How Regenerative Agriculture Can Fix Our Health, Our Food System, And Our Planet

It can be easy to forget where our food really comes from. The overflowing shelves in the supermarket may trick you into thinking food just appears. The reality is that strong healthy soils are the foundation for food production, and without them, we can’t survive. That’s why we need to shift our agricultural focus from growing commodity mono-crops like soy, corn, and wheat into a diversified system that encourages soil health, biodiversity, and sustainability for future generations. This is what regenerative agriculture is all about. On this episode of The Doctor’s Farmacy, I was so happy to sit down and talk with Gabe Brown, one of the pioneers of the current soil health movement which focuses on the regeneration of our resources. Gabe and his family own and operate Brown's Ranch, a diversified 5,000-acre farm and ranch near Bismarck, North Dakota. The Browns holistically integrate their grazing and no-till cropping systems, which include a wide variety of cash crops, multi-species cover crops, and grass-finished beef and lamb. They also raise pastured laying hens, broilers, and swine. This diversity and integration has regenerated the natural resources on the ranch without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and fungicides. Gabe and Brown's Ranch have received many forms of recognition for their work, including a Growing Green Award from the Natural Resource Defense Council, an Environmental Stewardship Award from the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, and a Zero-Till Producer of the Year Award, to name a few. Regenerative agriculture is a topic I’m super passionate about, and one of the key topics in my last book Food Fix, so I was really excited to hear about Gabe’s farming and ranching practices. He’s been “regenerative” before it was even a term. We talk about how most of today’s farms are massive mono-crop operations that are paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for chemicals, but if they diversified their crops and harnessed the atmosphere’s natural resources like nitrogen, they could produce better food, maintain healthier soils, and even make more money. We often hear arguments against regenerative agriculture and grazing animals—that it’s not scalable and that all livestock contribute to climate change. Gabe walks us through the truths to these myths and the principles that holistically managed farms and ranches can use to thrive. Avoiding tilling and minimizing other mechanical interventions, planting a diverse variety of crops and cover crops, and working in alignment with nature’s own cycles (like when to calve and plant) are just some of the practices Gabe explains. Our food supply depends on the state of our soils, and this urgency is even starting to get the attention of Big Food companies like General Mills. While their interest in pursuing sustainable agricultural methods is based on business and economics, large-scale changes like this will have big payoffs for our environment, climate, and health as well. Gabe is such an incredible wealth of knowledge when it comes to conscious food production, it’s easy to see why people flock to his farm from all over the world to learn about his operation. I hope you’ll tune in to gain some insight and hope for the future of our food system. This episode is brought to you by ButcherBox and the Pegan Shake. For a limited time, new subscribers to ButcherBox will receive 2 lbs of 100% grass-fed, grass finished beef free in every box for the life of your subscription. To this limited time offer, go to ButcherBox.com/farmacy. The Pegan Shake features a combination of collagen, pumpkin, and pea protein with healthy fats from my two favorites: MCT oil which is great for fat burning and brain power as well as avocado oil. I’ve also included acacia fiber to help with gut motility and digestion. Check it out at getfarmacy.com/peganshake.
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