What do cannabis, magic mushrooms, and oak trees all have in common? It is not that you consume the first two while sitting under the third to contemplate life. They are all an integral part of an exciting revolution. Let me explain.

Driven by consumer interest in plant-based meat replacements such Beyond Meat, or egg replacements like Eat Just, global interest in plants and plant extracts is growing exponentially.

Since the relaxation of laws regarding cannabis, the use of cannabidiol (CBD) has exploded across the world. The extraction and purification of the psychoactive elements from cannabis (Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC) and magic mushrooms (psilocybin) are quickly going to follow. THC is already available in Germany as a pharmaceutical therapy, rather than for recreational use. Clinical trials of Psilocybin are already underway, seeking to reduce anxiety in patients undergoing chemotherapy or suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Other natural compounds, the historical medical use of which is well proven in homeopathic medicines across the globe, are being rediscovered. These include oak bark for wound treatment, which has been listed on the US Pharmacopoeia list since 1916 for its remarkable astringent and antiseptic qualities.

When the Romans first conquered Gaul and Germania (much of what is today modern France and Germany), they discovered the local use of oak barrels to store wine spirits and beer. Their preservative qualities were quickly understood. The Romans ditched their traditional amphora (clay storage vessels) and for the next 2000 years the barrel became the go-to natural food and drink-preserving container. The taste the tannins imparted to the products they contained became the intended standard flavour profile for many of the wines and spirits that we prize today.

Oak trees for barrel staves are harvested at 150 years old (French) and 90 years old (American). Tree trunks of this age give the barrel maker the ideal qualities and number of staves per trunk. The demand for oak barrels for use in wine and spirit ageing now far outstrips available wood supply.

Making organic liquid extracts from the same aged wood sources imparts the same profile to the beverage as barrel ageing, but many times faster and using 30 times less wood.

The antioxidant, antibacterial, structural, and other magical properties of oak are now being harnessed in a wide range of organic products to naturally preserve and enhance foods and beverages. Scientists and industry alike are also realising their great potential in numerous other products such as burn care, wound care, and even cardiovascular health.

The global consumer pressure to find natural alternatives to the chemical formulations that we have developed for food to cosmetics and healthcare is immense. With over 390,000 plant species already known to science, there is a huge opportunity for discovery, and in some cases re-discovery.

As an active investor in these areas, I am excited about this revolution and what it can do to change our relationship to the natural world on which we rely.

Let’s get busy repairing the future.