Written by Andrew Gunther
Before I get shot down, let me start by saying that I believe the collection of practices being described today as ‘regenerative farming’ have huge potential to put the brakes on — and indeed reverse — many of the negative impacts of industrial agriculture.
Regenerative farming practices and principles offer solutions to some of the crazy activities that many farmers have been encouraged — or even forced — to partake in. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that the widespread adoption of regenerative farming is essential if we’re going to feed a global population of nine billion people by 2050 while at the same time protecting the soil, water and climate.
For decades, most farmers in the West have been encouraged to spray ever-greater quantities of chemicals to control weeds and insects, in the process creating so-called ‘superweeds’ and ‘superbugs’ resistant to almost all known herbicides and insecticides. In order to meet the ever-growing demand for so-called cheap meat, dairy and eggs, farmers are forced to invest in farming systems that confine billions of animals; where the pain, fear and suffering caused are written off as an acceptable cost. These confinement operations require farmers to feed antibiotics like candy in order to suppress the diseases that would otherwise break out in the dirty and stressful conditions, while the deluge of fecal waste — a toxic concoction of feces, heavy metals, bacteria and pharmaceutical residues — is stored in vast, open-air lagoons and cannot be spread or used without poisoning the surrounding soil, waterways and air.
Over the years, a plethora of marketing initiatives and food label claims have emerged to address (or should I say pacify) the ever-growing public concern about the human health, animal welfare and environmental costs of industrial farming systems. Most of them have done more harm than good.
Take, for example, the “Natural/All Natural” label claim, which epitomizes everything that’s wrong with our food labeling laws. It’s a meaningless food label claim developed by industry to con naïve consumers into believing they’re paying more for better food, making millions of dollars for unscrupulous corporations and retailers that use it. Despite what consumers might think, the…