On “Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg,” Matt Wadiak, founder and CEO of Cooks Venture, talks about creating a more transparent, regenerative food chain—on a macro-scale. “Creating those economies of scale that mimic the traditions that we know and have followed for hundreds and thousands of years is the intention of the business,” says Wadiak.
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Cooks Venture is a food company that produces foods raised using regenerative practices—practices that use photosynthesis and soil microbiology to draw down greenhouse gasses and trap them in the soil. The company is currently specializing on chicken production because the founding cooks, farmers, and scientists want consumers to know the reality behind chicken labels like organic or antibiotic free. “We have a crisis in poultry in America and the way it’s labelled in our country,” says Wadiak.
“When you eat [our] chicken, you’re supporting the millions and millions of acres of land that we grow crops on,” says Wadiak. “We affect husbandry, eating quality, land, and then also focus on environmental issues like carbon sequestration, creating more biodiversity on our lands, and creating healthier soil—and making sure farmers get paid adequately for their work.”
Partnering with FreshDirect, Cooks Venture will deliver uniquely and independently bred chickens nation-wide in packages of whole, wrapped, and frozen chickens. Each regeneratively raised chicken costs $15-$20 each, but Wadiak notes that educating consumers about where their chicken comes from is worth the price. “It should be infuriating for every customer in America who is paying an extra US$2 a pound at the grocery store only to eat a conventional chicken,” says Wadiak. According to Wadiak, even chickens raised organically or cage-free are bred to convert their feed into muscle rapidly, diminishing their bone and organ health—no matter the space they’re given outdoors.
Cooks Venture breeds their chickens disregarding quick muscle development; farmers and breeders combine two heritage breeds and an heirloom breed to embrace chicken’s natural instincts and love for the outdoors. “We’re able to do a ‘Back to the Future’ in chickens… so that we can create a bird that acts like the ancestral bird,” says Wadiak. Originally jungle fowl, the chickens enjoy foraging around in forests and relaxing under the shade of trees: not confined to barns or even open pastures. “So that’s what we do: we let our chickens out with unrestricted access every single day,” says Wadiak.