According to this article, Regenerative Agriculture as "Next Stage" of Civilization is ranked 7th on a list of 25 of the top censored news stories of 2018:
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Regenerative agriculture represents not only an alternative food production strategy, but a fundamental shift in our culture's relationship to nature, physical health and mental health.
Climate disruption, diminishing supplies of clean water, polluted air and soil, rising obesity, malnutrition and chronic disease, food insecurity, and food waste can all be traced back to modern food production. Regenerative agriculture is designed to address these problems from the ground up. The array of techniques that comprise regenerative agriculture rebuilds soils and sequesters carbon. Regenerative farming could potentially draw a critical mass of 200-250 billion tons of carbon from the earth's atmosphere over the next 25 years, mitigating or even reversing key aspects of global warming. Regenerative agricultural techniques allow carbon to be stored in soils and living plants, where it can increase food production and quality while reducing soil erosion and the damaging runoff of pesticides and fertilisers. Industrial farming systems effectively "mine" soils, decarbonising them and, in the process, destroying forests and releasing an estimated 44 to 57 percent of all climate-destabilising greenhouse gases… Read the whole article by Ronnie Cummins here.
The need for good agricultural land policy, as opposed to a national drought policy in Australia
Last month, the ABC’s Cathy Van Extel hosted a for RN Breakfast. The summary asked: “How can farmers drought proof their properties and how do you change traditional farming practices that have held up for generations to meet the changing climatic conditions?”
When Scott Morrison became Prime Minister in August 2018 the first thing he did was visit drought effected farmers in Queensland. That was followed up with extra money for drought relief, a drought summit and a commitment to pour $5 billion into a Drought Future Fund. The farm sector has been lobbying hard for a new national drought policy but drought relief is a fraught issue.
Former Governor General Michael Jeffrey, founder of Soils for Life and National Advocate for Soil Health was one of the three panelists. He has been advocating for 6 years to build resilience into the farm, build better paddocks, get the land back into good shape and install appropriate policy at a national level. Michael suggests that government fix the problems with an educational program that starts in the paddock, based on four principles or capacities. Integrate the water assets and the soil assets (which are microbial in nature). Increase plant diversity dramatically and adjust the stocking rate of animals according to feed available.
Michael says it is not so much about having a national drought policy. It’s about having good agricultural land policy so farmers can become more resilient to drought.
Many other countries have already put policies in place that recognise soil, soil microbes, plants and water as key strategic assets that have to be managed accordingly.
Healthy soil contains a vast amount of microbes. Soil microbes are also involved in both the nutrient-cycle, and the cycling of carbon from the air back into the soil. Regenerative agriculture has multiple benefits and works on many layers. Not only can it restore natural ecosystems and a functional climate, but it can also become the bedrock for growing more nutrient-rich food, and healthier animals and humans. Currently the Australian government seem to make efforts to circumvent the issue publicly and politically, which is frustrating for those who already clearly recognise and understand what is at stake…
Why nutritional treatment is the future of mental health and other disorders
Last year, Joyce Cavaye who is a Senior Lecturer in Health, Well-Being and Social Care, The Open University in the UK, wrote an eye-opening article about the shift in caring for the mental health and debilitating conditions of people differently. According to this article, she says a lack of essential nutrients is known to contribute to the onset of poor mental health in people suffering from anxiety and depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and ADHD. She writes:
“In developed countries such as the UK people eat a greater variety of foodstuffs than ever before – but it doesn’t follow that they are well nourished. In fact, many people do not eat enough nutrients that are essential for good brain health, opting for a diet of heavily processed food containing artificial additives and sugar.
The link between poor mental health and nutritional deficiencies has long been recognised by nutritionists working in the complementary health sector. However, psychiatrists are only now becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of using nutritional approaches to mental health, calling for their peers to support and research this new field of treatment.
It is now known that many mental health conditions are caused by inflammation in the brain which ultimately causes our brain cells to die. This inflammatory response starts in our gut and is associated with a lack of nutrients from our food such as magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, vitamins and minerals that are all essential for the optimum functioning of our bodies.
Recent research has shown that food supplements such as zinc, magnesium, omega 3, and vitamins B and D3 can help improve people’s mood, relieve anxiety and depression and improve the mental capacity of people with Alzheimer’s.
Magnesium is one of most important minerals for optimal health, yet many people are lacking in it. One study found that a daily magnesium citrate supplement led to a significant improvement in depression and anxiety, regardless of age, gender or severity of depression. Improvement did not continue when the supplement was stopped.
Omega-3 fatty acids are another nutrient that is critical for the development and function of the central nervous system – and a lack has been associated with low mood, cognitive decline and poor comprehension.
The role of probiotics – the beneficial live bacteria in your digestive system – in improving mental health has also been explored by psychiatrists and nutritionists, who found that taking them daily was associated with a significant reduction in depression and anxiety. Vitamin B complex and zinc are other supplements found to reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression."
Mental Health in Australia and a Victorian Royal Commission on Mental Health:
Taking responsibility for farming practices and mental health by rethinking the nutritional value of food
All of the elements Joyce Cavaye mentions in the quote above, are to varying degrees missing from our modern diets, because of modern farming practices.
These differences have been measured by scientists and the process of reversing this trend is fairly easy, and can also be quick if farmers work to set up the right set of soil microbes. Due to a large variety of industrial agriculture practices, plants, dairy and meat no longer contain all the naturally acquired minerals and trace elements they used to. Plants need soil microbes to help make minerals available to them. Australian Soil scientist Dr Christine Jones say that plants and their associated microbes make fertile topsoil - and a diversity of plants and microbes make it even better. She says that about 85 - 90% of nutrient acquisition is microbially mediated, which means nutrients have to come via the microbes. Many industrial agriculture practices (like monocropping and tilling) and agrochemicals (like some pesticides, herbicides or synthetic nitrogen fertilisers) disrupt or kill soil microbe structures.
Microbes within soil improve the ability of plants to absorb nutrients and resist drought, disease, and pests, according to research.
Feeding cattle a largely grain-based diet, as is done in feedlots, result in meat and dairy with an unhealthy, high ratio of omega 6 and 9 fatty acids. Feeding cattle high omega 3 foods like linseed, doesn’t necessarily solve the quality issue in a satisfactory way. Grass the perfect omega 3 rich food for cattle. Omega 3 fatty acids in a healthy ratio, as part of the human diet, is required for good brain health and mental function. Research from the Weston A. Price Foundation show that the foods produced from pasture-raised animals, farmed in the traditional sense without the use of agrochemicals, in pristine systems of nature, are abundant in essential minerals and vitamins
like A, D and K.
Many vegetables in Victoria, like tomatoes, are now grown in hydroponic farm glasshouses where CO2 is pumped through large bags directly underneath the plants, resulting in monstrous long vines carrying an abnormally large harvest. Scientists are very concerned because multiple studies show the high CO2 (carbon) in the atmosphere is making crops less nutritious. We're basically seeing increased quantity at the expense of quality. Scientists say that certain staple foods will be less nutritious in the future, potentially leaving millions of people less healthy or even with malnutrition. There may be a quick buck to be made, but this is not a sustainable food system. This farming method may grow a large crop, and a vast return on investment for investors, but eating these vegetables doesn’t seem to be a long term investment for the consumer’s health. It may also become a huge liability in the future for farmers who have made these farming investments, when consumers wake up to these realities.
Many studies show that commercial probiotic pills and yogurts are often inferior probiotics for multiple reasons. Many people don’t consume a large amount of diverse-species, beneficial microbes in the diet on a regular basis anymore, because they’ve become hard to obtain. Beneficial microbes that colonise in the gut would normally produce many B vitamins, serotonin and dopamine as the human host require them. However, these gut microbes are often killed off by antibiotics, antimicrobials, processed food and too much sugar that feed potentially harmful microflora. Dr Natasha Campbell McBride says that “good bacteria in our gut controls 500 different kinds of pathogenic (bad) microbes. If the good bacteria goes, the bad invariably takes advantage.”
People are coming to the realisation that our health is in crisis, because agriculture and established food systems in Australia are in crisis.
The push for Industrial agriculture has had an impact on the quality of our food, and our mental and physical health.
When we fail to understand how systems in nature come together, and operate together in a way that affects the whole, we are in trouble. Nutritional treatment in the form of food probably won’t be sufficient in all mental health cases, but it will help a great deal for most. Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently boosted mental health funding by $1.5b, but he and other politicians remain silent on the benefits of regenerative farming methods, and how they can influence positive change. The Royal Commission into Victoria’s mental health is also in progress. What are the chances of regenerative farming methods, and the real nutrient-dense food they produce, being discussed as solutions? The modus operandi here seems to be two-fold: how can politicians dance around real problems without identifying real solutions, and how can government structure the rules and regulations from top down in order to perpetuate the status quo. Money gets spent but problems are not matched with real working solutions, only band-aids over a gushing wound.
Joyce writes, that antidepressant use has more than doubled in recent years. In England 64.7m prescriptions were issued for antidepressants in 2016 at a cost of £266.6m. She shows that studies on the effectiveness of antidepressants are conflicting. Like antibiotics, antidepressants are also overprescribed and 29 clinical trials of antidepressant use in young people found no benefits at all. These trials revealed that instead of relieving symptoms of anxiety and depression, antidepressants caused children and young people to feel suicidal. British psychopharmacologist Professor David Healy, also challenges their safety and effectiveness in adults. He believes that antidepressants are over-prescribed and that there is little evidence that
they are safe for long-term use. Antidepressants are said to create dependency, have unpleasant side effects and cannot be relied upon to always relieve symptoms.
Joyce Cavaye considers the use of supplements as an alternative approach that has the potential to make a significant difference to the mental health of all age groups.
However, organisations like the Weston A. Price Foundation demonstrate that food grown in traditional, pasture-based farming systems, can provide what the body needs to remedy and avoid mental health and other debilitating disorders.
Reconsidering profit as primary motivator on planet Earth
There is clearly a need to remedy the poor decisions around farming practices. They need to be adjusted to nourish animals and humans. They need to be adjusted to mitigate the changing climatic conditions. Compare the benefits of industrial agriculture, that generate profit for big company shareholders and patients for the medical industry, to the situation it is currently developing for our children. At some point, those who make decisions and policies are going to be required to take responsibility, and fix dysfunctional systems that operate primarily in the name of profit. In addition, a Four Corners story showed that climate change poses a material risk to the entire financial system and that corporate boards and directors may be liable for failing to consider and disclose specific risks. Watch the replay here. Corporate entities also need to reconsider the true cost of taking fossil fuels from the earth, and the desertification as is in progress in drought-stricken parts of
Queensland and New South Wales, as natural cycles of rain fail to function due to mass deforestation. The disregard for plant, animal and human health, and the cycles in nature have to be re-evaluated.
The degradation of the ecosystem mirrors the degradation of society.
The current resistance to change may eventually result in total transformation on many levels; political, financial, social. The ignorance of the need for regenerative farming on national level, is potentially already testing many people’s adaptability in the face of their own ambition. People may already be questioning their sense of integrity, responsibility and accountability. Plans can change, even when it involves structures that have been in place for many decades. We don’t have to put off the inevitable. There has to be compassion, consideration and care for the wellbeing of this generation and the next.
Oxford Real Farming Conference 2019 on regenerative agriculture
“Let’s nurture the land with our children in mind.”
The annual Oxford Real Farming Conference held this year on the 3rd and 4th of January has just concluded in England. The event was sold out, as per usual. It was so popular that some of it was live streamed on YouTube and audio files of all the speakers are available. Watch the 2019 highlights video here. It shows how farmers are taking responsibility by implementing regenerative agriculture, and delivering desirable nutrient-rich food to their communities. These farmers enjoy support from politicians such as Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. In this video from the 2019 conference, farmer Richard Perkins explains how to make small farms not only work, but be profitable. He says regenerative farming restores nobility to farming, and lures the younger generation back to farming.
Two raw dairy farmers were also speakers. Patrick Holden, whose family farm produce raw milk cheese says the conference is a “disruptive force for change in the best possible sense.” Raw dairy farmer Christine Page considers herself a “soil farmer”. In this article she explains how cows become instruments, that help restore atmospheric carbon back into the soil, where it contributes to soil fertility and the production of nutrient-rich food. Listen to the recording of Christine’s session on The Rise of Milk Substitutes: How farmers can respond here.
Why is Regenerative Agriculture important for raw dairy production and food safety?
Detailed information in the 11 categories of the Risk Identification and Risk Reduction Program shows that many of the components of Regenerative Agriculture can increase the food safety of raw drinking milk and the health of the animals. The different components and techniques briefly listed below can make a worthy contribution:
An intense rotational grazing program allows the soil to rest properly and regenerate to knee-high growth which is considered optimal.
Cultivating a large plant species diversity, with the help of cover crops for grazing, grows a large biomass in the paddocks. A high diversity of plant species is more essential than most people realise.
Long grass is more resilient in dry periods and if there is more green plant species among grass species, it becomes a hydrated landscape that doesn’t burn easily in bushfire season.
Avoiding overgrazing of favourite plants with mob grazing that mimics ancestral herd movements. The risk of reducing plant species diversity is mitigated.
Paddocks can sanitise themselves when there is an three week+ animal absence. The biology in the soil deals with animal faeces in a constructive way. Animals don’t have to stand around in their own excrement and it doesn’t pose immune system challenges to the animals.
Moving animals around often means they are not around when larvae of parasites hatch.
Grazing animals can restore grassland ecosystems and natural cycles in nature, for example resulting in healthier water systems on the farm.
The different farming practices combined can result in increased nutrient-cycling between soil microbes and plants to deliver a nutrient-dense forage as feed, because mineral and trace element uptake is maximised.
Plants can grow deeper roots and access more nutrients.
Plants have more protection against diseases because they are surrounded by protective microbes like mycorrhizal fungi.
Microbe-rich compost tea applications can increase and correct beneficial microbe species diversity.
A larger ratio of diverse-species, beneficial microbes in different terrains on the farm increase the health and food safety of those terrains, which has a flow on effect on raw dairy food safety.
Sustainable farming practices reduces the likelihood of pathogens in the terrain and the raw milk.
Grasslands produce dairy high in protective, healthy omega 3 fatty acids and CLA that increase the health of the animals and their suitability to produce milk for the raw dairy market. We need the animals to produce disease-free milk, high in vital nutrients.
Forage, as opposed to higher-grain feeding, means increased health benefits for both animals and humans.
Soil scientists who frequently work with farmers report that cows produce more milk and higher quality milk when grazed on regenerating pasture. This means there is more milk to be shared between the calf and humans, which also has a flow on effect on the better long term health of the calves in raw dairy systems, because they are not being deprived of their need for mother’s milk.
When there is a larger biomass of forage, the farmer can 100% pasture-raise the animals, which is highly desirable for some consumers in the raw milk movement. The dairy farmer can charge a premium price for grain-free raw milk.
Farmers report that because animals are healthier, there is less need for a veterinarian and that they save money by eliminating expensive inputs. Farmer Gabe Brown, who have been grazing his cattle on regenerating pasture for more than a decade, tours North America 6 months out the year describing how the animals are considerably healthier, even to the point where they calve unassisted in the paddocks.
It’s important that farmers who want to produce for the raw dairy market realise that some industrial dairy practices and feed are not suitable for raw dairy production. There has to be a boundary between the two in order to achieve maximum food safety of raw dairy.
When animals are healthier, an antibiotic-free situation can be achieved on the farm, and this results in less pathogens and antibiotic-resistant microbes (superbugs) in the terrain.
Eliminating chemicals with antibiotic- and antimicrobial properties, like some herbicides, pesticides and inorganic nitrogen fertilisers means there are more beneficial microbes in terrains on the farm that counter pathogenic ones.
The fact that mainstream media and governments are ignoring an obvious solution to many problems is problematic on many levels.
Despite the fact that this concept is suppressed around the world, many grassroots organisations make this information available to farmers. In some circles it is considered common knowledge. It’s not really a secret. Some raw dairy farmers around the world have been producing for more than a decade and had plenty of time to develop experience and understanding around why the different components of regenerative agriculture is a win-win for the animals, the farmers and the consumers. Please note: there is two kinds of raw milk, one produced for human consumption, and other produced to be pasteurised, and not all regulated raw milk is equal.
The 11 categories of the Risk Identification and Risk Reduction Program contains the details around research, science, and personal experience from scientists and farmers that back up the information above. We would not produce a list like the one above, without being able to provide credible proof and back up for the claims made. That would be irresponsible.
The Milk Cure
Regenerative agriculture can restore many essential nutrients to the food animals and people eat. Food is medicine when it is produced in healthy soil. Raw dairy from regenerative farming practices may again become a form of deep nutrition. According to RealMilk.com, certified raw milk was considered “the milk cure” in the early 1900’s in California, when it was enjoyed by both adults and children for its therapeutic properties. The milk used was raw milk from pasture-fed cows, rich in butterfat. The treatment was a combination of detoxifying fast and nutrient-dense feeding. This protocol was an orthodox, accepted therapy at the time. Raw milk has never been illegal in California and is now regulated for quality control. Organic Pastures dairy in Fresno, who has a milking herd of 500, is celebrating their 20 year anniversary producing raw drinking milk this year. Raw dairy can be produced as a low-risk food when the right controls are applied, and it is regulated in a sensible manner.