Published on January 23rd, 2017 | by Guest Contributor4
Regenerative Food is Healthier for You and the Planet
We know that we don’t need expensive superfoods to be healthy, but what if all of the food we grew were nutritionally dense? Regenerative farming’s purpose is to fight climate change and to produce healthier, regenerative food by building healthier soil.
Regenerative food is more than just a superfood trend, but before we talk about what regenerative foods are, let’s talk about what makes a superfood a superfood.
What are superfoods? To answer that question, we need to look at how our industrialized food system works. As we’ve moved more and more toward industrial agriculture, farmers have been selecting seeds based on how well they grow. That doesn’t sound like a bad thing, but a hardier plant isn’t always the most nutrient-dense. Foods like white onions and iceberg lettuce may be easy to grow, but nutritionally they’re not so hot.
Meanwhile, we’ve moved from using organic inputs – like compost – to fossil fuel-derived fertilizers and chemical pesticides. These farming practices further damage our soil.
Superfoods are fruits and vegetables that either haven’t been selected down in this way or have maintained a good nutritional profile despite the biodiversity loss.
But what if we could rebuild our soil and transform our agricultural system so that every vegetable in the produce section was as nutritionally dense as it was before the industrial agriculture boom? Proponents of regenerative farming believe that we can, and that we can mitigate the effects of climate change while we’re at it.
Regenerative food refers not to the food itself but how it’s grown. Think of it as the next level of organic agriculture. According to Regeneration International, “The key to regenerative agriculture is that it not only “does no harm” to the land but actually improves it, using technologies that regenerate and revitalize the soil and the environment.” Farmers grow regenerative food using permaculture principles.
The technology they refer to are farming techniques that help our world’s soil capture more CO2. Regenerative farming fights climate change by diverting CO2 back to the soil, where it can nourish our crops.
Health Benefits of Regenerative Food
And the great news? Food grown this way isn’t just better for the planet: it’s better for us. Our foods are less nutritious than ever because of soil degradation, so farming practices that build healthy soil also grow healthier foods.
The good news is that regenerative food can refer to anything from carrots to coffee (or whatever hot beverages for breakfast you enjoy*). The bad news is that finding regenerative foods isn’t always easy. Regeneration International has some helpful tips for how to make your food habits more regenerative. Here are some to start with:
- Eat less meat. Or no meat! Meat production is an incredibly inefficient use of soil, land, and water.
- Buy from small farms. The money we spend on food matters. Shop from small, local farmers whenever you can.
- Grow your own food. The most local food comes from your garden, whether it’s raised beds in the backyard or containers on your porch. In your garden, you can control how you treat the soil and choose healthy inputs like compost to build healthier soil.
There are companies like Nutiva, Patagonia Provisions, and Dr. Bronner’s who are committed to supporting regenerative farming. Patagonia created a short film about how regenerative farming works and how regenerative food could solve climate change and world hunger. It’s inspiring and definitely worth a watch:
*This post was sponsored by Harlan Fairbanks.