We’re all about great tasting food. It’s one of the reasons we work with small suppliers. The other is that by buying from suppliers like these, we are also supporting their regenerative farming efforts, which is good for our planet and good for our plates.
But what is regenerative farming and why does it matter?
Regenerative farming is a way of restoring the nutrients in soil through how we grow on the land. This farming method keeps carbon in the ground, reduces the impact of climate change, and makes food more nutrient-rich. It does this through using less pesticides, letting animals roam the land, and increasing the biodiversity.
Yes, this sounds a lot like organic farming. And many organic farms are using regenerative practises. So are non-organic farms. Regenerative farming is not about a certificate or organising body, it’s the way in we grow our food that protects the soil and wildlife.
Groundswell, the UK forum for regenerative farming, shares five key principles for regenerative farming:
1. Don’t disturb the soil
2. Keep the soil surface covered
3. Keep living roots in the soil
4. Grow a diverse range of crops
5. Bring grazing animals back to the land.
Regenerative or sustainable
We want to know that the food we eat is good for the planet. Sustainability has become synonymous with climate-friendly. As Dan Cox, chef and regenerative farmer, says: “Everyone’s talking about sustainability, but why would you sustain something that’s wrong? Sustainable isn’t a thing, it’s about regeneration.”
One farm in the USA found that its soil captures three times as much carbon as that of its neighbours. And here in the UK, there is a growing number of farms looking to regenerative farming to increase the variety of their crops and the taste while also capturing carbon.
Save the plants
According to Natoora, in the last century we have lost 93% of our unique seed varieties. Modern farming favour standardised crops. All uniform, and no variety in appearance or flavour.
Whereas, regenerative farming means a diverse range of crops. Like Wye Valley Salads, who have 150 different varieties of salad, veg and edible flowers. Farming in this way can save our unique and heritage seeds and increase food diversity on our plates.
Good for our guts
Our food today has fewer nutrients than food of 50 years ago. Modern farming reduces the soil quality, so our food cannot absorb as many of the nutrients we need to eat to stay healthy.
Studies find that regenerative farming can increase the density of nutrients in our food. It also points to our having more microbiomes in our guts which means we are more likely to have a stronger immune system. Some studies also show a link between nutrients in food and obesity or malnutrition.
While more studies are needed for conclusive evidence of the link between how our food is grown and how it helps us stay healthy, what we can see so far is that regenerative agriculture is good for our health.
“Diets that are better for the climate are better for our health, particularly when it comes to reducing the prevalence of non-communicable diseases linked to obesity, for example. Working on the entire food chain benefits not only the climate, but other sustainable development objectives too."
~ Olivier De Schutter, Green European Journal
We also know that what our animals eat makes a difference to the flavour of meat, as well as how many nutrients animals can pass on. Animals that feed from the land are healthier, have better nutrition and taste better when they reach our plates.
The same is true for vegetables. It’s why we get such great feedback about the products in our boxes. We know that our suppliers are using regenerative practises and this has a huge contribution to what you taste on your plate.
Small batch producers
By supporting small batch producers, we can help drive change across the food system. It’s not about cutting out all mass produced food from your diet. That’s unrealistic and, for most of us, unattainable. However, more farmers are turning to regenerative practices (including a certain fast food company) so change is coming.
Instead, it’s better to pimp up your cupboard with choice ingredients that you can use throughout the year. You can add small batch fresh foods that support the local economy to your shopping basket. It’s good for your tastebuds, your health and the planet.
Sign up to our monthly newsletter to learn more about the regenerative farming movement and how to make better food choices.