Moyer argues for regenerative over sustainable farming methods

By Samantha Greenfield, Contributing Writer ||

The Rodale Institute is a nonprofit organization dedicated to spreading awareness about organic farming and research. Jeff Moyer is a farm manager at the Rodale Institute, which is located less than an hour away from F&M’s campus. He spoke at this week’s Common Hour and encouraged the attendees to consider the source of the foods they eat.

Moyer emphasizesd that, to most people, food production seems so mundane; however, he illuminates the huge impacts that food production has on our environment and our world.

The problem that Moyer points out is that farmers tend not to look beyond short-term yields, meaning that their motive is profit and efficiency. This way of farming the land leads farmers to farm one kind of crop on a plot of soil and use pesticides to kill unwanted weeds and pests. Conventional farming methods such as these ruin the soil.

Moyer showed a photo of American farmland. The farms were brown, which Moyer explained to the audience means they are overworked and essentially dead. Conventional farming techniques that put non-organic food into supermarkets are ruining the soil — not only for current use but also for these farmers’ children and grandchildren. The issue is farmers are not taking care of their soil.

Moyer explained that soil, biologically, wants to be covered with green. When only one crop is planted, weeds grow up to fill the space that is not covered. To remove those weeds, pesticides and other harmful chemicals are sprayed. These chemicals damage the health of the soil and our bodies. Instead, what we should be doing is allowing soil to be covered in different types of plants to give it nutrients. Just like a human body, the soil needs more than one type of nutrient. If only one crop is planted, the soil is being deprived of other nutrients.

We need to think beyond sustainable, Moyer argues, and instead incorporate the word “regenerative” into our vocabulary.

Conventional systems use factories, machines, and chemicals that get worn out and need to be replaced. So long as people keep up with replacing these systems, they can be sustained; however, a much better option would be to regenerate. Soil, if treated correctly, can be regenerative. Adding more varieties of plants keeps soil fertile. Organic farming does this.

People, as consumers, need to keep in mind how the production of food is benefiting or harming the environment.

Senior Samantha Greenfield is a contributing writer. Her email is sgreenfield@fandm.edu.

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