We saw a new term circulating on Instagram earlier this week, Regenuary. A concept where, for the month of January, all foods consumed are not imported, are local, seasonal and the animals and land are farmed using regenerative agricultural practices.
Regenerative agriculture is a system of farming principles and practices that increases biodiversity, enriches soils, improves watersheds, and enhances ecosystem services. Regenerative Agriculture aims to capture carbon in soil and aboveground biomass, reversing current global trends of atmospheric accumulation.
In the UK, topsoil depletion is so severe that in 2014, the trade magazine ‘Farmers Weekly’ announced we may have only 100 harvests left. Unless dramatic action is taken to reverse the depletion in soil nutrients, we won’t even be able to grow soya or maize.
Not imported, local, seasonal food where the animals and land are farmed using regenerative agricultural practices.
January is widely-known for people practising Veganuary, a movement started by a UK non-profit organization that encourages people to go vegan for the first month of the year. Since the event began in 2014 participation has more than doubled each year.
Interest in 'veganism' increased sevenfold in the five years between 2014 and 2019 and the UK plant-based market was worth £443m in 2018. But calls for us all to switch entirely to plant-based foods ignore the potentially damaging impact of sowing fields and fields of soya and maize on the environment, and more specifically, the soil.
Isabella Tree’s article in The Guardian in 2018 takes a strong stance on the vegan diet’s impact on the environment through the lens of her 3,500-acre farm’s rewilding project in West Sussex. In the article, she explains the incredible environmental results they saw from implementing regenerative farming techniques, including “soil restoration, biodiversity, pollinating insects, water quality and flood mitigation – but it also guarantees healthy lives for the animals, and they, in turn, produce meat that is healthy for us.”
As we import avocados and soy-based 'meats' in an attempt to fill the gaps in a vegan diet, what impact are we actually having? Are we saving the planet? Avocado and soya have been blamed for intense deforestation, water pollution and health problems with local communities where it is farmed. We're not sold that this is the answer.
Our Regenerative Techniques
By grass-grazing our cows, we take an awful lot of carbon dioxide out of the air and put it back in the ground as organic matter, where it will make the soil richer and more productive. We also use a minimum-till cultivation method which aims to restore and build soil organic matter, which is essential to soil fertility.
There is no doubt that we should all be eating less meat and dairy - especially that produced with high-carbon, polluting, unethical, intensive practices - however, with all that we know, veganism is not the answer. This month, This month, we're supporting the new #Regenuary movement, encouraging our customers to opt for consciously-reared grass-fed meat in small quantities, with dairy produced from farms using regenerative practices. We will teach them that working the land, which we have been doing for centuries, is compulsory to save the land from dying and no longer being able to produce food for us.
We are not perfect at Quicke’s, but we are clear about where we’re heading. It’s where we all need to head if we want our planet to survive. Better farming can help grow a healthier, cleaner, more sustainable future for us all.