Support Regenerative Farming For a Healthy Heart and World
By Dr. Mercola
We face a number of very pressing problems in the world today. Water scarcity is getting worse as aquifers are drained faster than they can be refilled. Soil erosion and degradation is also rapidly worsening. Ditto for air and water pollution.
Land is turning into desert at a rapid clip, and with it, we’re losing biodiversity of both plant and animal life. Manure lagoons from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) pose hazards to the environment and human health.
Everything is getting more toxic, and according to scientists, we may have less than 60 years’ worth of “business as usual” before we reach a point at which nature will no longer sustain us on any front, be it water, air, or soil quality.1
Modern Farming Has Proven Itself a Failed Experiment
These environmental problems, which have all been either caused or made worse by modern farming practices, have also led to a distinct reduction in food quality and safety. Nutrition has declined and toxicity has escalated, thanks to the excessive use of agricultural chemicals.
Agricultural overuse of drugs, especially antibiotics, has also led to the development of drug resistant disease,2 which has now become a severe health threat.
Modern farming practices have also been accused of contributing to global climate change — a controversial and hotly contested issue if there ever was one. However, let us not lose sight of what’s really important.
Regardless of whether manmade climate change is real, or whether the climate shifts are the result of wholly natural warming and cooling cycles, the fact remains that our weather and environment are changing, and these changes pose challenges to our food security and survival.
Moreover, these challenges must be addressed with genuine, long-term, and sustainable solutions. We have to learn how to overcome droughts, floods, and various temperature fluctuations.
Regenerative Agriculture — One Solution for Many Problems
The really good news is that we have already found a solution that addresses virtually all of these problems.
It doesn’t matter if you believe climate change is an issue worth your consideration or not. It doesn’t matter whether you believe water shortages are a pressing concern, or whether you care about preserving our butterfly, bee,3 or fish populations.
Even if you care about just one of these many issues and pooh-pooh all the rest, your time, money, and effort is best spent by supporting regenerative farming.
The reason for this is because regenerative farming helps rebuild and optimize soil quality, and the benefits to air, water, ecosystem, food, animal welfare and human health are downstream results of this optimization.
Five Tenets of Soil Regeneration
To halt environmental destruction, and to continue growing healthy foods, we must rebuild our eroding topsoil. Using the following five tenets of soil regeneration, a farmer can “build” approximately one inch of topsoil in a five-year period:
- No-tillage. Tilling is probably one of the most destructive aspects of modern-day industrial agriculture, as it disrupts and destroys soil biology. It’s particularly harmful for the mycorrhizal fungi — important soil fungi that attach to the roots of plants. Today, no-till farming has started to catch on in the Northern Plains, which is encouraging.
- Plant diversity and rotation
- Multispecies cover-cropping. While home gardeners can add crop cover like mulch or wood chips, large scale operations achieve the same results by planting cover crops. Cover crops may be grown before a cash crop, along with a cash crop, or after. These plants pull down and “trap” carbon in the soil, where it does the most good (opposed to in the air).
Cover crops also act as insulation, so the soil doesn’t get as hot or cold as it would if bare. This allows microbes to thrive longer. Also, the soil biology heats up the soil, which can extend your overall growing season in colder areas.
- Maintaining living roots in the soil year-round. It’s important to have living plant roots in the soil as long as possible throughout the year. To accomplish this, use cover crops when not growing a cash crop. Interestingly, as described in Mother Jones,10 depleted and eroded grasslands can also be regenerated by adding compost, allowing the grasses to grow back faster, while simultaneously nourishing the soil.
- Livestock integration and diversification
You Are What You Eat … And Health Begins in the Soil
Aside from the environmental harm being done by CAFOs and chemical-dependent agriculture, the current food production system also takes an incredible toll on human health. Many kids are not getting the nutrients they need in order to thrive, especially in the U.S. where nearly 40 percent of children’s diets come from added sugars and unhealthy fats.20 Only 21 percent of youth aged 6-19 eat the recommended five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
Your best bet for finding healthy food is to grow your own. If that is not possible then connect with a local farmer that raises crops and animals according to organic standards.
Remember, even if you’re not a farmer, you can still have an impact by implementing regenerative aspects such as no-till, plant diversity, and using ground cover like wood chips into your home garden. Along with that, plant some pollinator species to provide a habitat for pollinators. Monarch butterflies, for example, need milkweed to feed and reproduce. When purchasing bee-friendly plants, make sure they have not been pretreated with pesticides that are toxic to bees.
Most importantly, as a consumer, use your dollars to drive change, and educate others as to the importance of nutrient-dense, toxin-free food. Every single time you spend money you make an impact, whether you’re buying organic heirloom seeds for your garden, organic grassfed food for your family, organic cotton clothes, or any other organic items, furnishings, and building materials.
It all adds up, and together we can drive larger industries that have such an enormous impact on our environment and health toward more sustainable, regenerative practices.
Seabreeze is your local farm here in Coastal San Diego County. We grow healthy, sustainable produce with farm animal integration and we are even a Monarch butterfly sanctuary.
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