Many of the items that we sell at Mother Earth Food are grown using “Regenerative Farming” practices. And while we realize that most consumers these days are familiar with Organic Farming practices and what that involves, Regenerative Farming is a term that is not as familiar to those looking for healthy and sustainably raised foods. Our hope is to change that and provide you with a basic understanding of what Regenerative Farming is all about. To best understand it, it’s important to put our agricultural practices into an historical perspective…
Humans have been farming for more than 10,000 years and many of the farming methods we’ve adopted over these years have had a significant and detrimental impact on both our environmental health as well as our human health. Since the Industrial Revolution, most of the food we consume around the world is grown through varying methods of what is called “Intensive industrial agriculture”; which is a form of modern farming that became prevalent during the era of the Industrial Revolution. It involves replacing crop rotation with chemical fertilizers; replacing weed reduction with herbicides; and replacing pest management with pesticides.
In the mid-20th-century, Organic Farming methods gained popularity because they eliminated the harm inflicted on the environment by the standard intensive industrial agriculture of the time. And Organic Farming does exactly that… it reduces the harm to the environment, but, unfortunately in these times, it does not go far enough. Yes, it keeps the land clean and our food system healthy (and we absolutely love and support it), but it does not necessarily create a farming system that rebuilds and heals – and that’s what’s necessary with the current condition of climate change. With the acceleration of the global impact of carbon emissions (especially from our food growing systems) we now need agriculture to do more than just provide us with clean healthy food. We need our farming systems to be a force in battling climate change; to help sequester carbon and to mitigate, and even help reverse the damage that we’ve created since the industrial revolution. And that’s where Regenerative Farming excels.
Regenerative Farming builds on the foundation and work created by organic farming practices. It’s about growing and raising food in a way that is more aligned with the natural rhythms of nature. It’s about restoring the biology of our fields and re-building our soil, instead of simply extracting as much as we can from the earth.
While the definition of Regenerative Farming continues to evolve with time, in simple terms, regenerative agriculture is a holistic approach to agriculture that focuses on the interconnection of farming systems and the ecological system. This concept is not new. It was used by indigenous communities centuries ago, long before we practiced industrial agriculture. It consisted of farming principles that worked with the world’s natural systems instead of against them. Currently, Regenerative Agriculture is the only agricultural system defined by the creation of beneficial ecological outcomes. Here’s what it involves:
- Minimizing soil disturbances – using farming practices such as limited or no-tilling that minimize physical and biological soil disturbances.
- Soil coverage – Instead of relying on tilling, regenerative farming practices focus on keeping the soil covered with vegetation and natural materials through mulching, cover crops, and pastures.
- Increased plant diversity – Diversity is an essential component in building healthy soils that retain excess water and is beneficial to other wildlife and pollinators.
- Keeping living roots in the soil as much as possible – Having living roots in the soil ensures that fields are never bare. It can be done by farming practices such as planting winter cover crops or having land in permanent pasture. Keeping living roots in the soil helps stabilize the soil, retaining excess water and nutrient runoff.
- Integrate animals into the farm as much as possible – Manure produced by livestock can add valuable nutrients to the soil, reducing the need for fertilizers, and increasing soil organic matter. Healthy soils capture large amounts of carbon and water and reduce the amount of polluted runoff.
At Mother Earth Food we both honor and support Organic Farming. It is a tremendous force in the world of agriculture. And we certainly don’t see Organic Farming going anywhere . . . it’s both necessary and valuable to our food delivery system. We believe that the best food comes from the combination of Regenerative and Organic practices – Regenerative Organic. Organic agriculture does a beautiful job of tackling the environmental and human harm of pesticides and chemical food production. It has provided a healthier and safer way to eat without harming our land and poisoning our waters. Now, however, we live in a world where climate change and its ever-present disturbances are our number one issue. Just doing no harm does not go far enough. We need a farming system that heals and restores – that can help mitigate climate change and sequester carbon. That is what Regenerative Farming does. It’s the next step.
Mother Earth Foods supports both Organic and Regeneratively grown food – Regenerative Organic. They are both exceptional food systems. We believe that for the long-term health and sustainability of our planet and communities, a combination of the two is the ideal farming method. We look to not only procure foods raised using both systems of agriculture, but to also promote these farming practices through education and information dissemination as well, so that you and future generations can live a healthy life with the promise of a sustainable future.