Will and I have been giving this a lot of thought lately. As a species, humans have drastically changed their perspective on food because we no longer have to forage or hunt. The industrialization of food has allowed us to expand cities and populations, and progress at the fastest pace ever. Now, regenerative agriculture has been largely replaced by monoculture farms due to short-term profitability. However… We have to ask ourselves: have we gone too far?
The rise of genetically-modified and processed foods, and synthetic pesticides and hormones have changed the nature of our food. We are getting further away from our food while the industrialization of agriculture has depleted topsoil of nutrients, causing of food to have fewer vitamins and minerals.
The resources humans are demanding from the earth are putting an enormous amount of pressure on the agricultural ecosystems and it is causing innumerable health problems. We’re overeating, throwing away too much, and the quality and quantity of food are making us sick.
Nearly 100 million U.S. adults are obese, according to a 2016 study by the CDC. It also costs people a ton of money. “An estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the United States was $147 billion in 2008 US dollars.” Who can blame them? Sugar–now in almost every product for a reason–is eight times more additive than cocaine.
The time to shift our perspective on food is now. We have to look out for our children and figure out how we’re going to feed 10 billion people by 2050. To do our part, we’ve stepped back and changed the way we look at how we eat, and why we’re eating what we’re eating. We’re doing this for our health and the health of the planet.
UNDERSTANDING AGRICULTURE’S IMPACT AND POTENTIAL
Agriculture accounts for nine percent of greenhouse gas emissions, according to a 2017 EPA report. Crop and livestock production for food contribute to emissions in three primary ways.
Mismanagement of the soil can lead to increased emissions of nitrous oxide. Livestock produce methane when they go number two, and unfortunately, the way it’s dealt with can contribute to the methane emissions. Essentially, we need better waste management in that department. There are, of course, other contributors, but those are three primary causes.
Some agricultural scientists say we only have 60 years of healthy topsoil left if we don’t start switching to regenerative practices immediately. This should be very alarming to you. Food scarcity is already a problem, but many of us do not realize it because we have readily available tomatoes in the dead of winter at our local grocery store.
“With the use of cover crops, compost, crop rotation, and reduced tillage, we can sequester more carbon than is currently emitted, tipping the needle past 100% to reverse climate change,” according to the Rodale Institute.
A shift to regenerative agriculture farming practices is a powerful solution but it will be a slow transition and we’ll have to attack the problem from both angles. We’ll have to get back into balance with nature by changing our approach to farming and putting less stress on those ecosystems.
We have been eating organically-grown and produced foods since we met four years ago, and way before that. Fortunately, we both grew up eating that way because our moms knew what pesticides do to the body and the planet.
You can help stem the negative climate effects of agriculture by switching to regenerative agriculture farms that produce organically-grown foods and animal proteins for three primary reasons.
First, your body will not have to process synthetic pesticides and fertilizers that also pollute the planet. Did you know that pesticides were a result of finding a new way to sell and repurpose the surplus of chemicals used in warfare in the early 20th century? Yuck.
You will help farmers sequester more carbon from the atmosphere and create healthy topsoil because of their natural farming methods. Quality is much more important than quantity. The healthier the soil, the more carbon it can sequester, and the more nutrients we can extract from the produce.
Look for labels such as USDA Organic, Certified Fair Trade, Certified Humane, etc. will help you identify the leaders in sustainable production. Buying their products will help further their causes, even though it might be a little more expensive. Organically-produced food contains more vitamins and nutrients. This means you can consume less and spend less than you would to get the same nutritional content through non-organic products.
During the summer and fall months, we always prefer to buy from farmers markets. When eating out, we go to restaurants that say they source their products from local farmers. We can support the local economy this way and protect our health.
OVERCONSUMPTION IS TODAY’S NORM
Will grew up eating two breakfast burritos and a glass of milk every Sunday with his grandpa. He took that approach to most meals so he could “get big and grow strong” starting at a very early age.
He reached 230 pounds of muscle in college while training for hockey. He ate anything and everything to get big. He’s naturally muscular and puts on mass easily, but it wasn’t making him feel good. Having the mentality of eating like a bodybuilder would have in the 2000s, and learning their ways of eating through educational videos, led him to understand how bad that can be for you.
Will listened to his body after developing allergies to dairy products, gluten, and other key ingredients in protein cakes during those college years. He stopped eating those foods but knew something still wasn’t right. It wasn’t only what he was eating the quality of it, but the amount as well.
Luckily, Will is so in tune with his body and willing to do the necessary research, that over the next decade he would learn how to nourish the body (and mind) for strength and vitality. He was (and still is) the picture of a muscular man, but now we look to food for their nutritional value and have removed all processed foods, dairy, grains, etc. from our diet. We stick to healthy fats, proteins, and vegetables for the key vitamins and minerals they provide.
Dr. Berg, Dr. Mark Hyman, and Max Lugavere have been very educational resources for us among many others. Will has been researching, tracking, and trying different approaches to health for decades now. He is the most knowledgeable person I know in the macro field of health and fitness.
Be cognizant of your consumption and only eating what your body actually needs. You will save money, reduce the amount of waste you produce (i.e. throwing away a third of that California burrito), and most importantly feel better.
There are two reasons we aren’t discussing a specific diet in this post. First, diets have to be as unique as the bodies they are for. It’s important to try what makes you feel the best (in terms of sleep, cognitive function, physical performance, etc.). Second, this post would be way too long. If you’re still reading this I am so proud of you!