Everyone has an opinion on diet. I want to be clear that I am not suggesting anyone eat a certain way – eat what feels good in your body.
My studies have taken me on a deep dive into all farming practices and I wish to share my learning on the agricultural industry and regenerative farming.
Regenerative Practices is just one of the categories that I take into consideration with regards to my purchase decisions. Please refer to my Sustainable and Ethical Shopping Guide to learn of other important and impactful aspects that can guide your shopping choices.
Organic is a word that takes us in the right direction but it is far from the entire picture. Organic, which generally refers to farming without the use of chemical fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides, is a great first step to helping the Earth and your body by reducing chemical load; however, there are also ways to go beyond organic that can make farming regenerative!
Regenerative farming practices do just that – REGENERATE. They build soil, restore water cycles and increase biodiversity.
YES, agriculture can be part of the solution to global climate change and restoration of Earth’s vital functions. Traditionally it has been Indigenous land stewards that held balance for care for the Earth, and they continue to do this work. There are also many other farmers who are committed to regenerative farming practices. Some general regenerative practices include managed rotational grazing, silvopasture, no-till vegetable and field crop production and biodynamic farming. The products that come from these practices include pasture-raised eggs, poultry and pork, 100% grass-fed beef and lamb, and organic vegetables and grain crops.
Does regenerative agriculture have to involve raising meat, you might ask? Simply put, yes it does. This is because animals are a critical component of a healthy ecosystem. Their manure and urine is the best fertilizer and properly managed grazing stores carbon and builds soil, along with the myriad of benefits that come from healthy soil. The mechanism for how grazing helps build soil is through the “liquid carbon pathway”. To really dig in, the action of grazing stimulates the plants to grow more. To grow, plants fix carbon from the atmosphere via photosynthesis, and turn much of this carbon into root sugars that are excreted into the soil to feed soil microbes. In turn, soil microbes cycle nutrients and process soil organic matter, which is the foundation to healthy soil. When plants are overgrazed, however, this process stops. This is why proper management for rotation grazing is so important. Using electric fences, farmers can move grazing animals on the pasture in a way that allows the plants to “rest” and complete a re-growth cycle. Oh, and not to mention that the nutrient-density of meat that is raised on pasture is incredible!
If you look deeply into regenerative farming you may come across another important phrase “CARBON SEQUESTERING”. Se- what? Sequester, or carbon sequestering is one of the KEY ways we make an environmental impact to SLOW DOWN CLIMATE CHANGE. This means that we use plants and soil to catch the Carbon Dioxide in our atmosphere responsible for global warming in the air and store the carbon back in the soil using plants. This way the carbon helps us grow healthy food instead of heating up the planet. When we talk about a “carbon footprint” we are talking about how much extra carbon we are adding to the already too much carbon in the atmosphere and we tend to think of airplanes, tractors, and cars. While those things are large contributors one of the greatest solutions is grazing animals and using plants to help capture the excess carbon WHILE we continue to look at reducing our use of fossil fuels. Believe it or not our food choices can hugely make a difference on the carbon footprint we leave in the world just by shopping from farms using organic, biodynamic, rotational grazing, and pasture raised animals.
Think of it this way. A small scale farmer will grow a mixture of grains, vegetables, and fruits. They may also have livestock. Having a variety of plant types and different animal species acts as natural pest control. Using animals on pasture means they may need less grains which means less need for heavy machinery and less mono-culture crops (think corn). The natural grazing of animals acts as fertilizer and helps minimize fuel for forest fires by keeping a balance to prairie grasses and shrubs. Shopping from the local farm means you eat closer to home which means less car distance or fossil fuels needed. Less fossils and less pesticides means cleaner water and you did that all by choosing to support regenerative agriculture by eating healthy well grown food.
Wouldn’t it feel great to drink knowing you are making a positive difference to the environment? Much like regenerative agriculture, the grower has gone beyond the idea of just being organic and views the production as a living ecosystem from plant to bottle. This means that it considers insect health, soil health, and an overall environmental impact all it produces. There are many wineries popping up who employ biodynamic practices. Please see the article on regenerative farming for a deep dive into farming practices and how they can make a very positive impact on our global climate crisis.
This page is an explanation of one of the categories in our Sustainable and Ethical Gift Ideas Guide (click the image below).