As a parent of a 3 year old, food and the future of our planet are top of mind issues. On one hand I find myself wondering if the food we eat is truly healthy and nourishing us. On the other hand I can’t help but ponder about our children’s future given a food production system that primarily is based on destroying natural resources and that also contributes to climate change?
I am cautiously optimistic since solutions already exist for ensuring not just sustainable but regenerative agriculture (understood as doing no harm vs. increasing/improving the land). Regenerative agriculture encompasses farming practices that aim to build healthy soils, which in turn provide nutritious food, clean air and clean water.
Nutritious food results from elimination of chemicals in food production and greater diversity of organisms in the soil that ensures optimal nutrient profiles in plants. Clean air is a result from carbon sequestration in the soils. Clean water is a result of soil profiles that have a capacity to store more water underground and also results from prevention of fertilizer/soil run off into water sources.
Regenerative agriculture is also about ensuring well-being of animals and farmers as well as strengthening local communities through local food. There are benefits for subsistence farmers who will save on expensive input costs, retain sovereignty over seed production and reduce exposure to harmful chemicals.
Some of the farming practices include use of cover crops, avoiding use of chemicals that kill soil health, minimal disturbance to the soil, crop rotations, etc. Thus in this manner soils, health, watersheds, wildlife habitats, local communities and climate are regenerated!
The urgency is to transition away from our current, predominantly reductionist agricultural system that mines the soil, thereby contributing to climate change and destroying human health, ecological wealth, wildlife habitat and local communities. The alternate system – regenerative agriculture is fortunately one that can deliver multiple wins. The crucial link to facilitate such a transition is the consumer, who will need to vote with their food choices.
So next time we bite into that apple let us think about our impact on the soil, water and air!
About the author: Priti Narasimhan is mom of 3 year old, Siyona and Founder and Director at Bee's Knees Regeneratives. Narasimhan's work has been at the intersection of Agriculture and Climate Change. She also holds a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard Kennedy School.