As with many business founders, Tina Karras launched Tina’s Vodka because she saw a gap in the market. She was looking for a great vodka — one that was fantastically smooth, delicious, and available at a reasonable price — but there was something more.
Tina was looking for one that was sustainably made from organic, non-GMO corn, believing people should have an option that was kind to the planet when buying vodka. When she couldn’t find one, she made her own.
Tina is among a growing number of innovative and inspiring business leaders who are putting purpose before profits. Her mission is to help farmers embrace regenerative agriculture methods that avoid the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). By committing to using only organic, non-GMO corn in her vodka, she is fueling a shift to sustainability.
“When I was introduced to the concept of regenerative farming, I knew it was something I needed to support,” Tina says. “That is why I not only provide a sustainable product, but I also donate a portion of my sales to support farmers who are returning to regenerative agriculture. We start with the earth and we give back to the earth. Regenerative agriculture aligns with the wisdom of planet Earth.”
Healing the planet through regenerative farming
Regenerative farming is a perfect illustration of how industries can support sustainability. Rather than just focusing on maximizing crop yield, regenerative farming seeks to restore soil health, promote biodiversity, and mitigate climate change while producing agricultural products. Its goal is a self-sustaining ecosystem that provides crops for today while ensuring that the environment will be able to support farming in the future.
There are a variety of practices that are used in regenerative farming. Reducing chemical inputs is one of the primary practices, which includes replacing synthetic fertilizers and pesticides with natural alternatives. This does away with the need for GMO farming, which is often focused on using seeds that have been genetically modified to be pesticide-resistant.
Regenerative farming also focuses on maintaining soil health through processes like crop rotation, cover cropping, and no-till farming. Concern over the loss of topsoil has inspired a growing number of businesses to seek out ways in which they can reverse the trend. One of Tina’s dreams is to use her company’s proceeds to fund the purchase of no-till plows for farmers to support their regenerative farming efforts.
“Regenerative farming naturally pulls carbon dioxide (CO2) back into the soil, whereas traditional farming techniques actually release an immense amount of CO2, which we know to negatively impact our environment,” Tina explains. “Our planet’s ecosystem is so intelligent that it knows where to send the nutrients. Regenerative farming works in harmony with this intelligence, and promoting it will improve the health of the soil, plants, air, water, wildlife, and us.”
The need for greater sustainability
Projections show the global population reaching 9.8 billion by 2050. According to a study done by IBM on sustainable agriculture, that increase means farmers will need to produce 70 percent more food. Without adopting techniques that promote sustainability, few believe those numbers can be met.
Shifting to non-GMO farming is seen by many as an important step in promoting sustainable agriculture. In addition to reducing the need for synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, non-GMO farming also commonly promotes biodiversity, which provides benefits including increased soil fertility, water purification, and climate regulation — all of which are essential to sustainable agriculture.
“Spraying pesticides such as glyphosate on crops is terrible for the soil and for your body,” Tina explains. “Most domestic vodkas are made with GMO corn that was sprayed with pesticides like glyphosate and its DNA was specifically altered to allow it to grow from seed to crop in the presence of pesticides. Why drink vodka that was fermented and distilled with pesticide-laden GMO corn? It’s not just vodka; it’s your body, and it deserves to get the best quality.”
Non-GMO farming also reduces the industry’s carbon footprint by focusing on sourcing labor and supplies from local economies. Farming with a focus on local economies is becoming increasingly common with alcohol brands that produce organic and non-GMO products.
“Regenerative farming can repair our planet,” Tina says. “It’s food production that centers the Earth. I’m in awe of the Earth’s ability not only to feed us, but also to heal itself.”