Is Regenerative agriculture the only way forward?

Regenerative agriculture is a rehabilitation approach to farming. This might sound very foreign and distant, but modern agriculture is in deep shtook and it’s affecting all of us. 

The root of the problem lies in the soil (yes, another pun). About one-third of the world’s topsoil is acutely degraded. According to the United Nations, if current practices continue, a complete degradation will hit us within the next 60 years. How did it get so bad you ask? Well, we only have ourselves to blame. 

Source: Local Futures

GREED IS NOT SUSTAINABLE 

Synthetic fertilizer, pesticide and fungicide… these are things our ancestors invented to yield more crops. Think of them as steroids and antibiotics, and the soil as our body. When your body is greeted with drugs everyday and becomes reliant on them, it loses its ability to adapt and fight off any illnesses. In this case, these chemicals constrain the nutrient level and resilience of our soil, impacting the quality and quantity of crops. 

IT’S SO(IL) SIMPLE

Soil births our crops and it’s home to microorganisms like bacteria, fungi and nematodes that are crucial to protecting the plants from insects and diseases. A humble 1% increase in organic matters not only improves the health of the crops, but also boosts the soil’s water holding capacity by 20,000 gallons per acre. A bigger capacity means stronger resilience in plants and therefore a better chance of them surviving droughts and floods. Net net, healthier soil means more and better crops to feed the world.

Source: Kiss the Ground

BUT WAIT, ISN’T SOIL BASICALLY DIRT?

Remember learning about photosynthesis in primary school? That’s when plants breathe in carbon dioxide and let out oxygen. Have you ever wondered what sends nutrients to grow these hero leaves and stems? Soil. And what takes the carbon and turns it into fuel for microbes? Also soil.

Let’s not forget about the most effortless contribution of soil – reducing greenhouse gases. By simply existing and with a cost of zero, soil can sequester and store carbon for up to one thousand years. Until, of course, some farmer ploughs through it with a heartless machine and releases it right back into the atmosphere. 

Source: Cool Farm Tool

THE FUTURE IS HOPEFUL

Regenerative agriculture introduces techniques such as drilling seeds into the soil instead of ploughing); moving cattle around to avoid overgrazing; rotating crops with livestock grazing; and here’s our favourite from our documentary of the month “Kiss the Ground” – keeping poop in the loop (maximising compost). All these practices are designed to inject life back into the soil and reverse the damage we’ve done. 

While no one is expecting us to put on our farmer boots and work the soil, acknowledging the issue, spreading the word and making small donations are solid ways to show our support. 

Donation Recommendations:

The Steaks Are High this CNY

The Year of the Ox is upon us, and we have a rare opportunity to reflect upon something timely: steak. Who doesn’t love a million juicy steaks? Regrettably, the environment. 

The cattle industry is one of the major contributors to greenhouse gases worldwide. Each year, a single cow can also belch 220 pounds of methane. Cattle production also has a large water footprint: it takes around 50 bathtubs of water to produce just one factory farmed steak, yikes! 

The amount of water used for factory farmed meat production in just 35 hours could provide drinking water for everyone on earth for a whole year. Moreover, the conversion of wild land for beef is a leading cause of deforestation in many tropical regions and, by extension, the destruction of habitat and wildlife extinction. 

If the world is to meet its target of limiting global warming, some degree of shift in our beef consumption or awareness is necessary.


But I don’t want to be vegan 

Now, we understand that not everyone can give up beef, we believe meat can contribute to a healthy diet and therefore vegetarian or veganism might not always be the best option. We are not advocating for anyone to completely give up their beloved steak. Rather we hope that you’ll journey with us in becoming a more conscious beef consumer, especially during this symbolic Year of the Ox.


Check out some of our tips to help you:

  1. One day a week, cut the meat!

Consider #MeatlessMonday, which is a global movement that encourages people to not eat meat on Monday to improve their health, and the health of the planet. 

  1. Make beef your side bae.

For those of who do not suffer from any nutritional deficiencies, make meat your side dish, and choose more meat and non-meat combos. Remember there are alternate sources that pack more iron than beef: oysters, white beans, tofu, and chia seeds. 

  1. Less burgers, more bacon. 

We cut down a lot of forests to harvest animals, but beef, far more than pork or chicken, requires much more land, contributing to greater environmental harm. 

  1. The Lab is Fab.

Get excited about the booming lab-grown, cultured meat industry. Together, scientists and entrepreneurs have begun to master both the taste and the feel of meat. Even Michelin-starred restaurants have started featuring lab-grown meat on their menus. 

  1. Less dairy, less bloating. 

To reduce our reliance on cows, we also should try to limit our dairy consumption. Thankfully, dairy-free alternatives like oat milk, soy milk, and rice milk are delicious and readily available at most supermarkets. Fun fact: Asians are more likely to be lactose intolerant, and they also have longer life expectancies. This reinforces the fact that milk may not be the complete health food we are led to believe. 

  1. Choose pasture-raised, grass-fed beef. 

Mass produced beef on factory-farms is manifold worse in terms of polluting our air, land, and water streams. Some of the largest meat processing companies produce more carbon emissions than fossil fuel giants like Shell or BP. Alternatively, pasture-raised cows who graze outdoors correspond with much more sustainable farming operations. Moreover, these cows tend to live in more natural, ethical conditions, grazing freely, rather than live their lives cramped in cages.  

  1. Turn on your TV.

Continue educating yourself by watching gripping movies that explore the hidden secrets of the meat industry. Our favorite Netflix docos include Cowspiracy, Kiss the Earth, and Vegucated. Check out a great YouTube option here

  1. Spread the message! 

A little less meat today may not seem like a significant contribution, but more conscious meat choices over time will do wonders for the environment (and your health)! Committing to #MeatlessMonday with your family and friends can bring about fun and creative opportunities to make some new, meatless family recipes together. Let’s get creative!


Share your conscious hacks on Instagram and tag us @8Shadesofficial and #findyourgreen.