How Soil Health is Climate Health

By Bethany Davis

How Soil Health is Climate Health

How Soil Health is Climate Health

Bethany Davis, Director of Social Impact and Advisory | April 2022

“We have about 60 harvests left”

About 7 years ago we went on a trip to an eco-farm in Costa Rica. We went for a tour of the farm with Tom Newmark — founder and chair of Carbon Underground—a nonprofit dedicated to restoring soil health and helping to address climate issues. We walked through the jungle and he showed me tons of trees and food that had been planted along the small pathway that we had been following. He explained biodynamic farming strategies and highlighted how strategically they had used agroforestry to protect the soil.

“We have about 60 harvests left until we have dessertified the majority of the topsoil on planet earth and will no longer be able to grow food” he said to me. It stopped me in my tracks. I felt my stomach sink. (Don’t worry, I promise the hopeful part is coming, just hang in there). “What are you talking about?” I replied with disbelief in my voice.

He soberly explained how the industrial, monoculture-focused, chemical-heavystyle of agriculture that we largely use globally is damaging to soil, and it releases carbon into the atmosphere that is supposed to be underground, keeping our soil healthy. That if we don’t change our ways, we will continue to release carbon from the soil into the atmosphere making climate change worse.

The World Health Food and Agriculture Organization had confirmed in a recent talk that they estimate topsoil desertification had on average about 60 years before we will turn most of our soil globally into nothing more than dirt. I think he could see me starting to panic. I thought of my children, who I certainly hope live longer than 60 years and ideally I want there to be food available for them to eat.

“Tom, what are we going to do?”

There is Hope Through Regenerative Agriculture

Here is the hopeful part. He explained the concept of regenerative agriculture. A style of agriculture that is focused on the health of the soil and drawing down carbon. Climate-smart agriculture.

It minimizes the need for chemicals like fertilizers and herbicides and pesticides which can damage the microbial and fungal balance in the soil. It focuses on low or no-till tactics which essentially means keeping the soil safe by not tearing it up for planting, harvesting or preventing weeds. It creates soil that works like a sponge so it can hold water to draw from during droughts and suck up all the extra water when it floods. And best of all, it draws down MASSIVE amounts of carbon.

Regenerative agriculture is a win-for all solution. It creates more nutrient-dense food, ensures a stable food supply, makes farming less risky for farmers and has the potential to REVERSE climate change if adopted at scale!

Tom’s farm now exists as a learning center and fully functional regenerative farm for farmers, brands and retailers alike. And the regenerative movement, although still emergent, is in full swing with determined hopefuls spreading the word all over the world.

Agroforestry, crop rotations and cover crops, rotational animal grazing and composting are all regenerative strategies that protect and build the soil, drawing down carbon back into the soil where it belongs and resulting in more nutritious food.

MegaFood on a Soil Health Mission

Needless to say, MegaFood started orienting itself around how to support this emerging Regenerative movement. Now, seven years later, restoring the health of the soil is our reason for being and it’s my sole job focus.

Since we have been founding members of the Soil Carbon Initiative, we are in our fourth year of the Healthy Farm Standard Program where we incentivize regenerative practices in our supply chain.

We also formed a partnership with Chico State Center for Regenerative Agriculture and Resilient Systems and Tim LaSalle, who runs the center and has become my mentor along with Tom. Tim is a soil scientist who is executing large-scale studies to prove how effective Regenerative Agriculture is for drawing down massive amounts of carbon. The science keeps rolling in. Regenerative ag results in more nutrient-dense food too!

At MegaFood it’s our strong desire to bring forth a world where everyone is truly nourished. We are hopeful. We are determined. With every new study pointing to more potential, hope gets to ride alongside science. So join us in supporting this movement! And our hopeful vision of a world where everyone is truly nourished!



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