What Is Regenerative Agriculture? Why The Future of Our Health And Our Planet Lies In Our Soil
As a global health dietitian and sustainability advocate, the impact that our food system not only has on our health but also the health of our planet is something that is always on my mind. We currently live in an age where the idea of seasonality is almost obsolete when you can have fresh blueberries and strawberries in the dead of winter, asparagus in the fall, and avocados whenever you feel like them.
All you have to do is walk the aisles of your local supermarket to find that most of the food you encounter has traveled from all over the world to reach your shopping cart — yet what do you really know about the way that food was grown? It’s time we started asking more questions when it comes to our food, because the health of our bodies and the planet depends on it.
Disclaimer: This article is in partnership and sponsored by New Chapter, a leading vitamin and herbal supplement brand here in Vermont that is committed to supporting regenerative farming and sustainable sourcing practices. I am honored to be partnering with New Chapter over the next two months as we dive into these important topics. As always, thank you for supporting the brands that make the educational work we do here possible.
How Your Food Is Grown Matters — Here’s Why
Today, most of our food is grown using conventional farming practices, which often prioritizes yield and profit over taste, quality, and soil health. But don’t go blaming the farmers; our global food system makes it incredibly difficult and expensive for farmers to operate and make a living wage using practices that support nutrient density, improves soil health, and increases biodiversity.
With most of the government farm subsidies going to large, commodity farms, it can be difficult (if not nearly impossible) for smaller farms to be able to fund the transition away from conventional agriculture and towards regenerative — but that is changing.
With more awareness and research coming out each day form organizations like the Rodale Institute about the positive yield, nutrient density, and climate impacts associated with regenerative farming, and the 2018 Farm Bill making positive allotments for organic research and funding, the future of farming seems to be changing for the better.
What Is Regenerative Agriculture And Why Does It Matter?
If you are new to the regenerative food movement then you may be wondering what regenerative agriculture practices are and why it is so good for our health and the health of our planet.
By definition, regenerative agriculture practices are:
A way of farming that uses systems and principles that promote biodiversity, soil quality, improved watersheds, and enhanced ecosystems.
The aim of regenerative farming is to use farming for sequestering carbon into the soil, which has the potential to both improve soil quality and food quality, while also reversing the current global trend of atmospheric carbon accumulation that is threatening our planet.
This means that when a farm chooses to operate in a regenerative organic manner, it is focusing not only on yield but on the entire ecosystem that the farm is a part of — and soil health is the foundation of that system.
Because soil is the second greatest carbon sink after our oceans (meaning it traps carbon from the atmosphere and keeps it safely below ground), it can be used to not only improve the quality of our food and surrounding ecosystems, but also can be used as one of the greatest tools for combating climate change — and it’s right beneath our feet.
Nutrient Density Starts With Soil Quality
While people may be more obsessed with health and nutrition than ever, they often don’t think about where their food actually gets its nutrients from, and the answer starts with soil. Like all living beings, plants need nutrients to survive and grow strong, and they get those nutrients from our soil.
But with soil degradation and loss of top soil happening at alarmingly high rates due to conventional farming practices, we need to stop thinking of our soil as dirt and start valuing it for what it is — the foundation of our nutrition.
This is also why it is so important that the vitamin and herbal supplements you choose to compliment and support your overall nutrition are also supporting regenerative farming practices that place support and value in farmers who are working to improve our food system. New Chapter is a supplement company based in Vermont that has over 35 years of history honoring sourcing and formulation principles that always put the health of people and the planet first, because just like our food, not all supplements are created equal.
Why Ingredient Sourcing Matters In Your Food & Supplements
My Italian Grandmother used to say that any dish is only as good as the ingredients used to make it — and when it comes to our food, and our complementary supplements, this couldn’t be more applicable.
When it comes to supporting your health and the health of your family in the best possible way, you have to be thinking about the quality of ingredients you are consuming and how they were sourced, because like we have already discussed, sourcing can make a huge difference in nutrient quality and density.
This is why I love that since the beginning, New Chapter has committed to building strong relationships with suppliers for their supplements that support sustainable agriculture practices. As a registered dietitian, I am constantly getting asked by friends, family, and clients what supplements they should be choosing and which brands to trust . While I always recommend consuming the vast majority of your nutrients in the form of whole foods (grown using the most beneficial regenerative practices) I also have seen first-hand just how many people, even with incredibly varied diets, still are lacking some of the essential nutrients we need to thrive.
Especially here in New England, vitamin D is an essential nutrient that most people are deficient in given our geographic location. Magnesium deficiencies are also on the rise (which have been directly linked to soil quality). For these reasons, I often find that a multivitamin can be a helpful addition to many people's diets, and can help ensure that some of the natural (and often unavoidable) nutrient gaps can be filled.
I personally love New Chapter's Every Woman's One Daily Multivitamin and recommend it to most women looking for a whole-food based supplement. It helps support the unique needs of active women with nutrients for immune and energy support. This multivitamin is also fermented with whole foods to make it easier for your body to absorb the nutrients and includes a unique blend of herbs that support whole-body wellness.
How You Can Support Regenerative Agriculture Practices
Support Local: One of the best things you can do to support regenerative agriculture practices in your local community is to support the small farmers who are choosing to farm in this way. So the next time you are at your local farmers market, ask the farmers what growing practices they use and if they support regenerative farming. Most likely many of the small farmers you encounter will be open to discussing their farming practices and passionate about the way they choose to grow your food! You can also choose to support your local regenerative farmers by investing in a CSA and sharing the work they are doing with your friends and family.
Choose Brands Who Support Regenerative Farming: When you choose to support companies that are involved in the regenerative farming movement, you are choosing to use your money to vote for the kind of food system you want to see in the future. Companies like New Chapter are working hard to change the way our nutrients are sourced, the way farmers and workers are treated, and the way business should operate for social good, and by purchasing their products you are supporting their cause.
Advocate For Regenerative Farming: Lastly, become an advocate for regenerative farming in your local community. Simply by sharing this article, engaging in conversations, showing up at town meetings, or volunteering at your local regenerative farm are all ways that you can support this movement and invest in the future of farming and the health of all people and our planet.
I hope you now have a better understanding of the importance behind regenerative farming and how you can support this powerful movement. By choosing to support companies and farmers who are using regenerative practices, you are choosing to quite literally support the future food security of generations to come and we need your help now more than ever.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.