Regenerative Farming: Good for You & the Planet- Part 1
I grew up around gardens and farmer’s markets. My family grew a lot of our own fruits and vegetables, then we also pickled and fermented a lot of our harvest, and we still do today. Whatever we didn’t make ourselves, we went to “the guy” who did, and that was often at the market or farm. This was the original “organic” but now we need to label what’s natural and real because our food system is backwards!
We went from ancestral ways of farming, where everything was organic and local, to factory-farming, growing only monocrops and transporting these low nutrient foods around the world. With low nutrient foods feeding most of the population, we see an astronomical increase in chronic diseases.
“Poor diet has become the biggest killer on the planet. It has surpassed deaths caused by smoking, which kills 7.7 million people per year, whereas 11 million people die every year from poor lifestyle choices that lead to chronic diseases.”
However, it’s not only the individual who is reaching for the soda can and bag of chips to blame here.
The biggest food companies and governments of the world operate the food system to make mostly junk food accessible, especially to the poor and working-class communities. From the way the food is grown to what they deliver to your grocery stores, it’s all designed to keep you eating ultra-processed foods rather than fresh fruits & vegetables.
Allow me to elaborate.
What is conventional farming?
According to the USDA, “Conventional farming is the use of seeds that have been genetically altered using a variety of traditional breeding methods, excluding biotechnology, and are not certified organic.”
In fact, conventional farming relies on chemical intervention to grow their crops by using synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers, which are harmful to your health. Furthermore, conventional farms only plant monocrops, which are corn, wheat, and soy, which the government subsidizes, rewarding the growth of these cheap crops.
The government also subsidizes factory-farmed meat, or CAFOs, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation. This means small cages with densely packed animals, who eat GMO feed, hormones, and antibiotics for mass production and consumption. Unlike free-range animals who live out a proper lifespan and eat off the land.
The industrial agriculture and industrial food sectors, knows as Big Ag and Big Food are responsible for these practices. Examples of companies in these sectors include Bayer (Monsanto), Pepsi Co, Coca-Cola Co, and Kellogg’s. The methods these companies use to produce food is not sustainable, and sometimes not ethical. Their industrial agricultural practices are responsible for mass deforestation and about ¼ of global greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane. This is known as extractive farming, taking away from the land.
Whereas regenerative farming gives back to the land!
What is regenerative farming?
Regenerative farming methods are known to enrich soil, instead of depleting it through tilling or spraying pesticides like the above-mentioned companies do. Regenerative farming practices are organic, and they include:
No chemical pesticides or insecticides
Leaving no bare soil
Leaving in roots or stalks in the ground
Integrating livestock to graze the land
Farming with these methods not only helps to enrich our topsoil that has been depleted but can capture carbon in the above ground atmosphere and sink it in the ground! An enriched topsoil with carbon in the soil rather than in the air, increases yields and increases the nutrients in those crops.
What can we do about it?
As individuals, the way we shop, cook, and eat all effects the planet. Our choices can have a positive or negative impact on the planet, and our health.
Over the last 25 years, humans have released about 50% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. These emissions come from a wide variety of human activity, with most emissions coming from the food system. Agricultural and transportation sectors are being stressed with increased demand as global populations continue to grow. The number one thing you can do to help reverse your carbon footprint, is avoid buying from the industrial agriculture and industrial food sectors.
Instead, support regenerative operations! Look for the organic and non-GMO labels, buy local, and cook at home… a lot! Shopping in this way and preparing your own food at home helps the health of the planet and the health of your body in so many ways.
Reduces the amount of sugar produced and ingested.
Reduces the amount of processed food or fast food produced and ingested.
Reduces the amount of factory farmed meats produced and ingested.
Reduces your carbon footprint by reducing transportation of what you eat.
Provides sustainable agriculture and access to whole foods for generations to come.
As the Native American Proverb goes: “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it for our children.”
If the global temperatures continue to rise by just 1.5 - 2°C, climate will indeed change for the worse. Weather will be catastrophic, and we would experience rising sea levels, extreme heat, and melting ice caps, for example. This would cause floods, drought, and millions of people to migrate. We have already seen climate refugees having to flee their countries after extreme weather changes made their lands uninhabitable. If lands are uninhabitable, it also means that crops can no longer be planted or grown in these areas.
Without abundant crops of fruits and vegetables, the Big Food companies can and will continue to produce packaged foods. Eating anything out of a box is sure to have fillers and won’t provide you or your children with the nutrients needed for a functional and healthy body or mind.
Waiting for governments to change legislations about how food is grown, sprayed, and delivered can take long. In the meantime, it is up to each individual household to shop and eat well. It is also important for each household to vote on these important issues.
In Part 2, we’ll cover more about how you should shop, and we'll look at artificial ingredients versus foods that are the ingredient themselves. For instance, it takes over 20 ingredients to make Doritos chips, including vegetable oil and maltodextrin… versus kale, which is the ingredient itself. We'll also cover how these ingredients affect your overall health.
As one of the most famous functional medicine and longevity doctors says:
“1000 calories from broccoli will have a different impact on your genetic expression than 1000 calories from gummy bears.” -Dr. Mark Hyman.