Letter to the Editor | How can we sustainably feed the world’s population?

The answer is to turn to regenerative farming. Perhaps you have not heard of regenerative farming. Most of the farming done today, particularly in the United States, is conventional farming/factory farming. Government incentives and our current industrial food complex result in the growing of monocrops (soybean, corn, wheat, etc.) and to a lesser extent the fruits and vegetables you buy at the store. These crops often require mechanical tilling and harvesting using non-renewable resources to power the machinery, fertilization, herbicides, pesticides and often irrigation. They leave the soil devoid of nutrients and life and lead to soil erosion and chemical run off, poisoning our lakes, rivers and oceans. The bulk of these monocrops are then used to feed livestock; livestock that did not evolve to eat grains. This results in the massive use of antibiotics and less healthy animals and meats. The rest are turned into processed foods or fuels.

There is a better way. Let’s consider using the land in harmony with the way it evolved to sustain life. While only 4% of the world’s surface is suitable for growing monocrops, 12% is suitable for grazing. Raising animals eating naturally occurring grasses and vegetation requires no tilling, artificial fertilizer, herbicides, pesticides and usually no irrigation. First, the sun provides energy to grow grasses and vegetation. Second, large ruminants eat the grasses, and in turn, fertilize the grasses. Ruminants are animals with a four-chambered stomach capable of turning plants into energy and proteins. Common ruminants include cattle, sheep, goats, buffalo, deer and moose. These ruminants, cattle for example, are rotated between pastures once a pasture has been grazed 10-20%, much as buffalo once grazed our prairies. Other animals including pigs, chickens, geese and ducks are then moved into the pasture where they eat plants, insects and indigenous wildlife. These animals further fertilize and aerate the soil, creating healthy living and nutrient-rich soil. Finally, after a short rest, the pasture is ready to repeat the cycle.

Regenerative farming is clearly good for the environment. It creates healthy soil instead of depleting it. It requires little or no extra energy or water inputs. It also reduces global warming in two ways. First, it sequesters carbon in the soil instead of releasing it. Second, cows eating grass as nature intended don’t produce the prodigious amounts of methane gas caused by grain consumption. So, it is good for the environment.

Our bodies simply have not evolved to eat the refined carbohydrates and sugars that the food industry derives from monocrops. Eating foods derived from industrial farming practices contributes to a variety of diseases with metabolic or nutritionally related causes including type 2 diabetes, heart attacks, obesity, fatty liver, high blood pressure, some cancers, Alzheimer’s, some mental disorders, and autoimmune diseases. There is strong scientific evidence that some of these diseases can be prevented or even reversed by eating a proper healthy human diet.

Ken Hofbauer, Peoria, & Sarah Hofbauer DeShane, Franklinton, N.C.

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