The Regenerative mindset is growing. We live in a very fragile world system. A system that over time evolved into what it is simply because sustainability and optimal nutrition were trades for mere convenience. Price increases and food shortages are around every corner. Malnutrition has just about doubled In recent years. We are seeing it play out in the current news cycle. When will the next shortage strike? It may be closer than we think. In the years leading up to today, instead of taking food into our own hands, (most)people as a whole began sitting on their couches with their eyes on a screen. Instead of putting our heads in the sand (using our minds to create solutions for the soil), we chose to put our heads into the sand and ignore the errors of the time. The soil was degenerating.
What is Regenerative Agriculture?
Get your mind in the dirt but your head out of the sand! A regenerating soil. Define Regenerate: To give new life or energy to; revitalize.
Apply to agriculture and you have a system or method of giving new life or energy to the soil. Revitalizing the entire agri-culture, the ecosystem. When modern practices and industrialization entered the space efficiency and yield took over. They were front and center next to the ultimate idol, the dollar. "It doesn't matter what you do so long as you increase yield and thus fill my pockets!" That is the conversation I suspect the shareholder had with the farmer who took the bait for the bite, or had no choice but to take the carrot in order to survive. The system was created as such. Yet now, here we are. The space is evolving and regenerative agriculture is reaching new potential.
So what is it really? We talked about a very basic definition, but how do we clear the air and make it simple for the average person to understand?
"At least organic has a definition and a formal certification process that is sometimes flawed but defined and by and large complied with by honest producers. "Regenerative" is some nebulous definition that sounds good but is as yet formally defined."
What can be done to get the average person to understand why regenerative agriculture is needed? And what must we caution about when entering the regenerative agriculture space?
1. The first thing I (and many others) believe we must do is this:
We must not forget the definition, the genesis of what Regenerative Agriculture truly is and find ways to achieve a Regenerative sourced diet. Vast importance should be placed on the fact it must be standardized to prevent confusion. This has been the first step in ensuring true success and overcoming many other issues that most experts are telling me they see on a daily basis - the mis-labeling of what truly is Regenerative! When asking a group, one pointed out the fact, "At least organic has a definition and a formal certification process that is sometimes flawed but defined and by and large complied with by honest producers. "Regenerative" is some nebulous definition that sounds good but is as yet formally defined."
Thus to take Regenerative agriculture to its ultimate potential it needs to be properly defined and agreed upon in a set standard. In order to take the reins from the monopolized producers into a more sustainable hand it must be done. It should be universally defined. Having too many versions of what Regenerative is could actually cause more harm than good. (I know of many organizations out there that are doing a great job in doing just this and will endorse them with their approval.)
A self sustaining ecosystem where everything is intertwined and working together. The compounding interest of your farm no longer goes into the pockets of the "paper money" shareholders but the true wealth is in the soil, regenerating, year over year, healing and sustaining.
True wealth is in the soil! When every bit of that environment is being used and the energy is being regenerated. This is how we build and ensure the future!
Instead of depleting it for the dollar yield the focus goes towards repleting it for its sustainability and growth. Modern farming and industrialized process cannot compare! The result is healthier food for a healthy planet! Food that does not lack nutrients!
2. Additional truly notable input in previous discussion I had mentioned,
"Most farmland in the world is in a degenerating state (first hand evidence you can see the land getting lower as the hedges, fences, irrigation rises around the pasture/field) where the soil is being mined (first hand evidence you can watch soil blowing away during any harvest) and the biodiversity reduced, this makes less nutrient dense food (compare any vegetable in a supermarket vs. a home grown one or one from a regen ag farm), which requires more processing (people eat way more UPF than 40 years ago and are fatter as a result), which makes people die earlier and leads to deserts/bogs/scrub (the end of the cycle for brittle or non brittle habitats) which is uninhabitable. Regenerative Agriculture is a farming method which utilizes Holistic Management, permaculture, silvopasture, Agroforestry methods and philosophies to grow soil, increase biodiversity, store greenhouse gases, improve animals welfare, reduce farming inputs whilst producing the maximum amount of food the environment can sustain and addressing any weak links in the four ecosystem processes thus sustaining life on the planet without regenerative agriculture we (all life) will live for a shorter time, with lower quality of life and more suffering."
We couldn't agree more here at Liberation Food Company. These are things we must all begin to take seriously. We can turn things around with our health and environment without creating destructive policies and controls. It can be done in a positive way, a proper way. The way is "Regenerative." And I would add even that the community is a great force to be reckoned with!
3. Another great mind when discussing what we can do to bring more people to understanding the space wrote,
"I really feel people are slowly changing with regard to food choices and wanting to be more involved with where their food is coming from and who and how it has been grown. Urban agriculture seems to have had a surge since covid and that needs to be encouraged through community gardens, workshops and information centers. Councils have the capacity to promote those things to their local ratepayers."
4. What is stopping us? What we all can agree upon what needs to change is the following:
"...most farmers are locked into a chemical agronomic cycle and to break from that, even though they may want to, is a very scary thought." Instead of relying on these chemical conglomerates we should instead "educate the people. When the people use their monetary power to determine food choices then growers will listen. And the right people will be voted in to local councils and gov positions who then have the capacity to support agriculture to change. You can’t expect a farmer on his own to forsake his farm and debt burden to adopt something wholly contradictory to his practice because it will be good for the land and the climate down the track? There has to be an incentive and support."
The truth to the matter is this: Profit margins are too close for comfort in the business of food production. This is what has gotten us into this pit in the first place. As I have mentioned a few times by now, the yield and the paper dollar are the idol of the lenders. It is going to take much work and also time in order to get producers and their creditors to make changes. As I said in a previous blog post the changes will only happen when these major companies have no choice but to make these changes. "It will have to make economic sense for farmers to make any wholesale changes, and even them it will be slow," said one expert in the field.
5. One mention that I liked in particular was the following:
"If people are degrading land and calling it regeneration, it is a lack of knowledge or environmental understanding, not just language. Explanation with precise language will assist the cause, but trying to exactly define it will put many off side who are moving slowly in the right direction." This we must try to avoid. We need clear goals.
I feel is a good place to capstone this writing:
"I grew up while organic was growing up on one of the earliest commercial organic cattle farms in the US. Organic worked to grow like this post suggests regen should. Because the organic community began with dogma rather than clear evidence based goals, activists and activist organizations have become the primary drivers of the organic message…with consumers. This makes for a rift between what consumers believe is happening and what is really happening both on organic and non-organic farms. My impression is that regen zealots who are themselves often lacking formal science and agricultural science education are pushing regen down that same path. Claims not based in science driving a market rather than evidence based decisions both on the ground and in the marketplace. The way to avoid that is to learn to communicate a simple and clear set of land management and ecological goals. Without that the market will tend toward claims of superfoods and miracle cures to sell more stuff for more money."
"The way to avoid that is to learn to communicate a simple and clear set of land management and ecological goals. Without that the market will tend toward claims of superfoods and miracle cures to sell more stuff for more money."
I have to agree, in entering this space we must caution against falling into the pit with the vipers. We must be honorable. Have integrity. And always ensure we stick to the genesis of what it means to be Regenerative. The origin. What is Regenerative?