Happy Earth Day! - Be Plant Positive!

Fuel for the Future

6 March 2023

It’s National Nutrition Month, and this year’s theme, “Fuel for the Future,” feels custom made for Green Bites™. It speaks of sustainability and growing more, better food for a growing population. To plan for the future, we’ll have to get dirty. Do you ever stop to think about the Earth beneath your feet? Fun fact: it has been estimated that a single gram of soil may contain billions of bacteria.

Soil microbes impact the health of the soil and the food that is grown there. They fix nitrogen, suppress pests and pathogens, and can even reduce plant stress. Some microbes can cause disease or compete for nutrients, but (disclaimer: I am NOT a farmer) I like to compare soil to our gut microbiome – a community of microbes living in balance for the benefit of all.

What we do to the soil feeds or harms the microbes, just as the food we eat impacts the health of our gut microbiome. I have this compost bin in my backyard. Every time I add my food scraps to it, I enjoy thinking about how this act will nourish the soil, which in turn supports growth of healthy food, which will then nourish me. It’s the ultimate form of recycling.

Sadly, the industrial agriculture system is built around taking from the soil, as much as possible with no predictive plan; monocrops endanger pollinators, erosion outpaces soil formation, and toxic runoff is given no consideration. All of this stands in the way of “fuel for the future.”

Regenerative agriculture is a dynamic system designed to restore soil health, address inequality, and leave the entire ecosystem in better shape for future generations. Small farmers in my community share ideas through the Bionutrient Food Association and I’ve learned how this a ffects nutrient density(spoiler alert: a blueberry might have 8x the key nutrients for human health, depending on the methods used to grow it).

To continue growing the way most large-scale farms do…it is literally not sustainable. We are already suffering the negative consequences of poor growing systems: increased reliance on pesticides and herbicides, lower nutritional value of food, inadequate agricultural resilience that leads to climate catastrophes.

Things have got to change, and we also need to help our farmers, who literally keep us alive. A new Farm Bill is coming up this year (if you don’t know about this bill, it’s responsible for over 400 billion dollars of federal spending every year, including food assistance programs and farm subsidies). I strongly believe that we need to support farmers in their transition to regenerative agriculture. We must nurture our land like we need to nurture our bodies (because our health depends on the soil). I urge you to check out Regenerate America and sign the petition if you agree. Can we make the 2023 Farm Bill work for farmers, environment, and human health?

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