[Transcript] – The Future Of Plants, Sustainable Agriculture, Vertical Farming, AI-Driven Personalized Nutrition, Child Education & More With Willo’s Sam Bertram.

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Transcripts

From podcast: https://bengreenfieldlife.com/podcast/sam-bertram-podcast/ 

[00:00:00] Introduction

[00:00:56] Podcast Sponsors

[00:05:38] Guest Introduction

[00:08:00] Sam's journey into the health and fitness field

[00:12:12] Discussing wholesome parenting techniques

[00:17:11] How Sam developed an interest in helping people through better nutrition

[00:21:54] From playing tennis to studying Engineering

[00:23:38] The moment Sam opened his heart to the betterment of humanity

[00:28:16] Podcast Sponsors

[00:30:20] The essential elements of the Willo brand

[00:36:51] Aeroponics and AI farming

[00:39:47] Comparison of nutrient density of plants grown in soil vs plants grown in hydroponics

[00:42:25] How an app can allow you to personalize your nutrition

[00:45:31] How Willo differs from other vertical farming systems

[00:48:38] What's the carbon footprint of Willo

[00:51:59] Sam's diet

[00:55:58] Molecular isolation as plants are grown/ is there a biochemistry lab?

[00:57:31] The future of vertical farming

[00:59:50] Closing the Podcast

[01:01:50] End of Podcast

Ben:  My name is Ben Greenfield. And, on this episode of the Ben Greenfield Life podcast.

Sam:  Sit down, close your eyes, and think about one human being in Uganda who doesn't know how he or she is going to feed their kids that evening. Multiply that by 821 million people. Sit down and think about that one woman or that one man and that feeling. You may be overwhelmed with this sense. Human being, the same as us, born of the same material with the same genetic code in a different location who might look slightly different from us are suffering.

Ben:  Faith, family, fitness, health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking and a whole lot more. Welcome to the show.

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There's a reason that essential amino acids, when I go out to dinner with my friends, just out to dinner with one of my friends the other day and he's like, “Dude, my body just won't stop responding to these things.” You take some pre-workout, post-workout before bed when he's fasted, when the gut's not feeling right, it's the cleanest most bioavailable form of protein, period.

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Alright, folks. This is going to be a fun episode. So, I know that a lot of you are into the power of plants, those of you who are not strict carnivore and haven't swallowed that hook line and sinker and still like colorful vegetables to garnish your food, even if you are one of those people who has liver for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and rib eyes for dessert. I do a lot of carnivorous type of compounds as many of you know. But, man oh man, I dress up my diet with pea shoots, and microgreens, and all sorts of little protein-packed crunchies, and even things like bok choy, and radish, and brassica. And, I certainly have the ability in my house with eight raised garden beds and a giant greenhouse to be able to grow a lot of this stuff myself. However, if you're limited on backyard space, on garden space, if you just perhaps don't have a green thumb — and by the way, I don't, it's my wife who grows a lot of this stuff — then you're really going to want to tune in to today's show. I was shocked when I actually saw what my guest on today's show has been able to pull off. And, he'll be able to fill you in more about what it is I'm talking about. Sorry to stay all mysterious for you all, but you're going to find out soon enough.

So, my guest on today's show is Sam Bertram. And, Sam is the CEO and he's the co-founder of OnePointOne, which is an ag-tech startup in the Bay Area that has developed what I consider to be some of the most sophisticated indoor farming technology in the world. Okay. And, in the actual launch of OnePointOne in terms of what they're offering to me, if you happen to open my refrigerator right now and see all the wonderful greens in there that I've been consuming from OnePointOne, and really the company that's redefining under the arm of OnePointOne, the future of personalized nutrition and eating tasty vegetables in a sustainable manner that protects the planet, it's called Willo, W-I-L-L-O. And, Sam is going to tell us all about it.

By the way, as we move forward, if you're listening in, all the shownotes you can find at BenGreenfieldLife.com/Willopodcast. That's BenGreenfieldLife.com/W-I-L-L-O-podcast. Sam, welcome to the show, man.

Sam:  Thank you, mate. Pleasure to be here.

Ben:  Yeah.

So, I actually would love to hear a little bit more of your story, how you got interested in all this. Because from what I understand, you actually have a cool story as far as how he came from Australia to the U.S. and beyond.

Sam:  Yeah, mate. Yeah, for sure. So, I grew up in Australia in Wheelers Hill in Melbourne, Victoria with my brother obviously. And, when we were 18, we both came to the United States to play tennis. And, I went through, I'm through my mechanical engineering degree and robotics masters, and my brother, John, went through his undergraduate and chemical physics, then MCAT, then masters in power engineering. And, we got our two heads together and we thought, “You know what, we're going to be dead soon.” And, we have been blessed with so many blessings throughout our life from people to environment, to events. We want to channel that towards the biggest problem on planet Earth. And so, we went on to the WHO‘s website for the number one leading cause of death and suffering. And, number one on planet Earth is poor nutrition. The WHO, though, is only focusing on the most destitute among us, the developing nations where they simply don't get enough access to nutrition. But, there are 2 billion people on the other end that are eating too much of the wrong thing. And, we can go through the statistics that display that manifestation.

But, when John and I got our heads together, I was 23 at the time, I'm now 29, John was 25 at the time. We thought, you know what, you get one shot at life and we want to take a massive bloody swing. And so, we wanted to figure out how we could make the greatest difference in the shortest period of time. And, that was really the origin moment.

Ben:  Now, speaking of swing, I mean, we can't ignore the fact that you actually were playing tennis at the time. Is that correct?

Sam:  Yes, sir. Yes, yes.

Ben:  Tell me about that because I played NAIA division 1 tennis and it sounds like you had a history of tennis as well. I think your brother John as well, yeah.

Sam:  Yeah, that's correct. Yeah. We came obviously from Australia to play. I was Novak Djokovic's ball kid when I was 13, and about 10 years later to the day, he invested in the business, and a lot of the investors in the business here. We've raised almost $60 million now. Many of the investors have come through the tennis world. But, yeah, I was the captain at Santa Clara University, a D1 school played my years out there while doing the engineering degree. And, that's how this all started, and all started through Stanford actually funnily enough. But, I'm good friends now with Mikey Bryan. He's a half-decent tennis player as you might know.

Ben:  You know Mike Bryan?

Sam:  Yeah, yeah, I'm friends with —

Ben:  Oh, my gosh, Mike's one of my friends. That's funny.

Sam:  Yeah. He's such a good lad. So, I mean, talk about in one of the most humble people on planet Earth taking out that many grand slams and still being a down-to-earth guy.

Ben:  Oh, yeah. My sons, they're twin, they're 14 years old, right-handed left-handed tennis players, they've got Bob and Mike Bryan's autographed poster on their wall. And, they're not super hardcore. They play three times a week, but I mean, three times a week since they were three years old in [00:11:01] _____. So, they're halfway decent.

Sam:  That's a fairy tale story, mate. I mean, they can walk in the shoes of Bryan.

Ben:  I think they're a little bit more interested in painting right now at this stage of their lives. And, I'm very, very cautious. I'm more of a David Epstein range type of guy than I am, the old school eastern European or Asian, early intense specialization, early age type of parenting philosophy. And, actually, I know we're kind of rabbit holding here. But, from my discussions with Mike, it sounds like their dad was kind of similar. They did a lot of stuff like band and I think basketball, and they weren't just pure hardcore tennis —

Sam:  No, no, no. I mean, I know a lot of tennis players, there is the Djokovic story which is from birth they had a racket in their hand. But, a lot of people around sort of that age 14 probably on the upper end but around 11, 12, 13, 14, they start to specialize, they get a great breadth of skills from lots of different sports. And, of course, those skills are translatable into tennis. So much of a course is the hand skill hand-eye coordination but so much of it is positioning, it's a foot sport in a lot of ways. So, yeah, I see that as well.

I'm actually really interested in your parenting style, those five pillars you talk about: reading, writing, logic, rhetoric, and arithmetic. I think those are some really nice buckets you've got. I've got a three-year-old, almost-four-year-old daughter here now, mate. So, I'm looking for as many tips as possible.

Ben:  Yeah, it's interesting. That comes from Naval Ravikant who originally you know came across that idea that the best way to educate and create a kind of a resilient impactful and creative human being is to let them engage in a lot of their passions, and interests, and desires at an early age on forward. And, almost like a creative free play unschooling type of way, but to ensure that no matter what, they have a really, really strong understanding of reading or the ability to really filter and digest information at a somewhat rapid pace writing expression of thoughts in a clear manner in written word format, logic and/or computer programming. They're kind of synonymous. Just the ability to be able to know like A equals B, B equals C; therefore, A equals C type of stuff. And then, rhetoric or persuasion, the ability to be able to not just express yourself in written word but to persuade in verbal form. And then, mathematics or arithmetic. And so, that's kind of sort of what I focus on. It's almost a classical education type of approach blended with unschooling with our model, but it's really interesting. There's actually maybe a link to it in the shownotes.

There's this book called “Raise a Genius” which sounds like it's one of those early specialization type of models, and it was written by a Hungarian guy named Lazslo Polgar. And, that book's really interesting because he lays out a different format that he used. All three of his daughters became chess superstars at a very early age. And so, you'd think that all they did was play chess. But, the way that he set them up is they basically had a five-day week curriculum that was an hour of foreign language. It was an hour of general study like science, social studies, language, et cetera. It was an hour of computers and computing, was an hour of anything moral, psychological, or pedagogical like humor lessons, joke-telling, anything. Just how to understand people, almost understand cognitive biases and decision making, and then an hour of gymnastics. And, aside from that, all they did was play chess. And so, that's also an interesting model. It's not like there's one perfect model, but that's really the nature of this whole parenting book I'm working on right now, Sam, is just all of these different things we're talking about, I'm trying to put them all in one big book that allows people to draw from the best of the best.

Sam:  That's fantastic. I mean, both of my parents are teachers. Each of them spent 25, 30 years in the classroom, thousands and thousands of kids and being able to abstract and distill from them the learnings of how to educate a child in an optimal manner from their perspective, of course.

I am interested. I mean, one of those five pillars of yours is rhetoric. When I was thinking about these five, particularly from my vantage point, one of the greatest skills a human being can learn is the ability for a human being to interact with other human beings well. And, that is the highest level of abstraction, but you've got it there with rhetoric, the ability to persuade but also that ability to connect with other human beings. I'm not a particularly special human being, but I would say that one of my skills is being able to communicate or have an interesting conversation with someone, and I suppose in this case, in persuasion, convince them that what we're doing is a good idea. Hopefully, it's a little bit self-explanatory.

But, I'm interested to know from you. Of those five pillars, do you think that that's where socialization fits in is on that rhetoric persuasion pillar?

Ben:  I don't know. I think socialization falls more under the creative free play that they're engaging in outside of each of those subjects because those at least for my own sons, the greatest amount of social interaction that they engage in is in extracurriculars, it's in jiu-jitsu, it's in tennis, it's in evening youth group, and church. It's in having friends over to play and just explore in the forest. That's in the wilderness, survival camps. And so, yeah, they actually don't get a lot of social interaction during their actual studies per se.

Sam:  Right. Right, right. Well, it's all very interesting, especially I'm bringing up this four-year-old and trying to give her the optimal path. But, the optimal path, what you're taught as the optimal path is actually a sub-optimal path.

Ben:  Yeah. Well, it worked at one time. For things like factory workers and pre-automation, pre-artificial intelligence, pre-computing, farming ag, factory worker, engineering type of work, but now, it's not quite as up to date, that old school educational model. It actually makes me think a little bit though.

For you, with as much as you focused on with OnePointOne sustainability protecting the planet as you alluded to earlier looking at who the WHO focuses on and considering focusing on more of the world as a whole, were you raised in an environment where your parents were into that type of thing? Or, how did you develop an interest in helping people in that way?

Sam:  I suppose that they gave us a great platform to analyze ideas. My dad is heavily into philosophy. As I said in the beginning, we've always been keenly aware of our mortality from a very, very young age. And, that's just a ticking clock. And so, when you have that sense that the clock is ticking and that there is an end to this party, you start to think about how to utilize your time sitting in front of a television. Watching nightly news is not the best way to optimize your time on planet Earth. So, certainly, the platform was given to us from my parents. I would say that my brother, he's a co-founder of the business. He has been a phenomenal influence on me. His ability to unemotionally analyze ideas and get to the crux of things even when the answer is not the most pleasurable or personally favorable, it's all about ideas. Putting those ideas on the table, remove the ego as much as you can, and analyze those ideas. So, that's where it really began but there were a couple of psychedelic expeditions, of course, but understanding —

Ben:  Are you referring to the heroic dose of psilocybin during which you realize that all the world needs is love, and then you come out of that experience deciding that all you want to focus on is loving the world?

Sam:  It's so funny you say that, mate. I mean, it was during that time where I realized that the only currency in my opinion that has inherent value is an exchange of something on the spectrum of love. We can exchange money. If you have a trillion dollars on a deserted island, it means nothing. But, if you can transact with a human being, something on the spectrum of love, typically that is what has intrinsic value. And, my ability to wrangle the English language to describe what I mean is poor. But, if I can exchange with you something on the spectrum of love, there is intrinsic value there. And so, that was another one of those sort of fundamental beliefs. But, as soon as —

Ben:  And, by the way, that's interesting also, Sam, because I grew up Christian knowing that love conquers all, love is the greatest, love covers all. I'm blanking on the actual verse right now, I'll pull it out of my memory eventually. But, basically, this idea that love is all you need. And, the greatest thing we can do is love God and love other people. And, I grew up with that as the core value. But, for me, it wasn't until I had a massive heart-opening session with the inclusion of plant medicines that I've realized the magnitude of love that human beings are capable of, and the magnitude of love that human beings need. It's really odd. Sometimes I wonder if God put certain compounds on the planet to open our minds and to open our hearts in the right setting to be aware of that. You'd think you'd just know that growing up if you were immersed in the right environment. But, it's one thing to know it, it's another thing to experience it so deeply from the core of your soul as your ego is in a fully dissolved state. So, I'm not one of those guys because everybody needs to do plant medicine. But, it is interesting how you see that as a prevailing characteristic. People come out of an experience like that. If their heart is in the right place, all they want to do is reorient their lives to be able to love as many people as possible.

Sam:  Yeah, yeah. Well, a couple things on that. I mean, from the “Good Will Hunting” movie, you can understand what the Sistine Chapel looks like but you don't know what it smells like. Experiencing it is something completely different. And, we, as biological organisms of the earth, have mechanisms in place to keep us safe and to make us reproduce. It's very, very interesting that we have the capacity to love. It's very interesting that our brains have the capacity to interact with specific plant-based molecules that take us to a new dimension, they show us a new room in our home that we never knew existed. I mean, all of this stuff is just so fascinating to me, and it's a tool. Of course, I would never go to a party on these substances. I sit down, I've got a page of notes. What are you doing that is pathological? Where have you developed habits that are sub-optimal? These kinds of things. And, it's a tool to allow you to look at yourself and improve yourself. That's how it should be in life. 

Ben:  Yeah, yeah, deep introspection and personal insight in a state of a different consciousness that I think does have its value when used responsibly in the right setting and not as a crutch or an escapism or as a noble excuse to do drugs, which is how a lot of people use those type of compounds.

Now, for you, going from Australia and then coming into the U.S. to play tennis and studying engineering, I'm just curious, did you always, as you were playing tennis, know you were going to go into engineering? Or, did engineering become an interest at a later age?

Sam:  Yeah, mate. I describe my story as a three-year-old birthday party with a pinata. And, I'm just bloody swinging, mate. There was no grand plan.

Ben:  I love that.

Sam:  At least from my perspective, I wasn't doing any planning. But, I came to the U.S., taking random units in Central Valley in Fresno and then got recruited to come to Santa Clara University. I was on YouTube and I thought nanoengineering, nanotechnology was awesome, and Santa Clara had a good lab so I accepted that offer and never stepped inside of the nanotechnology lab once while I was there, keep in mind. But, I knew nothing about engineering, I didn't know it was mathematically centric, math centric. I didn't know you made a lot of money. I didn't know it was hard. I thought that nanotechnology was fascinating. And so, in the middle of summer, I walked into the engineering school and said, “Hey, guys, I don't know a thing or two about math or physics, but I guarantee you, I'll graduate with above a 3.5 in three years.” And, for whatever reason, they heard that story and said, “Alright, mate, come on in, give it a shot.” So, the one common thread is the desire to battle and to squeeze as much juice out of the lemon as I possibly can, the lemon being life, I suppose. I should say orange, I shouldn't say lemon. But, it's a collection of those moments where an opportunity arose and you lean in, another opportunity arises, you lean in. You can plan all you want, but life has a different plan for you. So, you really just have to develop those fundamentals and have a specific mindset. It's attitude and preparation. And, both of those things I try hard to get right.

Ben:  Did you have an experience when you were going through engineering that made you realize that you wanted to help people or did you have anything that gave you that feeling of wanting to do a little bit more than just say, I don't know, fix computers or make railroad tracks or something like that?

Sam:  So, sit down, close your eyes, and think about one human being in Uganda who doesn't know how he or she is going to feed their kids that evening. Multiply that by 821 million people, triple the population the United States. Sit down and think about that one woman or that one man and that feeling and multiply that magnitude out. You may be overwhelmed with this sense that human beings, the same as us, and I think this extends down into animals as well, human being the same as us, born of the same material with the same genetic code in a different location who might look slightly different from us are suffering immensely. And so, that now during that experience with my brother, that now is embedded within me.

Now, we have to being human beings that run businesses of course, we have to be very practical, we have to keep our mind focused on the short, the medium, and the long-term. But, think about how profound that thought is when assisted. It was a very, very deep moment. And, I'm no matter, I'm no self-sacrifice or anything like that, but what I am very aware of is the suffering that human beings endure. And, I'm also aware that I may and my brother and our team now may have the skills to solve a significant portion of that problem. So, hell, yeah, I'm leaning right in, and we're going to solve that buddy problem. I don't care if it takes me 10, 20, 30 years. I'm on Earth once, and my heuristic is, how do I make the greatest difference in the shortest period of time? And, five years later, I still think we're on the right path.

Ben:  I love that. I love that. For me, I share the same sentiment as you at Ben Greenfield Life. We don't have a monetary goal. Our goal is how many lives can we touch. And, that's what we're basing our entire enterprise around. For me, I'm coming at it from not the aspect of an engineer as you are but more as a wordsmith or as an orator, as a content producer bringing ideas to people, helping people out with information, collecting information, filtering information and disseminating information. Just like the information you and I are producing right now to hopefully help people eat healthier and to help the planet be healthier. And so, I totally get it and I think it's just such a wonderful way to live your life when you can step back and say, okay, how does my job. And, it can literally be flipping burgers, right?

Sam:  Yes, yes.

Ben:  How does my job love others? And, just adding that perspective and then operating from that perspective in your career is just so transformative as far as a mindset shift. I mean, when I'm on my knees in the morning and I'm praying, I do my spiritual care, the very first thing in the morning. I take that back. I have my glass of water and I jump up and down the trampoline, I get the blood flowing so that I don't fall asleep while I'm talking to God. And then, one of the very last things I say though when I pray is it varies the way that I phrase it but it's essentially, “Help me to love people, show me how I can love people, show me how I can love more people, make what I do not for me but for you, not for me but for the world,” and operating from that mentality. It makes things so much more meaningful, rips you out of bed in the morning with a smile on your face in my opinion.

Sam:  It does. It does, mate. I'm totally with you. And, I think that one of the other elements, preparation and attitude are huge. But, part of that attitude element, I think, is gratitude, being grateful. I mean, like you submit yourself in the morning to God, it's the same thing, it's a similar thing, I suppose, for me. The fact that I have running water through a tap that I just turn a knob and the water doesn't kill me and I have a warm bed. I mean, people might think that this is trite or so what, you can't get lost in those simple things. It is the simple things that we take most for granted that we should be most grateful for. And, being able to live a life with pretty acute and powerful gratitude, I think that is a major source of my happiness because whenever adversity runs across my plate, which is obviously same as you, it's constant, you're still coming from that place of just pure gratitude. And, at that point really, any problem is solvable because you understand that people before you have solved more complicated things.

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So, tell me about Willo.

Sam:  Sure. I very firmly believe that nutrition will be personalized. I very firmly believe that plants are the basis of human well-being or at least human nutrition. I'll start there. Plants are the basis of human nutrition. I think we've known that for quite a while. Yes, there are other elements to nutrition, I'm not denying that. There are other elements to well-being, of course, sleep, spirituality, education, all of these kinds of things. But, what the data shows right now is that 821 million people don't get enough food and 2.2 billion people eat too much of the wrong stuff. I know people prefer stories over data but I'll just mention one data point. The Milken Institute found that diet-related disease, not disease, diet-related disease costs the United States $1.7 trillion a year. It's almost 10% of US GDP. Think about that. What a state of play.

Once we can personalize nutrition, we can have systems that are built, that are designed to optimize human nutrition, help humans make decisions about what they consume and, of course, all those other factors when they consume it, how much they sleep and so forth, we can really optimize human nutrition. And, when you're well, when you're well in the gut, you're well in the mind. And, I think that that is a huge priority for me, it's a huge priority for my brother, and I think it's a great priority for our business. So, starting with OnePointOne, actually, I'll give two seconds on OnePointOne.

Ben:  Yeah.

Sam:  OnePointOne is —

Ben:  You're fine, by the way. We got time.

Sam:  Alright, mate. So, OnePointOne began with the realization that 1.1 billion people began this millennium malnourished. That was the moment. And, we were talking about that moment before with my brother. That was the moment. And so, the name of our company is called OnePointOne. It's a daily reminder about what we're aiming at. Again, time is a factor. It's not going to happen in 20 minutes, but that's what we're aiming at. So, we realized that the way we currently produce plants, it's the way we produced oil back in the late 1800s, early 1900s. We got it from whales and everyone, of course, was saying it's horrible to kill whales for our oil but humans hadn't yet found a better way to produce oil. And, there are all these attempts at government mandates —

Ben:  By the way for a second there I thought you were talking about Wales, part of the United Kingdom, you were referring to W-H-A-L-E-S. For a second I had a little bit of a pattern interrupt now, “Really? A lot of our oil came from Wales?” Alright. Go ahead.

Sam:  The bloody Welsh, mate. The bloody Welsh. No. So, we found oil in the ground. Of course, it's sub-optimal to be pulling fossil fuels out of the ground and producing CO2. But, look at the wealth and the well-being that is created on planet Earth. And now, it is time for us to shift to another form of energy production, of course, solar and wind but the obvious one is nuclear. I mean, without a doubt, that's what's going to solve our problem once we all wake up to the fact that it's actually not that dangerous and the government shouldn't be standing in the way. But, that's a segue. We haven't digitized agriculture. We haven't revolutionized agriculture in a long, long time. And, it's the oldest industry on planet Earth. It's 10,000 years old. So, we saw that the way we were producing plants as a human race was sub-optimal and destroying the bloody planet, destroying it, really like nothing else. There's a lot of organizations, there's a lot of industries that emit CO2, but think about an industry that destroys habitats. That's agriculture.

And so, it was the combination of humans being unwell due to the fact that they were sub-optimally nourished as well as the fact that we're producing those nutrients in a way that is destroying the environment. Okay, how can we produce plants better? Well, plants are always at the whims of seasons. You can't grow any plant anywhere. 95% of the leafy greens the United States are grown in the southwest in Yuma, Arizona, and Salinas, California. And then, they're shipped on average 2,000 miles. We've got to figure out a way to produce plants that doesn't destroy the environment where we can produce them year-round where they aren't covered in bloody pesticides, my goodness, where they're completely pesticide-free, completely heavy metal-free, they don't destroy the soil, all of these kinds of things.

When you grow a plant inside of a warehouse, the plant is now dissociated from the outside environment, which is a wonderful thing from a production perspective. And, it's also a wonderful thing from a plant health perspective which we can get into. So, when you produce it indoors, you're producing the plants light artificially, you're keeping the plant at its optimal temperature and humidity throughout its entire life cycle, you're irrigating the plant in an optimal manner. And, what results from that is the highest quality plant material on earth.

And so, what OnePointOne does, we develop the highest quality vertical farming technology on planet Earth. Vertical farming is the process of farming plants indoors and using the third dimension. In other words, using height as opposed to a plane, which outdoor agriculture, a two-dimensional plane.

Ben:  Yeah. And, by the way, for people listening, as you describe this, if you happen to be at a computer, you can make a note to yourself. Go to the shownotes later on at BenGreenfieldLife.com/Willopodcast, W-I-L-L-O-podcast because I'll link to some photos of the vertical farms that Sam has built. They're beautiful. They're gorgeous. I mean, yeah, they're just really cool to look at like massive vertical structures where plants are just blooming and popping out everywhere.

Sam:  Yes. Because in the end, this is about the health of the plant. This isn't about creating cool technology or getting rich and famous, this is about developing a system that grows the highest quality plant materials on Earth. And, I think I share that opinion with you, Ben. I mean, you imagine the “2001: A Space Odyssey,” those monoliths, those black monoliths, imagine hundreds and hundreds of those with luscious plants coming out of both sides, leafy greens, berries, eventually cannabis, biopharmaceuticals. There are a really wide variety of products this technology can grow. But, OnePointOne develops the most advanced vertical farming technology on Earth. We have these large cultivation chambers around the top of the facility. We have robots that run around the facility performing the logistics functions that human beings would typically perform: plant movement, plant inspection, facility cleaning, light movement so forth. So, that's the focus of OnePointOne; develop automated systems to grow the highest quality plants on Earth.

Ben:  I noticed when I was looking around your website and reading about your vertical farming systems that you use the word “aeroponics.” What's aeroponics?

Sam:  So, aeroponics is where the roots sit in thin air and where the roots are sprayed with a nutrient-infused mist. So, if you go to a grocery store, you go to the produce section, you see that mist that's being sprayed onto the plants. Of course, that's completely different, but that's the mist we're talking about.

Ben:  Okay, okay. And so, these plants, they're basically grown on these vertical structures indoors. And, the other quick question I wanted to ask you is you call it AI-powered farming. What's the AI component of it?

Sam:  Sure. So, artificial intelligence and machine learning are very good at taking huge numbers of data and multiple variables and then optimizing for those variables. So, for example, if you grow an arugula plant at 72 degrees, you're going to grow it optimally. If you grow it at 78 or 80 degrees, the plant's going to bolt, it's going to start shooting its flowers, it's going to start being bitter. So, you have there, for example, is temperature. Then, there's CO2 concentration, humidity levels, light periods during the day, 18 hours on, six hours off, what's the recipe of light. There are all of these various variables associated with the plant.

And again, back to that point before, how do we cultivate the highest quality plants on Earth? Well, you take all of those variables and you optimize them for the desired output. The desired output is long shelf life, three to five times longer than any product you can buy off the shelf today. The optimal output is increased nutrition, higher nutrient density, better taste, better varieties of plants, taking different cultivars of the same category and plant and growing them differently in order to get more nutritious and tastier plants. So, it's applying modern-day techniques of artificial intelligence and machine learning. And, one of our investors is the head of artificial intelligence for all of Apple. He's going to be helping us build that algorithm, again, with all keeping in mind the highest quality plants on Earth.

Ben:  Wow. So, aeroponics different than hydroponics?

Sam:  It's a subset of hydroponics. So, hydroponics in a Greek word, “hydroponos,” the water does the work. Aeroponics, still the water is doing the work, but the difference here is rather than a pool of water or a stream of water, these plants are growing in a mist. And, fundamentally, the biggest difference between the two systems is in aeroponics, the root's ability to access oxygen goes up by a massive, massive amount. And, that allows the plant to be healthy, it allows the plant to grow faster. And so, compared to a soil-produced plant where at least 200% the speed, we grow twice as fast as you would grow a plant outside. And then, we have a production yield increase, production speed increase over hydroponics as well, somewhere on the range of 30% all without not only not sacrificing the quality of the plant but actually improving the quality of the plant.

Ben:  Yeah. And now, obviously, I could grow plants out in, like I mentioned, my raised garden beds with compost, and eggshells, and chicken poop, everything else I have out there. And, I'm curious when it comes to hydroponics because I think I've even heard this before. There's a questionable comparison of nutrient density of plants grown in soil versus plants grown using hydroponics. Have you compared your guys' produce to similar produce grown in soil?

Sam:  We absolutely have. We took our products, we took a competitor's product that's doing hydroponic, and then we took organic 365 from Safeway, excuse me, from Whole Foods, my apologies, Whole Foods 365. And, we took them to a third party to get analyzed. And, of course, when you look at the heavy metals and the pesticides that are on the product inside Whole Foods, don't be fooled by organic, everyone. Organic does not mean pesticide-free, organic still has many pesticides. And, I am not against pesticides as a human being or pesticides allow humans, especially in the places where they can't get access to food, to eat more product, it increases yield. Pesticides are a good thing in areas where the main requirement is to get calories. In the United States, we're at a level of affluence where we should be selective about what we're eating, we shouldn't be eating things with pesticides on them and heavy metals inside of them. 

So, anyway, when we did the analysis, the product that we grew was on the order of 20 to 300% higher in nutritional concentration than our organic 365 counterparts at Whole Foods and then slightly higher than our competitor as well who was on the hydroponic side. But, that absence of pesticides, the absence of heavy, heavy metals that — lead as an example chief among them is step one, and then making these plants more nutritious first by choosing the plants that are inherently more nutritious and then growing them in such a way that maintains that nutrition level. That is absolutely what our version of aeroponics can do.

Ben:  Okay, got it. And, I may have some other questions that come to mind about the actual plants and the way they're grown, but I want to shift for a second into the experience from the customer side because basically the way that I've experienced it is I have all these amazing vegetables arriving to my house. And, again, I'm one of those guys, one of those few people who actually does have access to be able to grow all this stuff. But, as a guy who does podcasts like this, my responsibility to try this stuff out myself and tell people about it. So, I'm one of those guys who's a fan and probably not your ideal customer just because I live out on the farm.

But, the idea here is that I can basically take an app and essentially have my own little farm at OnePointOne technologies?

Sam:  Yes. That's right. So —

Ben:  Tell me about how it works.

Sam:  Yeah, sure. And, you can visit at www.willo.farm, W-I-L-L-O. And, we're developing these capabilities, of course. But, what this allows you to do is to personalize nutrition. You get to choose what you grow on your portion of your vertical farm. So, that means you go on your mobile phone, you select which bundle of crops you would like to grow or you select the crops individually, then you send that, you lock in what you want your farm to look like over here at our OnePointOne farm connected to you by Willo. And, that OnePointOne farm then cultivates those products personally for you. We harvest them, we send that product directly to your door and then you consume them. And then, over time, you can change what products you're consuming based upon third-party data, what is your doctor telling you to consume, what are many other Viome, what's Viome telling you to consume.

So, over time our vision for Willo is to be your personalized farm. And, of course, we're starting with the leafy greens and the microgreens and the herbs and the pea shoots moving into strawberries very quickly, then blueberries, blackberries, raspberries. And then, where things really start to get interesting is our ability to produce molecules like THC or CBG, CBD in cannabis, our ability to produce biopharmaceutical molecules. These are real bonafide medicines, and vaccines as well out of these plants, out of these facilities. So, our vision is absolutely to become the personalized plant production of personalized farm for all of our Willo members.

Ben:  And so, in terms of the actual growth of the plants, where do the seeds come from? Where are you guys actually getting your starting materials?

Sam:  Sure. So, today, we're getting our starting materials in the same place that we would get any of our starting materials. We have a partnership with Sakata Seeds, one of the largest seed companies in the world, to dive into their seed bank. Because you can imagine how large these seed banks are in these genetic libraries of plants. So, we can dive into those libraries of seeds that aren't that productive on the outdoor farm or have some massive propensity to get sick from some particular ailments. So, they can't grow them outdoors. We can dig into that seed bank and find those plants that are hyper nutritious or super tasty. And, we can start to grow them inside of our farm as well.

So, today, we're selecting from a small to medium-sized seed subset and we're being selective about which crops we grow. But, think about it in the future, think of the millions of cultivars of plants. There are 30,000 edible species of plants. Of course, there are sub cultivars and human beings at any one time are only really consuming up to 300 of them. So, that's what I'm saying is we have not even come close to unleashing the power of plants on human health, not even close, and that's part of our personal mandate.

Ben:  Alright, I'm going to play devil's advocate here for a second, Sam. So, there's other vertical growth systems out there. I know one called the Lettuce Grow, for example. I actually have one in my utilities room. I get these little seed pods sent to me and I can put them in there and I can grow from these little seed pods in my utilities room. And, it seems to work pretty well. Tell me about why somebody would choose Willo over just like, “Oh, I'm going to do my own vertical farming on my patio, or in my basement, or in my utilities room.”

Sam:  Couple different things. I mean, first of all, safety. I mean, these products that we grow are inside of very, very clean spaces, the human being does not interact with the plant. The first person to breathe on the plant is going to be the person that consumes it. That's number one. The small installments that you can buy for your home are certainly great for the consumer that wants to farm their own product. But, I think it's very similar to a personal mechanic. Very few people are going to have the time or the desire, the energy to be able to grow their own products in their house. And, the number of cultivars that can be grown in those systems are quite limited. The products that we'll be able to grow in our system are much greater than that in terms of category and in terms of number of cultivars. But, look, I don't want to speak down on those system whatsoever, I'm really happy that people are taking their nutrition seriously enough to start their own little vertical farm in their house. I think there is certainly a market to that. But, what we're looking at is the mass market, the vast majority of human beings that want to have their nutrition taken care of for them. And, I think that this solution firstly gives you the peace of mind that I am consuming the highest quality plant materials on earth and I am not consuming heavy metals or pesticides. That's peace of mind number one.

And then, number two, it's the ability to be able to very quickly change what you're consuming out of your vertical farm your, OnePointOne vertical farm and have those products fit your diet or fit your taste for the season.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah. And also, I have to admit the vertical farming systems that are done for your home, they still require the daily or weekly pH adjustments, water changes, adding all the vitamins and minerals to the water. You're still gardening versus pressing button on your phone and having it appear at your front door. So, there's a little bit of a convenience factor, I suppose.

Sam:  Yes, yes. And, a lot of people are, look, because there are so many things to optimize for these days, mate, I don't know how you fit the 100 activities into your 48 hours a day. 

Ben:  I don't watch TV, that's how I do it.

Sam:  Yeah. Oh, that's a bloody good start in a lot of different ways. But, yeah. I think, look, as I said, there's a market for each of these things, but what we're focused on is the mass market that doesn't have enough time, who takes their nutrition seriously. And, first of all, they just want peace of mind. And, second of all, they really want to be on the forefront of human nutrition.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah. That makes sense. Now, in terms of the packaging, obviously, I'm sure some people are wondering. Well, gosh, [00:48:26] _____ for the planet, and you're not using as much topsoil, and you're growing in a smaller space, what you'd have to grow in a lot of acreage, et cetera, et cetera. But then, I know what people are going to say. But, there's jet fuel, there's packaging. 

What's the actual carbon footprint once you step back? I'm sure that you've heard that before.

Sam:  Well, of course, of course. And, we take that seriously as well. But, look, nothing is a panacea. And, we can't solve all problems on day one. Now, with the packaging side, we're working on compostable packaging where you throw this into your elevator garden beds, mate. I mean, this is where we want to go with the packaging. We want to make this product as sustainable as possible and get to net zero as quickly as possible. Our number one priority is human nutrition mode. The state of human nutrition in the United States is so abysmal that not at all costs, of course, we don't want to do it all the costs, but we must get these products in the mouths of as many human beings as possible as quickly as possible. And, part of that is distributing product directly to consumers doors.

Now, we're going to become much, much more efficient over time. We're going to have vertical farms in every major city on planet Earth over time. We're going to piggyback on the distribution networks that already exist. So, we're going to be dramatically minimizing our carbon footprint. But again, our number one mandate is to get the highest quality plants on planet Earth inside of humans' mouths as quickly as possible.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah. And so, the other thing that's really interesting, and this is what I like, and there actually are companies that I subscribe to. I get sashimi grade quality fish from a company called Seatopia, and I open up their packaging from this place called Seatopia and I can literally take their packaging and put in my compost pile. It's all compostable. And, I do the other quarterly shipments. I do US Wellness Meat shipment, and ButcherBox shipment. But, the thing that I like is a lot of companies are doing this now. They've got little QR codes that come on the packaging. QR code gives you a recipe for what you can do with what's arrived at your house. It reminds me of way back in the day, my wife and I used to do CSA, which is — gosh, what's that stand for?

Sam:  Community —

Ben:  Supported Agriculture, yeah. And, we'd get boxes that arrived to our house from local farms. This was back when we lived in a little condo, we didn't have a garden or anything. But, these weird-looking things, I'd never cooked with before Jerusalem artichoke or a purple parsnip. And so, I'd have to get on the internet and google all these recipes. And, very similar now, this stuff arrives to my house, I don't know how to use it. But, there'll be a QR code, I can scan to kind of learn about it.

I notice on your guys' website, you have a bunch of recipes, everything from cocktails that you can make using your microgreens or your basil to different pastas with pak choi and you have a halibut with, I think, it's got dill or something on it. And so, I'm curious if you guys ever thought about putting QR codes on your packaging that automatically shows people what they could cook?

Sam:  For sure, for sure. I mean, we have a new revision of the packaging coming out very, very soon. And, included in that is going to be a QR code. And, not only is the QR code going to be able to give you recipes for what products, what meals to cook, it's also going to connect you directly to your farm. So, you can connect through the app or you can connect through that QR code, and you can see what plants are growing, what your plants are growing, what the nutrition levels are. You'll be able to control your farm from home and you'll be able to trace every single step of that plant's life all the way from seed to your plate to make sure that you have peace of mind that all the way along this hasn't been subject to any real dirtiness or pathogen load.

Ben:  So, I'm assuming you're a customer of your own company at least in some way. Tell me about how you eat. What's your diet look like?

Sam:  I am gluten free vegan and I do intermittent fasting. How does that sound?

Ben:  Gluten-free vegan with intermittent fasting. Alright, I'll ask you the million-dollar question that I know people will get on me if I don't ask you this. As a vegan, how are you getting your protein?

Sam:  Yeah, sure mate. First of all, if you eat a lot of vegetables, you can get a decent amount of protein out of vegetables, you just need to eat a lot by weight. Number two, eat a massive amount of nuts and seeds. Those are some of the best sources of protein and legumes, in general, beans. So, the protein, I've never really had an issue with the protein. I did this while I was a D1 athlete at Santa Clara, and it has served me well. Of course, you need to be mindful, you need to get your B12 from a certain source, your DHAs, your omega 3s and 6s. You do need to be mindful. Don't get me wrong. And, regular blood testing shows that all of my levels are perfectly fine. Everyone is different, and therefore everyone's diet should be different.

Ben:  Yeah.

Sam:  In this period of my life, this is my attempt to do what I think is the right thing for myself and the planet.

Ben:  Yeah. Our diets are way different. Tonight's dinner is bone marrow, a roasted bone marrow with braised oxtail. And, lunch will be wild-caught salmon leftover from the night before breakfast like a raw liver smoothie. And yet, in a lot of these recipes, I'm actually sprinkling microgreens, I'm adding little bits of plants here. I'm not one of those guys who's like, “Plants are going to kill you,” but I'm looking at fermentation, and soaking, and sprouting, and cooking methods, and pureeing, and mashing, and blending.

Sam:  Yes.

Ben:  And so, I think I've got about seven different Willo packages up in the refrigerator right now and I'll chop them up and add a little bit to smoothies, and I'll sprinkle some on top of the oxtail tonight, I'll use a little bit of those in that recipe. I use a lot of this stuff almost like a condiment. I throw in some berries, and some raw honey, and some tubers, but I think that just the idea of adding a lot of these colorful foods, all these rainbow-colored foods to your diet. In my opinion, also looking at it from an epidemiological standpoint, no matter what my carnivore friends like Paul Saladino or Dr. Sean Davis — is it Sean Davis? No, I'm forgetting his last name.

Sam:  [00:54:23] _____.

Ben:   What's that?

Sam:  Jordan Peterson as well full carnivorous.

Ben:  Yeah, exactly. I'm not one of those guys who is for stick with plants, I use them basically in almost every meal but the same way that I use salt and a nice organic ketchup, or a Dijon mustard. I just I sprinkle them all over in there as little supplements to my diet. And, this thing you're doing now is it's so cool. And so, what I like best is that it's allowing people who aren't able to actually get access to this stuff don't get it but to personalize it. I mean, open app on your phone and I know now I'm just sounding like a giant commercial for you, so I don't want to show your stuff. I had you on to make people aware of this, but I really, really do, I dig the approach, I dig what you guys are doing.

Sam:  Yeah, yeah. It all comes back to the same thing I've probably mentioned about four times is just high-quality plant material in people's mouths. And, from a diet perspective, there are a million reasons to argue either way. I don't look at myself in a sense that, yes, I've got it absolutely right and everyone has us wrong, quite the contrary. I might have some facts to support that the human body is designed more so to eat a larger quantity of plant-based products and then every so often eat some meat. But, look, A, I'm not an expert, and B, I think it's still very much an unsolved science. But, yeah, the passion, the thing that drives me is, I think, that nutrition underlies so much of human performance and human happiness. And, I think that we can really genuinely make the world a better place by feeding people better food.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah, I agree.

Now, there was one thing at the back of my mind, some you went over, you related to cannabis, CBD, CBN, CBG, and the molecular isolation, the ability to isolate as you're growing certain compounds. Tell me a little bit more about that. Do you have a biochemistry lab there? Were you taking the plants and actually isolating different molecules from them?

Sam:  So, for OnePointOne, our whole goal is about the plant production system. So, we aren't the ones doing the extraction or isolation things like that now. What we can do with our system is choose from a very wide variety of cultivars and then grow them in specific ways so that these plants can naturally express themselves in a manner that we desire. And so, if you want to plant with more CBG, or CBN, or CBD, or THC, or delta 8, delta 9, I'm not sure, the list goes on, you can take those cultivars. And, through many, many cultivation cycles, you can start to determine, “Hey, when it's 78 degrees and the relative humidity is at 52% percent, we really got a high expression of CBG. Let's push all of our cultivars towards an environmental set point that mimics those better results.” So, doing that for kale produces a very high-quality tasty kale that's rich in iron and a couple of other factors. But, for a cannabis plant, that additional or that concentrated expression of a particular cannabinoid is very useful for the market. And, that's how we see our technology being useful for cannabis.

Ben:  Cool. So, as far as the future, you alluded to a lot of stuff that you guys are up to.

Anything else that you got your eyes on for the future that you're excited about that you want to tell people about?

Sam:  Big time. I mean, the ability for this technology to grow plants that nourish human beings is well-established. And, anyone listening to the podcast can go on right now and join that Willo membership, the Willo community. I think if we're looking 20 or 30 years down the path, plants are an incredible bioreactor, incredible bioreactor. So, you can work with the plant and you can push the plant in certain directions to produce essentially any molecule that you like whether that's measles months rubella vaccines, whether that's a rituximab, anti-cancer drug. I mean, the market for biologics is about $450 billion market today. Massive, massive market. And, using plants as opposed to how we currently produce our vaccines and medicines which is typically biologics, which is typically in Chinese hamster ovary cells and monkey kidney cells. And, this is serious, this is not a joke. There are even acronyms for them. Shifting that production of molecules over to production inside of plants is a far, far better way to produce molecules.

So, the future that I see is, A, fundamentally the people that don't have access to food now have access to food. That must exist in order for these communities, in order for these civilizations to rise above and to rise to the per capita GDP that we want them to be. Imagine if the continent of Africa had a per capita GDP similar to that of Australia, or the United States, or the UK. Imagine how different the world would be if those people had opportunities like we have opportunities. And, that's I suppose one of my meta goals.

But, I believe in the developed nations that anyone in an urban area and suburban for that matter will be directly connected to a vertical farm that is not only growing the plants for their nourishment for their basic micro and macronutrient nutrition but they're also connected to these vertical farms production of NAD, all of these other longevity molecules. This is where you're going to be sourcing these molecules and we'll be able to grow them specifically for you in the concentrations that you need to extend your life and to feel good and to live a happy and healthy life.

Ben:  Wow. Well, I think it's super cool. Maybe I'm just a geek and a hippie at heart. I love this merging of technology and plants. And so, what I'm going to do for people listening, and like I mentioned, I'll put a bunch of stuff in the shownotes. You can go see pictures, you can get in on a Willo membership and start to reserve your first box to get shipped to your house. There's a code, the code is BEN20. That gets you 20 bucks off getting under the list for Willo. And so, you can go to BenGreenfieldLife.com/W-I-L-L-O-podcast. That's where I'll put on the shownotes. If you go to BenGreenfieldLife.com/Willo. That's BenGreenfieldLife.com/W-I-L-L-O. The code you can use is BEN20, and that gets you 20 bucks off.

And, I think you'll have a lot of fun playing around with it. And, it's an app that you can use to customize, right?

Sam:  That's correct. And, that's still in development. I will say if you go online and you reserve your spot and you get that test box, I can almost guarantee you that immediately you will notice the difference, the difference in quality. One of our investors was 62 and he said, “For every second of my life, I've hated kale until I tasted it right now. The quality of these products is just outrageous.”

Ben:  Wow. Wow. Well, Sam, I love what you're doing, I love your passion, I love you pulled together here. It's so inspirational what you and your brother have done. I mean, honestly, I would be happy as a client if my own sons were to grow up and do something for the planet in a similar manner that you have. I don't know, the planet, obviously the people on the planet. And so, I really respect what you've done. And, thank you for what you're doing. And, keep up the great work, man.

Sam:  I really appreciate that, mate.  And, thank you for your time. Thanks, Ben.

Ben:  Hi, folks. I'm Ben along with Sam Bertram from Willo signing out from BenGreenfieldLife.com. Have an amazing week.

More than ever these days, people like you and me need a fresh entertaining, well-informed, and often outside-the-box approach to discovering the health, and happiness, and hope that we all crave. So, I hope I've been able to do that for you on this episode today. And, if you liked it or if you love what I'm up to, then please leave me a review on your preferred podcast listening channel wherever that might be and just find the Ben Greenfield Life episode. Say something nice. Thanks so much. It means a lot.

 

 

bengreenfieldlife.com/willo – code BEN20 for $20 off Reservation Fee

Samuel Bertram is the CEO and co-founder of OnePointOne, an AgTech startup in the Bay Area that has developed the most sophisticated indoor farming technology in the world.

Born in 1993, Samuel grew up with his brother, John (co-founder and CTO of OnePointOne) in Wheelers Hill, Victoria, Australia. Samuel (and John) came to the United States to play collegiate tennis in 2011. Samuel captained his Division 1 Tennis team at Santa Clara University and graduated in 2016 with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, and in 2018 with an M.S. in Robotics and Mechatronics. While at Santa Clara, Samuel was involved in the creation of an autonomous marine vessel as well as an autonomous omnidirectional robot. Samuel’s Master’s Capstone Project was the origin of OnePointOne’s technology.

Samuel and John founded OnePointOne, Inc. in July of 2017 with a mission to nourish the 1.1 billion people that began this millennium hungry. Since then, Samuel has raised over $60M from notable investors such as Fred Luddy, Novak Djokovic, and HRH Khaled bin Alwaleed. With that funding, the incredible team at OnePointOne has built the most advanced vertical farming technology on the market (according to Bain & Company). OnePointOne, Inc. employs a completely unique combination of aeroponics, automation, and AI, and stands apart in the field of indoor farming in terms of productivity, resource efficiency, and data capabilities.

OnePointOne’s Cultivation Chambers (CCs) are two-story tall, fully-enclosed cubes that grow a wide variety of berries, flowers, root crops, and leafy greens. Their fleet of robots manages the facility’s operations, which include: plant movement, plant inspection, cleaning, light movement, and more. OnePointOne plans to build hundreds of these CCs throughout the world to combat major crises in health, nutrition, and medicine. OnePointOne focuses on robotics and automation, agricultural technology, plant-based food and medicine, digital cities, and the Human condition.

Recently, OnePointOne launched “Willo“, which is the future of personalized nutrition. Willo grows the best-tasting produce on the planet. Members discover how complex, robust, and delicious produce can be. And their greens are built to last. With Willo, you can guarantee that your produce will last 2-4 times longer than what you would find at a conventional grocery store. Gone are the days of throwing out expensive greens that spoil just a few days after buying with them.

Everything Willo grows begins exclusively with a non-GMO seed, with each plant receiving the perfect mixture of elements to maximize taste and nutrient density. By providing the ideal composition of elements for each crop, they can grow exceptional produce in significantly less time while amplifying the plant’s natural ability to fuel and heal you.

Willo‘s technology virtually eliminates the environmental impact of agriculture. Designed with sustainability in mind, Willo’s crops are grown in a 100% controlled environment. This means that every single farming element is meticulously cared for, including the seeds, light, water, nutrients, and air, resulting in the most pristine produce on the market. Their farms can grow anywhere on the planet all year round.

As a Willo member, you will acquire your own personal farm share in a vertical farm. Their unique member platform allows you to design your crop selection, monitor its growth, and access nutritional data, recipes, personalized recommendations, and more. Their crop list is growing far beyond leafy greens, microgreens, and sprouted beans. There will always be some produce varieties that just won’t make sense vertically farmed. Even so, there are still hundreds of exciting offerings Willo is looking at cultivating and perfecting in time.

Imagine the most perfect tomato you’ve ever eaten, grown in the dead of winter and delivered to your doorstep mere days after it’s been harvested. Remember the taste of that fresh lemon basil you had on that trip to Thailand, and every other noodle dish has paled by comparison since—how would you like a fresh supply always in your kitchen? Picture a super kale that delivers an amazing supply of 4 vitamins and minerals in a single serving and tastes unbelievably delicious while doing it. And that’s just the beginning.

During this discussion, you'll discover:

-Sam's journey into the health and fitness field…08:02

  • WHO identified poor nutrition as the most problematic element of health
  • Make the biggest impact in the shortest amount of time
  • Novak Djokovic's ball boy as a child; Djokovic is now an investor in Willo (use code BEN20 to save $20 off the reservation fee)

-Discussing wholesome parenting techniques…12:13

  • Essay by Naval Ravikant that Ben mentions on the 5 core skills needed for life
    • Reading
    • Writing (long-form)
    • Logic and/or computer programming
    • Arithmetic
    • Rhetoric/persuasion
  • Raise a Genius by Laszlo Polgar
  • Lazslo Polgar's format of education:
    • Five-day week curriculum
    • An hour of foreign language
    • An hour of general study: science, social studies, etc.
    •  An hour of computers and computing
    • An hour of moral, psychological, and pedagogical: Humor and joke-telling, etc.
    • An hour of gymnastics
  • Boundless Parenting

-How Sam developed an interest in helping people through better nutrition…17:31

-From playing tennis to studying Engineering…21:54

  • There was no grand plan
  • Found nano-engineering interesting
  • Desire to squeeze as much juice out of life

-The moment Sam opened his heart to the betterment of humanity…23:38

  • Millions of human beings suffering can be overwhelming
  • “How does my job help others?”
  • BGL is focused on impacting lives, not monetary goals
  • The simple things we take for granted is what we should be most grateful for

-The essential elements of the Willo brand…30:21

  • Plants are the base of human nutrition
  • Diet-related disease costs 10% of U.S. GDP
  • When you're well in the gut, you're well in the mind
  • OnePointOne
  • Humanity hasn't revolutionized agriculture in a long time
  • Agriculture is the oldest industry on earth
  • Agriculture destroys habitat
  • Willo (use code BEN20 to save $20 off the reservation fee)
  • Vertical farming
  • Third dimension

-Aeroponics and AI farming…36:51

  • Aeroponics is a subset of hydroponics
  • Growing in a mist vs. a stream of water
  • Grow twice as fast as hydroponics
  • Longer shelf life
  • Organic is not pesticide-free

-Comparison of nutrient density of plants grown in soil vs plants grown in hydroponics…39:47

  • Organic does not mean pesticide-free
  • 20% ~ 300% higher nutrients than organic whole foods

-How an app can allow you to personalize your nutrition…42:25

  • willo.farm (use code BEN20 to save $20 off the reservation fee)
  • Willo as your personalized farm
  • You choose what to grow on your vertical farm
  • Ability to grow plant medicines
  • Partnership with a seed bank
  • There are 30,000 edible species of plants
  • We are now consuming only about 300

-How Willo differs from other vertical farming systems…45:32

  • Lettuce Grow
  • Safety
  • Designed to satisfy a mass market
  • Far more user friendly
  • Consuming the highest quality plant on earth
  • No heavy metals pesticides
  • Quickly change the type of plants grown

-What's the carbon footprint of Willo…48:38

-Sam's diet…52:00

  • Gluten-free vegan with intermittent fasting
  • Protein from vegetables, nuts, and seeds
  • Mindful about the sourcing of B12s, DHA's, and Omega's

-Molecular isolation as plants are grown/ is there a biochemistry lab?…55:59

  • Choose from a very wide variety of cultivars and grow them in specific ways to get the high quality

-The future of vertical farming…57:30

  • Plants are incredible bio-reactor; work and push the plant to produce any molecule you want
  • Use plants to produce biologics

-And much more…

-Upcoming Events:

Resources mentioned in this episode:

– Sam Bertram:

  • OnePointOne
  • Willo (use code BEN20 to save $20 off the reservation fee)
    • The future of personalized nutrition
    • The ability for plants to reverse disease in humans
    • Quality over quantity
    • Our vision to provide everyone with their own farm growing their own food (in the cloud)
    • The advantages/benefits of Willo (pesticide-free, no heavy metals, more nutritious, etc.)
  • Personally:
    • Shortcomings of human nature and how to properly manage them
    • Nuanced discussions about capitalism
    • Physics/Astrophysics
    • Ancient human history
    • The blatant and largely-ignored truth regarding Americans' diets.

– Podcasts:

– Books:

– Other Resources:

Episode sponsors:

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Inside Tracker: Created by leading scientists in aging, genetics, and biometrics, InsideTracker analyzes your blood, DNA, and fitness tracking data to identify where you’re optimized—and where you’re not. (29:18)

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