A caravan of combine harvesters chew up the grassland under the open prairie sky. They hum along in staggered rows, on the way to fill up grain elevators in the distance. The air smells like a combination of a bakery, brewery, and grassland. All told, upwards of 40 farmers covering hundreds of thousands of acres across much of the southern prairies, including Saskatchewan and eastern Alberta make up our harvest.
Welcome to the Above Food laboratory.
Our laboratory has no pipettes, petri dishes, or beakers. For us, it is the fertile soil of the Canadian prairies, and those frigid winters we all complain about, that create a natural environment perfect for growing some of the most sustainable and nutrient-dense food on the planet. Above Food is a vertically-integrated, plant ingredient, and plant protein food and ingredient company. We offer complete traceability of our ingredients from seed to fork.
Above Food currently supplies over 300 customers in 35 countries, and in the summer of 2021, will be launching consumer products into natural retailers across the nation. We believe that there doesn’t have to be a trade-off between scalability and sustainability. But the key to this lies in complete control of the value chain.
From the seed
Above Food carefully selects our seed genetics, with a special focus on pulses (lentils, peas, beans, chickpeas), and our farm partners use specialized, modified equipment to maintain the highest of standards when harvesting. Our agricultural practices mandate “no till” cultivation protocols which are naturally regenerative, effectively building large scale carbon sinks, and sequestering carbon from the air.
Pulses are truly a superfood ingredient, for the health of us and of the planet. They are a key ingredient in so many plant-based, protein-rich foods that are growing in popularity. Pulses are also extremely efficient, it takes very little energy to turn them into food.
The open plains of Canada and the vast northern plains of the U.S. have the ideal conditions for growing pulses because there is not a lot of rainfall. In summer, we get 17.5 hours of sunlight a day and each year we have 89 frost free days. And it is those biting cold winters that effectively kill pests that could damage the crops. As a result, we grow these proteins much more naturally, without the need for large scale deployment of pesticides, sprays, and other harsh chemicals.
To the fork
We’ve also dedicated resources to establishing our own distribution network that is both energy- and cost-efficient. Above Food owns its own 350 car rail fleet, which is one of the most efficient, eco-friendly ways to move our product and limit our carbon footprint. Moving freight via train instead of trucks reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent. In total, trains are 3-4 times more fuel efficient than cars. Above Food owns a 21,000 linear foot railspur serving as a main line into our facility. Above Food also operates the largest organic grain terminal in Canada with environmentally sound practices.
Nothing is above nature
Too often, even plant based foods are unhealthy and over processed. You shouldn’t have to win a spelling bee to understand what you’re eating. We work to minimize our use of antinutrients, preservatives, fillers, and known inflammatory foods.
Above Food uses a gentle protein processing formulation to avoid denaturing the proteins in our products. Our base formulations provide all nine essential amino acids in forms and quantities optimized for human consumption. Not all protein is created equal. Many other plant-based protein ingredients are developed using methods that fractionate protein, deconstructing it in caustic chemicals or heating it to break it down, which can negatively impact its nutritional value and digestibility.
Our focus on supporting farmers, food science, and transportation methods means that we have an unrivaled level of insight and control throughout the supply chain. All of it is part of our innovation and commitment to redesigning a food system that is sustainable and traceable, while providing the most nutritious foods possible.
Lionel Kambietz, executive chairman of Above Food Inc. is a Canadian entrepreneur and business developer with 40 years of executive experience in agriculture, manufacturing, energy and process design. He has founded multiple private and public companies in both Canada and the United States.