the most part, I view agriculture in really a sustainability faction of three. It’s got to be environmentally sustainable, of course. But it also has to be socially sustainable for people to be able to afford it. Then, it has to be, as John talked about, capitalism, it’s got to be economically sustainable in order for people to continue to do that. So regulations should balance those aspects of that in order for the public good to continue to have food. 

 

And we talk about USDA’s motto is to do right and feed everyone. That’s just our motto. We’re not the ones that are feeding everyone. Innovators and the producers and the creators of this amazing food network that we have of so many choices are the ones that are feeding everyone. Our goal is to allow them to do that safely and with modern innovation and technology. 

 

Anastasia Boden:  I think the film takes a pretty fair perspective of regulation where it says that there is a role for regulation, just that there’s too much of it, and oftentimes, it’s going to stifle entrepreneurship. And I’m wondering what you all think the role is, if any, for the government in helping to foster new businesses or innovation.

 

Hon. Sonny Perdue:  Well, I’d love to respond to that. I think, again, in February, we announced our ag innovation agenda. This week, I was on the phone with private equity investors in the food and ag space. We want to be conveners. We want to be, again, partners with the private sector helping to understand where they’re going and what they’re doing and what are these products coming along so that we can design regulation paradigms that will match what they’re trying to do, again, all with the theme of safety and health in that regard. 

 

So we want to be a catalyst at USDA to help innovations come along, whether it’s plant based or cultured or other types of things that are coming. And we were out at Benson Hill this past week over looking at different types of genetic engineering of different manipulation of many of those plant-based crops that Josh had talked about earlier of how that can be even medicinal-type efforts for us from a health perspective. I certainly agree with John over our obesity crisis in America in that that’s what we’re doing to ourselves. So I think regulation needs to have a balance there, and that’s what we’re trying to do.

 

Anastasia Boden:  Food seems to me something that’s very vital to so many aspects of our life. It’s vital to the way that we feel, obviously, to our health, and that translates to healthcare costs, to the land, to the environment, to jobs, the treatment of animals. And I wonder if you think it’s one thing that — it’s an area that people aren’t thinking about enough. And what are the biggest obstacles right now in terms of making food better for humanity, and how are we going to get there? Where do we need innovation most?

 

Hon. Sonny Perdue:  Is that for me? You would like me to answer that, Anastasia?

 

Anastasia Boden:  Anyone who wants to answer.

 

Josh Tetrick:  Maybe I’ll take a crack at it quick. Look at the presidential debate we just had the other night. How many times was food mentioned? Not one, right? Food, more than anything, will reduce the risk of chronic disease, whether you’re talking about heart disease, whether you’re talking about most forms of Alzheimer’s, that we spend a lot of time talking about, trying to put Band-Aids on something. And we spend very little time talking about very straightforward, simple things we can do to improve our own lives. 

 

And I think that should be talked about a lot more. It should be talked a lot more in halls of Congress. It should be talked a lot more in classrooms, certainly American schools, in families, in communities, and the responsibility that all of us have simply to eat better. We don’t have to make it that complicated. Let’s just eat better, whole plants, as John said. Pretty simple. Whole plants are good. You don’t need to eat a lot of it. And that goes a long way towards mitigating problems if we do what we need to do. 

 

And listen, there are many ways to get to a healthier, safer, more sustainable food system. I don’t think the only way is taking a cell from an animal and identifying nutrients and growing it or identifying a mung bean that scrambles like an egg. We can also create a level playing field to grow kale in the same way that we grow corn, as an example. 

 

So I think there are a lot of things we can do, and I think what gives me a lot of hope, and I think what John was touching on and what the Secretary mentioned is that there’s such a fire of entrepreneurship happening right now. And from my perspective, the more that the government cannot be a limiting step, that’s step one. Before we can talk about anything else, let’s just not limit the ability of farmers to do what we need to do. Let’s create equal playing fields for someone making a plant-based egg or a chicken egg or to grow kale instead of corn, and I think we’ll have taken a good step towards making this thing better. 

 

Anastasia Boden:  John, I wonder if you have a perspective on why people aren’t eating better. What is the obstacle to that? Is it that we need more education, more public education about how food —

 

John Mackey:  — No. It’s the way we evolved. For most of our evolutionary history, food was extremely scarce. Secretary Perdue made it clear that one of the great accomplishments in American agriculture was creating abundance. 

 

For most of history, food was not abundant. It was extremely scarce. Starvation was our issue. So we evolved to crave calorie density, which was pretty rare. You couldn’t — maybe you could pull down some gamey animal from time to time, but it’s not the kind of meat that people eat today. In general, we were up against getting enough calories. So we crave foods that have a lot of calories in them. It’s in our DNA. We love them. 

 

And now we can have them all day long. We can eat ice cream at every meal. We can have butter on our popcorn. We can eat candy and candy bars and just super rich food, lots of calories. And we love it. It tastes good. And so that’s what people do, the heavy processed foods, a lot of salt, a lot of fat, a lot of sugar, refined carbohydrates. And so we become addicted to them because calorie density tastes good, and so we eat it, and we gradually get fat and fatter and fatter. It’s just in the DNA. 

 

So we have to become conscious enough to choose a healthy diet, reeducate our palates away from craving fats and sugars and salts. And you can do it, but you have to practice it and you have to work at it. It’s not a nefarious plot by greedy capitalists. It’s just consciousness to choose foods that nourish our bodies. And each person has to make that journey because we have to overcome our food addictions, and that’s not easy to do. 

 

Hon. Sonny Perdue:  Anastasia, combined also with a very sedentary lifestyle. Our ancestors had to work much harder physically throughout their lifetime in order to feed themselves. Most of us now have a very sedentary lifestyle. We’re working remotely and sitting most of the day. We’ve even developed stand-up desks so that we can at least stand. But that combination of that desire for calorie density food with those sedentary lifestyles is the combination for obesity.

 

Anastasia Boden:  Yes. Hopefully, with Peloton and the innovation of treadmill desks, we’re working toward something else. Josh, I had a question, on a lighter note, I think people want to know. What happened to Ian? Oh, you’re muted. There you are.

 

Josh Tetrick:  Just signal me if you can’t hear me, Anastasia. Ian, thankfully, ended up at a farm sanctuary across the bridge in the Marin area. So he’s hanging out. He was a good sport, so we thought best to take him out of the system entirely and give him a life on the sanctuary, so that’s where you can find him today.

 

Anastasia Boden:  Can people still eat Ian, [laughter] the chicken you’re producing the meat from?

 

Josh Tetrick:  Ian was more of an example, I think, of what is possible. We don’t need to live in a world where we have tens of billions of animals that are fed trillions, ultimately, of pounds of soy and corn that require all of this land and all of this water. We can actually say no to that world, and we can choose a different world. 

 

We can choose a world in which we can eat really tasty meat, the best tasting meat. I didn’t grow up eating wagyu beef and all that, but with cultured meat technology, you can eat wagyu beef, ultimately, at a large scale at a low cost in the long term. And that’s the world that we can choose. And it doesn’t just have to be one company doing it. There are a lot of great companies out there that are doing it, and we’re fired up about it. And Ian was, we like to think, one of the forerunners in making this happen. 

 

Anastasia Boden:  Maybe one day there’ll be a statue of Ian somewhere.

 

Josh Tetrick:  That’d be [inaudible 50:03].

 

Anastasia Boden:  Yeah, I thought that was one of the most impactful moments of the movie, just not only from a moral perspective, and it’s very stirring emotionally, just also the incredible innovation aspect of it, and how important entrepreneurship is, and how amazing things you would have never even thought possible. You can imagine 100 years ago, if they knew that you could do that, it would just seem like magic. It is magic, and I think it was a really poignant piece. 

 

Josh Tetrick:  I’ll give a shout out to my filmmaker who did that, too, Anastasia. Like a lot of people that work for the company, of course, they like that they’re getting paid and they have equity. But they really feel a sense of frustration at our food system today, and they want to use their lives to make it better. And they bring their own from of creativity, whether that’s in biochemistry or computational biology or process sciences or filmmaking to it. So it’s always good to see it come to life. 

 

Anastasia Boden:  Absolutely. Well, Nate, did we have any questions from the audience we wanted to bring in?

 

Nate Kaczmarek:  Yes, we’ve had a lot of questions. Certainly, there were a lot of people picking up on the obesity crisis and asking are there free market solutions? Is there a role for government, specifically the USDA, to meet the obesity crisis? I know we’ve talked about it a little bit, but I just wanted to see if there was any other discussion we wanted to have in that regard. 

 

Hon. Sonny Perdue:  Well, I would think, again, John brought up a great point. This is personal choice. I think Anastasia would love to sue the USDA if we started telling them what people should or should not eat based on their tastes. So I think, again, from a health and safety standpoint, that’s what we’re there for. But the consumption of quantity and those kinds of things, obviously, I don’t think that’s where people want government. 

 

Nate Kaczmarek:  Very good. Any other comments on that? I think we’ve covered it. 

 

I was going to then pivot to the COVID crisis. I know the USDA has had the Farmers to Families Food Box program. I don’t know, Mr. Secretary, if you wanted to mention anything about that and its recent success. I think it surpassed over 100 million boxes delivered. Is that right?

 

Hon. Sonny Perdue:  That’s right. Just this past week, we delivered 100 million boxes, and it was, I think, a real sudden awareness in all of us in that over half of our food had been being consumed outside of the home. And when the crisis hit and all of our food service establishments shut down very, very suddenly, we had a dual alignment of food supply chain, one that served facilities like John’s through retail groceries and others that served food service establishments. And that business was gone. We had produce being plowed under, we had milk being dumped, we had animals potentially euthanized that way, so we had to pivot very quickly. 

 

And we folks at USDA came up with this process that would contract with the distribution system in the middle. They would contract then with the producers, and then we would use the charitable organizations of this country to deliver the food to people in need that may have never found themselves in that situation before. 

 

So I looked at is as a win/win/win. We’ve been all over the country. It’s been widely acclaimed. And people having access, John, to maybe vegetables they haven’t been exposed to since a child. So maybe we have helped to educate some people about how to eat differently in that regard going forward with the Farmers to Families Food Box. But I think it’s been a real trifecta win, and we were honored to be a part of that.

 

Nate Kaczmarek:  Very good. Josh, do you have — I might have missed it in the conversation, but do you have an idea of where cell-cultured meats will be available in terms of globally first, or green-lit by government?

 

Josh Tetrick:  Well, Secretary, we’d love cultured meat to be available first here. We’ve just got to get that regulatory framework over the finish line that I know you and the FDA are taking leadership in. But that’s certainly our preference. I would like nothing better than to serve it at a diner I used to go to in Birmingham, Alabama, as the first place that we put down our chicken. If it’s not here, I think it’ll likely be one country in Asia. But we need to sort out the naming and, obviously, need to ensure that we have a robust package so everyone feels confident and safe about the product. 

 

I’ll just say a note on COVID. Obviously, it’s not lost on anyone that we’re not next to each other on this call. And I saw Kim — Kim, I don’t know what your last name is, but Kim says, “Listening to this talk, it seems like you guys think all is hunky-dory.” So I want to say something to Kim because I certainly — and I know everyone here doesn’t think it’s hunky-dory. 

 

COVID is a zoonotic disease. And we don’t call COVID a zoonotic disease enough. When you break down the abstraction of what it means when we say zoonotic disease, it just means a disease that’s jumping from an animal to a human. And that doesn’t happen by accident. It happens because of actions that we decide to take, whether those actions are large-scale deforestation, whether those actions are encroaching on other habitats of animals, whether those actions end up being the way that global-intensive animal agriculture ends up playing itself out. 

 

And we can take different actions. We can take actions that significantly de-risk our food system. And just like the health issues, we don’t always have to deal with everything as it’s in emergency. A stent is a perfect example of dealing with a thing on the back end instead of the front end. And we can look at zoonotic diseases in the same way. 

 

And the answer to both of those things from my perspective is the very simple, straightforward, responsible thing of putting healing things in your body instead of things that are harming you. And more than anything, that’s my wish, and that’s what I want to fight for. 

 

Nate Kaczmarek:  John, pivoting to you, just questions about how your company has met the COVID challenge and what you’ve seen in terms of innovating the way open market interacts with the public. I know you told me any sort of new investments of the company are top secret going forward, but reflections on how your store has met the crisis?

 

John Mackey:  Well, let’s start out by saying 2020 has been the worst year of my life, and it’s been a terrible year for America. It’s been over 205,000 people have lost their lives from COVID. We’ve seen tens of millions of people’s economic lives ruined through economic lockdown. It’s been a disaster. And we can’t get post-COVID soon enough, as far as I’m concerned. 

 

In terms of Whole Foods, we put safety first. We’ve been repeatedly named as the safest grocery store in America during the COVID crisis. We were one of the first to do temperature checks, mandate masks for our team members, disinfect our carts and our equipment that comes into contact, as well as having our customers also wear masks. So we’ve been very safety conscious. 

 

But social distancing — it’s been difficult because humans, we’re social beings. We’re social animals. We need to connect with each other. And I can tell you Whole Foods is a very huggy culture. And people — nobody’s hugged each other, as far as I know, for many months in our stores. And you’re always talking to a mask, and it’s very unpleasant and difficult. 

 

I always think the company’s made a lot of goodwill deposits in our team members for decades, and we’re making withdrawals now. And that’s unfortunate. It’s hard. It’s very hard for the team members. And we’ve done all we can to keep people safe, but these are hard times and challenging for everybody. And I just really want to get past this, and again, to return to normal.

 

Nate Kaczmarek:  Very good. Secretary Perdue, a question for you. What are the changes you’re most proud of since you’ve been Secretary over at USDA and the things you’re looking forward to accomplish at the department going forward?

 

Hon. Sonny Perdue:  Again, when we began, we talked about becoming the most effective, the most efficient, and the most customer-focused agency in the federal government. And I think we’ve worked on changing the culture to do that, including we view our consumers as customers. We view our producers as consumers. Everyone in that food supply chain that we learned a lot more about this year about how efficient and how effective it is, but also how fragile it is based on these kinds of things. 

 

So that’s what we’re trying to do is to reach out and to figure out how we can fulfil that motto of doing right and feeding everyone in the most effective and efficient way possible. That’s what we’ve done. We’ve got a good group of people there, mostly, frankly, pretty much apolitical in a large sense that just want to do right in helping people have good nutrition.

 

Nate Kaczmarek:  Anastasia, do you have further questions you’d like to ask the panel?

 

Anastasia Boden:  The only thing I was going to ask was if there’s any particular innovations anyone wanted to mention coming up, Josh, anything at your company going on, or anything from the Secretary or anything at Whole Foods, anything that you’re excited to tell people about because it’s interesting and inspiring.

 

Josh Tetrick:  I’ll just tell you one thing. And again, just note to me if you can’t hear me and I’ll speak up louder. So every year, we come out with an improved egg. And the thing about plant technology is it’s only on day one, so there’s a lot of room to improve. We want to improve the taste and the texture and, ultimately, the cost. And ultimately, we want to get to a place where we have the most cost effective egg on the planet. The average cost of an egg globally is about 8.2 cents, so we want to be significantly below that cost. And we want a taste — in a blind taste test, we want 75 percent of people to prefer it to a pasture-raised egg. 

 

And we’re launching version three. One of the first places it’ll land will be a Whole Foods Market before the end of the year. And it’s just the continued really good work of a group of people at my company that are pushing hard and trying to make the food system better in their own way. So I’m proud to share that.

 

Anastasia Boden:  It’s exciting to me that we all have different roles, different places. And I think we agree on more than we disagree about, so it’s a pleasant way to end this conversation.

 

Nate Kaczmarek:  Well, before we do, I did want to ask, since we have the benefit of John Mackey on the line, I know he’s got a new book that just came out in September, and it talks about how humanity can be elevated through business. I wonder if you could share with us a little bit about that book, John.

 

John Mackey:  Yeah, I’d love to. It’s called Conscious Leadership: Elevating Humanity Through Business. And we need conscious leaders. Conscious leaders are leaders that put purpose first. They lead with love. They have integrity in all things. They look for win/win/win solutions. They think long term. They innovate and create value. They’re constantly involving their team. They are continuously learning and growing their entire lives. And to be a conscious leader is not easy because it requires a lot of inner work. Love is a skill; it’s not just an emotion. And we can get better at it, but we have to practice it. 

 

We do not think win/win/win. Most people think win/lose. If somebody’s getting rich, somebody else is getting poor. If someone else is succeeding, someone else is failing. There’s good and there’s evil. There’s light and darkness. And it’s a very binary world view, and it’s not very accurate. In fact, we need to replace that with a win/win/win ethical system where everybody’s winning. We’re taking everybody in America with us. We’re becoming more affluent. We’re becoming more equal. We’re making great progress. 

 

And we need conscious leaders in business, but we also need them in politics. We need them in government. We need them in education. We need them in healthcare. We need them in the military. And if you think about it right now, isn’t it obvious that we need more conscious leaders? It’s just so obvious to me. I look out and I just see we’re squabbling with each other. We’re tribalized. We’re calling each other names. We’re bullying. We hate each other. It’s just not very conscious at all. 

 

So the book in some ways is very timely. I’m very proud of it. It’s really a sequel to Conscious Capitalism. You can’t create a conscious capitalist society and you can’t create conscious businesses if you don’t have conscious leaders. You can’t have conscious leaders unless people are willing to do the inner work to develop themselves into conscious leaders. And so the book’s full of practices. And I’m very proud of it. I hope some people will buy it and read it. I think it’ll probably change the way you think about things if you do. 

 

Nate Kaczmarek:  Very good. 

 

Josh Tetrick:  John, do you mind if I ask you a question?

 

John Mackey:  Sure.

 

Josh Tetrick:  I have it. It’s on my next book to read list on my Kindle, so I haven’t read it yet. But in terms of — you mentioned inner work a few times and how this is about work. It doesn’t just — it’s not just going to come to you. Are there one or two examples of that kind of inner work that have been the most relevant for your life?

 

John Mackey:  Well, they’re all relevant because they’re in almost every practice that’s in the book, practices that I’ve done and do. Let’s just take Chapter 2, which is “Lead with Love,” which I think is one of the most important chapters because love is something that is not common in our corporations because, again, they have this hypercompetitive war. It’s all about winning, competition-type metaphors. So love is seen as weakness, so we check it at the door. And we create work environments that are not very caring. We don’t bring our full, whole selves to the workplace. And I’m not talking about romantic love or sexual love. I’m talking about the love that we have for our fellow human beings. 

 

So the way to understand love is to understand that it’s a set of skills, and we develop those skills in things like generosity. You can practice generosity. You start small. And what you find is that it feels good to be generous. And so it feels good because that’s a win/win. You’re helping others, and they appreciate it, and so as you develop generosity, you get more skilled at it. 

 

Or gratitude is another one that is easy to practice. In fact, if you want to be happy in life, start with gratitude. The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is I do a gratitude practice. It is amazing to be alive. We’re not here that long. Life is short. The world is incredibly beautiful. We get to move, touch, feel, see, hear, love, learn, grow. It’s incredibly beautiful. There are amazing people. Yeah, gratitude. Practice that every day and watch how it transforms your life. 

 

I’ll do one thing on appreciations. This is something Whole Foods does. We end every meeting we do at Whole Foods with appreciations. They’re voluntary. Nobody has to do them. But when you’re appreciating someone authentically, you cannot do that without opening your heart. So the act of appreciating actually releases love in your team and your group. 

 

And of course, if you’ve received an authentic appreciation from somebody, it really hard to stay judgmental of that person and angry. You start to reevaluate them. “You know, maybe I misjudged Josh. He’s really quite a nice guy. He’s really thoughtful and kind, and I think I want to be friends with him.” So appreciations can completely transform your organization if you practice them. And we practice them at Whole Foods, and it’s part of our secret as an organization. 

 

But there’s also care and compassion and, most importantly, forgiveness. We need to practice forgiveness because we nurture all these petty grievances in our hearts and all these little judgements that keep us from being able to forgive. And so we trap ourselves in our own sort of poisonous world of anger and pettiness and grievances. And, hey, I see it right now. We need forgiveness bigtime in America because there’s so much anger. It’s just incredible how angry people are, and how they’re yelling and screaming at everybody in righteous indignation. You’re not happy when you’re doing that. That’s not love. And forgiveness can release all that if we’ll practice it, and we have forgiveness practices. 

 

So that’s just one chapter, but I promise you every chapter has got a number of practices that we can do. And you will become more skilled if you’ll do the practices. Malcolm Gladwell says that — I think it’s Malcolm Gladwell that said, “If you want to master something, you have to give about 10,000 hours to it.” Okay, I’m saying that for conscious leadership. If you want to be a conscious leader, you’re going to have to give about 10,000 hours to it because you’re not going to read a book and it’s not just ideas. You have to change your inner being. And you will do that if you will do the work. 

 

And we need leaders that are willing to do that work. We need conscious leaders in America. It’s how we’re going to get to the other side, gang. We’re going to have to find the higher ground that unites America. If we don’t do it, we’re going to tear ourselves apart. We have to go back into love. We have to find win/win/win solutions. And we need people to stand up and do it. We need conscious leaders who have the courage to do these things. That’s why we wrote the book. 

 

Nate Kaczmarek:  Very good. Well, we are coming up on a hard stop, but I do want to say what an honor it is to have all of you, and especially Secretary Perdue, to have you with us. I’m happy to give you the last word if you’d like to finish us off with anything.

 

Hon. Sonny Perdue:  No, I think John just gave us a great sermon, and that’s the way I’d do that. But I talked about forgiveness and compassion and gratitude and all those things. I think I read a book a long time ago about those things, and it was written a long time ago. So I love to hear that, and I think we would be a better society if we all did that and practice it. You can’t read about it and not practice it and get anything done. So thank you, John. I look forward to reading your book. 

 

John Mackey:  Thank you, Secretary Perdue. It’d be a great honor if you read it. 

 

Nate Kaczmarek:  Well, thank you all, Secretary Perdue, Anastasia, Josh, John. To our audience, we welcome your feedback on tonight’s program by email at rtp@regproject.org. A final note that the free link you received to the film is good through this weekend, so if you haven’t watched it or think someone else should watch it, please send it along. You’ve just got a couple more days. And again, thanks to all. Have a great night.

John Mackey

Co-Founder and CEO

Whole Foods Market


Sonny Perdue

Secretary

U.S. Department of Agriculture


Josh Tetrick

Co-Founder and CEO

Eat Just, Inc.


Anastasia P. Boden

Attorney, Economic Liberty Project

Pacific Legal Foundation


They Say It Can’t Be Done

It Can Be Done Live

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