Meet Precious Phiri who spends her days teaching farmers in Zimbabwe how to mitigate climate change.
Specifically, she instructs them in holistic land management, a method that rejuvenates depleted water and degraded soil while drawing climate-changing C02 out of the atmosphere.
Originally trained by the Savory Institute, the enthusiastic Ms. Phiri explains that a cornerstone of holistic management is that eco-systems without animals create ecological imbalance. Grasslands, for example, deteriorate when the food chain that keeps them alive is disturbed. Deprived of a symbiotic relationship with ruminants, grass dies and then soil dies. And, in the process, climate-disrupting carbon discharges into the atmosphere.
It’s simple but not obvious: Ecosystems need both fauna and flora to thrive. Think of the oceans without whales or Yellowstone National Park without wolves. It’s the great web of life.
The phenomenon, sometimes described as a “trophic cascade,” is a biological process that flows between every part of the food chain.
Here Precious explains it:
Here’s another obvious but often-overlooked fact: Healthy humans come from healthy food that originates in healthy soil. And there is no way to support this synergy between our health and the biosphere in an industrial food system: Big Ag and Big Food disrupts precious water cycles, destroys biodiversity, pummels the biosphere with toxic pesticides, and imprisons innocent animals that should be on the land. This isn’t mere sentiment; it’s actually climate science.
In a regenerative world, it’s OK to eat meat, but if you’re going to do so, it’s imperative to transition to organic, grass-fed and free-range–and not in the quantities Big Ag and Big Food would have you do. Any other way and we are contributing to global warming, impacting our health and, by the way, engaging significantly in animal cruelty. Of course it’s more than OK to be vegan or vegetarian but, ecologically speaking, there is also an argument for conscious meat eating.
Vandana Shiva is vegetarian and also a founding member of Regeneration International, an organization that promotes and researches this stuff. Here’s a clip of her talking about the animals at her Navdanya farm.
And here are some books to read if you’d like to know more:
It’s a whole new world of hope for the environment, the climate and our own health. Perhaps the most hopeful story ever that too few people have heard.
P.S: About progress on our film about Dr. Shiva’s life story: We’ve just completed laying in additional dialogue, now we’re working on music and B-Roll. Onwards we go!
Thank you to the hundreds of people from all over the world that completed our survey. In fact we are still receiving responses; if you are interested, join our “advisory team” and complete it here.
We asked you what was your top concern, and you told us: Access to Healthy Food.
That said, as one respondent noted in her comment: “Everything here is connected–and urgent.” That thinking is clearly reflected in the results.
Following Access to Healthy Food (79%), you prioritized:
Pesticides, Herbicides and other Toxins in our Food (78%)
Environmental Degradation and Pollution (78%)
Climate Change (73%)
Loss of Biodiversity (73%)
Corporate Influence over Government Food Policies (73%)
Hunger and Poverty (71%)
Displacement of Farmers and Land Grabs (71%)
Unfair Trade Deals (60%)
Unfair Trade Deals (60%)
Here’s a short video clip we just put together of Dr. Shiva addressing the issue of interconnectedness…and quantum theory!
We received hundreds of comments on the survey. Most mentioned the difficulty of ranking any one problem over another and many were understandably despairing of the status quo. A few respondents stood firm that industrial agriculture and GMOs were the solution to the issues we listed; in fact one suggested we “start embracing biotechnology and leave outdated, environmentally unsound organic practices behind.”
Here is a short selection of other thoughts from different participants.
“I am Native American and a sustainability scientist. I believe if you explain more about colonization, economic imperialism and unethical for-profit science, more people will fight to stop those influences.”
“I would bring up the loss of tradition, knowledge and cultural/social diversity as well as the loss of connection between land, seasons, people and food that is at the core of healthy food.”
“Hearing about solutions would be very high on my list of priorities. Knowing what’s being done and working makes me a better advocate and activist. And a more hopeful person.”
“It’s not going take old minds with new programs to change the direction our societal river is flowing–it’s going take new minds and an entirely new vision.”
“Time is running out. We must pull together and re-energize grassroots movements to overcome these perils.”
We agree. The enormously critical issue of food was ignored by both candidates in the U.S. presidential race, despite a bi-partisan poll that found that 53% of likely voters agreed that too many Americans can’t afford healthy food in their communities, 81% believe that food policy is focused on money over health, and 75% favor State support of sustainable farming.
The President Elect has no published food policy, is considering a Cabinet list that includes Big Ag executives to the Department of Agriculture and a Climate Change denier leading the Environmental Protection Agency.
Our only hope is the burgeoning food justice movement that does more than call foul on polluters, but also offers real solutions to the food crisis, the environmental crisis and the crisis of democracy all put together in a message of hope. Presidents and politicians will never save us; historically, only strong grassroots movements have ever brought about meaningful change.
So, onwards: Our next post will include video commentary on the issues raised in the survey.
By the way, we’d love to hear from you. Please send us your comments here and let us know what you think.