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Annie’s New Organic Macaroni and Cheese Fights Climate Change

This organic mac and cheese traps carbon in the soil.

Children will be the most affected by climate change so it makes sense to teach them how to be smart, green consumers. Now, it’s possible to do that without being a total downer thanks to sustainable macaroni and cheese developed by the snack brand Annie’s and one crafty Montana farmer named Nate Powell-Palm. The revolutionary elbow pasta is grown using regenerative farming practices that isolate the carbon in the soil and prevent it from leaving the dirt.

Powell-Palm, who works land outside of Bozeman, limits carbon emissions by rotating between planting wheat and golden peas in the same soil. This practice boosts the protein content of not just the macaroni noodles, but the soil itself. After the wheat strips the soil of nitrogen, a molecular building block for protein, the peas replenish it. Combine this rotation with the use of cover crops (crops that stop the soil from drying out between planting seasons) and livestock constantly fertilizing the grass, and the soil holds the carbon. Sustainable macaroni is born.

Organic macaroni and cheese has virtues beyond being green. Phthalates, chemicals that can disrupt male hormones, are commonly found in non-organic macaronis and can pose a danger to pregnant women or exacerbate behavior problems in older children. According to a report by the New York Times, phthalates are four times more common in the powdered form of mac and cheese mix than they are in organic block macaroni and cheese. 

Growing macaroni noodles regeneratively may now be financially viable and medically advisable, but that doesn’t mean the old boxes of commercial mac and cheese are going anywhere anytime soon. The popularity of phthalate-rich macaroni doesn’t seem to be diminishing — especially in Canada, which buys two of the seven million boxes of Kraft macaroni sold globally each week.