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The School of UnLearning: Activism
Activism

Healthy Soil for a Healthy Planet

Why you should care about regenerative farming

By Cattie Khoury, Toodaloo Founder


Ever heard the saying “as above, so below”? This expression’s meaning is widespread but is used to describe how someone’s actions on earth will be reflected in the astral plane, how what happens in nature is reflected within the human body and how what occurs in the human body, is reflected outward.

When the body is healthy and balanced from within, we sleep well, we wake up rested, our skin is glowing, our mood is thriving and our vitality is strong. When the body is out of balance (imagine some hormone is higher than normal or you are deficient in some vitamin or mineral), our body expresses that dysbiosis in many forms. From acne, to weight gain, mental health challenges and more, what is happening on the outside (or “above” ) is reflective of what is happening “below”.

This is also true for our planet. A healthy, harmonious planet is able to moderate its own temperature, purify its air, clean its water, support a diverse array of creatures, grow nutritious food and maintain ecosystems for generations. Yet, that is not the case. Right now, we are degrading our planet at an unprecedented level. What’s happening “above” is our planet is heating, ecosystems are being destroyed, we are facing a 6th mass extinction, our food is devoid of nutrients and pollution is choking everything around us. What’s happening “below” is our is experiencing the effects of too much human activity which has put far too much carbon in the atmosphere, and not enough in our soil. Just as if your body was deficient in some nutrient and expressed itself, our planet is deficient in soil carbon and is expressing itself.

But believe it or not, carbon dioxide is not the enemy, there is simply just too much of it in the wrong place. It belongs in our soil. Our planet was designed so that soil is actually a huge carbon sink which sequesters carbon emissions. When the soil is rich with carbon, it creates magic. It not only sequesters carbon, but also purifies our air, cleans our water, allows for more nutritious food to grow, supports biodiversity and provides the stability that thriving ecosystems need.

On a microscopic level, healthy soil, like the kind we see in regenerative agriculture, is as expansive and intricate as outer space. For a moment, imagine I am Neil Degrasse Tyson talking about the cosmos.

Get this - in just 1 tablespoon of soil, there is a vibrant ecosystem of over 100,000 million different species of tiny little microorganisms that are the reason why plants can eat carbon dioxide for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Billions upon billions of these hungry critters build neighborhoods in the soil and break down the nutrients in the soil so that plants can actually absorb them. This is what creates nutrition in food. Without these little guys, we wouldn’t have soil, we wouldn’t have nutritious food and our plants wouldn’t be able to sequester carbon dioxide, and this is also a large reason why our planet is suffering from so many of the challenges we described earlier. We need these little critters to keep our entire earthly system in balance, but our current agricultural practices inherently destroy everything they need to survive.

The Destructiveness of Modern Farming

Our current method of farming called “conventional agriculture” is one of the leading drivers of climate change. Conventional or traditional agriculture is anything but traditional. It was a system devised in the 1900’s and has taken control over our country. Its intentions were actually quite pure. The goal was to produce food in the most efficient way so we could feasibly “feed the world” and ensure farmers would be protected.

Farmers applied a factory mentality to accomplish their goal of growing the biggest and best looking plants possible. They began tiling the soil, genetically modifying seeds and monocropping, or only growing one or very few species of crops repeatedly. Growing the same type of crop repeatedly makes that crop extremely susceptible to pests and infectious disease because we. In order to ensure these crops wouldn’t be eaten by bugs or killed off by disease, fossil fuel intensive fertilizers and pesticides were created to kill off any invasive life forms that could harm the plant. The problem with these inputs is that they don’t just kill the “bad guys,” they kill all life. And now farmers are experiencing the disastrous effects. This system has sucked all of the life out of the soil and surrounding environment, and we are now left with nutrient-deprived, Frankenstein foods that are destroying our health.

What we put into our body is responsible for our mental health and physical health, as well as the health of our planet. When food does not contain enough nutrients, we never experience the feeling of being “full” thus we eat more, and more and more causing weight gain, inflammation and more. We are eating things that are no longer real, but “natural” AKA made in a laboratory using genetically engineered ingredients which our body may not know how to process. We are consuming harmful toxic pesticides that are known to cause cancer and so many other diseases. We are eating foods that are causing climate change. We are losing touch with nature and the natural way of life, in exchange for what?

It is this lifetime that we will have to face these problems, and the good news is that we have a solution that can put us on the right path. A solution so powerful it heals the soil by bringing life back to it and around it, restoring balance to the ecosystem and in turn producing the most nutritious array of diverse foods on the planet. It’s called regenerative agriculture.

The Power of Regenerative Agriculture

Regenerative agriculture is a back to basics way of farming that was developed by indigenous people and has been practiced for thousands of years. It does not use chemicals or fertilizers, it does not disturb the soil and it does not use genetically modified seeds. It creates a flourishing ecosystem with bugs, worms and critters of all shapes and sizes fortifying the soil to produce rich, diverse species of crops that can absorb all of the nutrients it needs from fertile soil.

It incorporates nature back into the system which allows for regenerative farms to flourish with biodiversity, nutrient dense foods, climate stable ecosystems, sequester carbon dioxide, clean our water, purify our air and bring hope back to life as we know it. To me, this is a spiritual experience that unifies us with nature and puts us all back into harmony with the natural order of the world.

I believe we can change the world for the better by supporting regenerative agriculture. This is why I created my company Toodaloo. We have partnered with the Rodale Institute so that with every purchase, we help farmers transition from conventional farming systems to regenerative farming systems. Regenerative agriculture is the place where so many of the problems we face today meet, and if we switched all of our farming systems to regenerative agriculture, we could solve so many of the human and planetary health problems we are facing. According to the Rodale Institute, “if we switched all of our farms to regenerative farming systems, we could sequester 100% of the anthropogenic carbon emissions."

When we grow food that supports and nourishes nature, it nourishes our bodies too. If we care about our own health, we have to care about the health of the entire planet and all of its creatures, even the soil full of life we cannot see.


About the Author

Cattie Khoury is the Founder of Toodaloo Superfoods. She earned her degree in Sustainability Studies at the University of Texas at Austin and is certified in Plant Based Nutrition. Join the healing movement @toodaloosuperfoods.

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