Written by Joni Garcia
Regenerative agriculture has a many benefits to the environment, but what about the nutrition of food crops?
What is Regenerative Agriculture?
In general, regenerative agriculture is a way of farming that focuses on restoring the soil to its natural ecosystem, which in turn, leaves the land in a better place for generations to come. Regenerative growers limit mechanical soil disturbance, helping to preserve the natural biology of the soil. Some common regenerative practices include reduced or no till, planting cover crops, increasing crop diversity, composting, and integrating animals with crops.
Why Regenerative Agriculture?
Regenerative agriculture practices are a win-win for plants, animals, the environment, and human health. When soil is not disturbed, and remains in its natural state, it’s full of bacteria, fungi and other microbes, which are what plants need to grow. Additionally, regenerative farmers use little to no synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or chemical fertilizers, resulting in food that is produced with little to no toxic chemicals, which reduces risk of chemical exposure to human health. Lastly, soil is a natural sink for carbon. When soil is left in its natural state, it’s able to draw down tons of carbon dioxide greenhouse gasses, helping to mitigate climate change.
How Does Regenerative Farming Affect the Nutrients in our Food?
Considering regenerative methods of farming provide more food/nutrients for plants, it’s no surprise that the plants themselves and other food grown and harvested using regenerative methods are higher in nutrients too.
A recent study published earlier this year put this theory to the test. The study found that compared to conventional practices and organic practices using mechanical tilling, crops produced using regenerative practices had higher levels of Vitamin K, Vitamin E, B vitamins, calcium, zinc, and total carotenoids, which are a group of powerful antioxidants. Additionally, animals raised using regenerative practices produced meat with higher levels of omega 3 fats compared to conventional methods. The researchers note that the results of this study are consistent with prior studies examining regenerative practices and nutrient values.
Where Can I Find Food Produced Using Regenerative Methods?
BCFA has been a longtime supporter of using regenerative methods in agriculture. Many of the farmers at our markets use this method of farming. Talk to your farmer and ask how they grow their food. That’s the best way to know what you’re eating!
You can also search our Local Food Map and filter by farming approach to find farms that utilize regenerative agriculture practices.