Patagonia Provisions was launched in 2012. Patagonia organics have been around since the 90’s. What do the two of them have in common? Well, they’re both part of Patagonia’s new and ongoing efforts to supply products to consumers in ways that help the earth, not hurt it. We’re going to talk a little about the Road to Regenerative Lightweight Tee, and some delicious Chile Mango as entry points into this topic.
Patagonia has long been known as the outdoor industry’s leading light in both the use of organic farming techniques and fair-trade working conditions within its supply chain. The company is apparently doing just fine, with sales and profits quadrupling since new CEO Rose Marcario took over in 2008. Yvon Choinard still seems to have a pretty strong hand in things too; his letter from April addresses the COVID-19 pandemic and the ways that this maybe has something to teach us about human overreach and the need to reconnect with the company’s ‘triple bottom line:’ food, water and love.
In the letter, Yvon cites a couple of really startling statistics from scientists about the state of agriculture in America. For one, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, current conventional farming practices are depleting the topsoil so fast that we might only have about sixty years, or sixty harvests, left! Essentially, we’re depleting topsoil 10 times faster than it regenerates.
It’s worth mentioning another reason why the soil is so key to this: it’s also the source of the nutrients in the food we eat. Or at least it should be – a study in the Journal of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that we would need to eat 8 oranges to get the Vitamin A that our granddaddy got from eating just one. And this same pattern is repeated in 43 different fruits and veggies.
I mention this background not to be depressing, although it’s OK to be depressed by good science. The trick is, what are you going to do about it? Patagonia’s response has been to bring to market attractive products that consumers want to buy that respond to this environmental catastrophe. Their Regenerative Organic certification is the newest and most important effort they’ve put forwards towards this.
Regenerative Organic, in a nutshell, is a way of growing that replenishes the soil that it is grown in, rather than depleting it. So it’s fully concerned with soil health. It also emphasizes standards of animal welfare and workers’ rights, but the novel and relevant component here is the soil health aspect. You can learn more about the science here at the Rodale Institute. Companies and products can earn a Regenerative Organic Certification (ROC), which is overseen by the Regenerative Organic Alliance.
So that’s the background, and now we’re going to talk about two products that Patagonia is offering in their efforts towards healthy, regenerative practices.
Patagonia Road to Regenerative Organic Cotton Tee:
- Made of soft 100% Regenerative Organic Certification Pilot Cotton jersey that feels plush, smooth and breathable
- Soft rib-knit trim at the neck feels comfortable and smooth on the skin
- The straight hem goes with most every situation, from casual hangout to working overtime
- Supporting the People Who Made This Product
- Fair Trade Certified™ sewn, which means the people who made it earned a premium for their labor
- Made in India.
- MSRP: $39
The Road to Regenerative Organic Cotton Tee is just what it sounds like: a cotton tee-shirt. It’s almost all organic cotton, except for the collar which is 96% regenerative organic cotton and 4% spandex. My current understanding is that Patagonia hasn’t yet achieved full compliance with the Regenerative Organic standard, but the Road to Regenerative tee is part of their pilot program towards that goal.
Organic cotton is an interesting thing, from a consumer’s perspective. I’ve ordered cotton shirts that arrive feeling like canvas, and I’ve had others that show up crazy soft and comfortable. The Road to Regenerative tee is sort of in the middle ground: the cotton has a substantial quality to it, but it’s still really soft to the touch and pliant. So in that respect it strikes a good balance, and I was glad it didn’t feel overly heavy. It’s worth noting that Patagonia does indeed bill this as a ‘lightweight’ cotton shirt.
The fit is pretty classic for Patagonia’s relaxed cut: not particularly tailored and leaning towards generous in the waist. It’s the type of fit that you’d describe uncharitably as ‘boxy.’ The Patagonia logo is really understated, just a loop tucked away on one of the side seams. I like the subtlety but others may want to rep Patagonia more obviously.
There are some reports of this shirt shrinking in the wash, usually after being dried on low. I’ve only line dried my shirt and touched up in the drier to get rid of wrinkles, and haven’t had any issue with it shrinking. I would just avoid washing and drying in any kind of temperature.
Patagonia Provisions Regenerative Organic Chile Mango
- Ingredients: Regenerative Organic Certified(ROC)™ dried mango
- organic lime juice from concentrate
- organic aji molido chile
The story of the Regenerative Organic Chile Mango probably should start at the farm that Patagonia is partnering with to produce the mango. It’s called Sol Simple in Nicaragua, and it’s one of the first food supplies in the world to earn the Regenerative Organic certification. So the mango is grown responsibly, the workers are paid a fair wage, and the land stays healthy.
In my opinion, the mango is delicious. It’s subtly spiced, and not as in-your-face as some chile mango I’ve had in the past.
In total I’ve had three bags, and I did notice some variation between the bags. One bag was a little more fibrous than the others. I think that’s probably a function of the fact that this is real food, so there’s some natural variation. With that said, Patagonia Provisions offers a very robust refund program, so you can easily be compensated for any product you buy that you’re not satisfied with.
A Final Word:
I wouldn’t highlight both of these products if it wasn’t something that I believe in. Regenerative organics are what many thought leaders in the industry think are the ‘next thing’ in helping create great products that people love and the earth can keep up with. I’ll end with this thought from Patagonia, and say that consumers, not just brands, need to step up:
The only way we’re going to make this new standard meaningful is if more brands step up. We have to stand together and fight for policy changes, even in this difficult and sometimes chaotic political climate. Organic, regenerative, ethical food production needs all our voices—our clear, unequivocal voices. Our customers are demanding it.”