Healthier soils grow healthier foods, and agricultural practices that bypass synthetic fertilizers and pesticides may produce food with the broadest array of nutrients — not to mention the absence of potential pesticide residues.
A 2014 paper published in the British Journal of Nutrition analyzed 343 peer-reviewed publications comparing nutritional values of organic and conventional fruits, vegetables and grains. What it concluded is compelling, especially regarding micronutrients: “Most importantly, the concentrations of a range of antioxidants [compounds linked to reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers] were found to be substantially higher in organic crops/crop-based foods,” reads the report.
Indeed, it states, “a switch from conventional to organic crop consumption would result in a 20 to 40 percent (and for some compounds more than 60 percent) increase in crop-based antioxidant levels” without an increase in calories.
What you can do
✦ Buy organic. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reports that practices central to organic agriculture also improve soil formation and structure and reduce soil erosion. Also, a 1987 study published in Nature identified that “organically- farmed soil had significantly higher organic matter content, thicker topsoil depth … and less soil erosion than the conventionally farmed soil.”
✦ Buy better beef (and bison). Conventional meat production is a climate change travesty, when you consider the monocropped conventional feed shipped hundreds of miles to the cattle, who turn it into methane as they struggle to digest it. Buying grass-fed beef breaks that cycle. Better still, research your meat supplier: Look not just for “rotational grazing,” but also for mention of holistic management and carbon sequestration.
✦ Support companies like Epic Bar that get behind the Savory Institute’s holistic management. Or support Savory Institute directly. Also, be on the lookout for Savory’s “Land to Market” certification, identifying companies that regenerate soil as they grow.
✦ Get complicated. The American diet is increasingly one of corn and soy—two giant monocrops that strip away topsoil. Seek, cook and eat other grains and legumes, and when you do buy corn- and soy-based products, make sure they’re organic or non-GMO.
✦ Grow small. Decrease your dependency on giant agribusiness by growing your own food or supporting small local producers.
✦ Get demanding. Ask the food companies you support what they’re doing about climate change, from regenerative agriculture to renewable energy to food waste. To learn more about regenerative agriculture, download our free guide created in partnership with Organic India.