What Is Regenerative Agriculture?
Living sustainably touches every area of our lives. It can get overwhelming at times. I even get overwhelmed when I look at Ad Vitam's platform and how much information I still need to add, while so much new stuff is coming up all the time. It’s really challenging to keep up. So far it’s just me working on it and I realize it’s simply impossible for one person to accomplish such a major task alone. I need a partner or employees!
I have to remind myself of my own philosophy I am looking to convey throughout Ad Vitam’s platform, that every step you take consistently, even if it’s small, will make a difference. With that in mind, things become a little more manageable. The same is true when I look around my house, the amount of plastic that is still there is a lot, and I have to remember here also it’s a step by step process. I won’t be able to eliminate it all at once, but I am making the effort to reduce, reuse and recycle as much as possible.
To tackle the long list, one very important thing I have been meaning to write about for a while is regenerative agriculture. After all we ingest food every day, so paying attention to what you eat is one of the most profound steps towards a more sustainable lifestyle, because it is deeply linked to numerous environmental problems we face.
I was at Whole Foods the other day in the supplement section to get my iron and I was looking at all the options. I settled on a brand that had a label “Regenerative Agriculture”.
One of the names I associate with that term is Dr Zach Bush MD, who is a forerunner in medical research between the relationship of soil health, human and environmental health.
He is part of a coalition, amongst farmers, doctors, scientists, educators and business leaders, called Farmer’s Footprint, with the mission to expose the human and environmental impacts of chemical farming and offer a path forward through regenerative agricultural practices.
There are various problems with industrial farming today. For one, global agriculture generates as much greenhouse gas as the worldwide transport sector, and second, health concerns over the use of toxic pesticides and genetically modified produce have lead many people to consider buying organic or even growing their own vegetables.
There are a myriad of health issues that come with the exposure to pesticides and ingesting foods with pesticides residue. They are linked to a range of diseases from respiratory problems, infertility, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, depression and anxiety, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), to name a few.
If you are curious to learn which foods are high and low in pesticides to minimize your exposure, The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has compiled a list of EWG’s 2020 Dirty 12™ and EWG’s 2020 Clean 15™.
Monocrop Farming Versus Regenerative Farming
Industrial farming uses monoculture crops, which means farmers plant only one crop in the same place year after year. Supporters of monocropping claim it is a more profitable way to farm than switching crops around each year.
The dark side, planting the same crop in the same place each year leads to soil depleted in nutrients, weak and unable to support healthy plant growth. As a result farmers rely on using chemical fertilizers to encourage plant growth and fruit production as well as pesticides.
A century of monocrop farming has damaged American soil health as well as human and environmental health. Some even say we are facing another Dust Bowl. Farmer’s Footprint states that ‘the rapid increase in pesticide use over the past few decades has coincided with this explosion of chronic disease’.
Regenerative agriculture instead focuses on looking holistically at the agro-ecosystem: planting diverse plant species, rebuilding organic matter and living biodiversity in soil, that in turn produces increasingly nutrient-dense food year after year. It also sequesters excess atmospheric carbon underground to reverse climate change.
To quote the Rodale Institute:
"Regenerative prioritizes soil health while simultaneously encompassing high standards for animal welfare and worker fairness. The idea is to create farm systems that work in harmony with nature to improve quality of life for every creature involved."
See For Yourself
The film below is an award-winning documentary revealing the health impact due to chemical farming and the solution of regenerative agriculture featuring Zach Bush MD & the Breitkreutz family. It's about 20 minutes long, the other short videos are just a few minutes.
The Take Away
Consumers are the drivers. Not only look for USDA organic, but also for
Regenerative Agriculture or Regenerative Organic Certified labels and buy more of it, if you have the option. I said it many times, as consumers we vote with our money.
Support farmers of Regenerative Agriculture. Farmer's Footprint tells us:
"At a time when there are more farmer suicides and bankruptcies than ever, bringing back economic success and life on the farm has never been more important."
If you go to farmer's markets, ask the vendors if the produce are from regenerative practices. If not, they might consider if the demand is there.
Zach Bush MD blows my mind. Because of people like him, I have hope for humanity. His holistic approach on everything deeply resonates with how I look at the world. If you want to learn more, listen to this Rich Roll podcast "A Pandemic Of Possibilities". He talks with Zach obviously about the pandemic, regenerative agriculture, the sixth mass extinction and life itself. It's extraordinary! The interview starts at around 14:54 min.
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