Freedom is Essential for Regenerating Healthy Food Systems

Regenerative Agriculture is a Promising Approach to Building Better Food Systems. 

Regenerative agriculture is rapidly becoming a buzzword that offers great promise for restoring soil and environmental health, while building farm profits and improving human health and nutrition.¬† What is not to love about the concept?¬† But is regenerative agriculture alone will not change our food systems.¬† ¬†Regenerative agriculture won’t sufficiently transform our environment, nor will it change the complex social and economic issues that contribute to food insecurity.

Food Systems are Built on Four Interdependent Cornerstones

When we began building End-O-Fite Enterprises LLC back in 2012, the term regenerative agriculture was not on our radar.  Nonetheless, primary concepts of regenerative agriculture were the core of our foundation.   We saw our mission as one of rebuilding food security by restoring endophytes (and other beneficial microbes) to our agricultural and environmental systems, and rebuilding our human microbiomes for better nutritional health.

We knew none of this could be achieved without also addressing the social factors that affect access to healthy food.   The more we explored these social factors, the more we realized they could all be summed up as problems stemming from lost personal freedom.   This is when we began envisioning food systems as being built on a foundation of four cornerstones:

  1. a clean environment
  2. healthy people
  3. regenerative agriculture
  4. equally distributed personal and economic freedom

In the years since 2012, the way we present these cornerstones has fluctuated.  This is not because our concept of what makes a food system has changed, but rather because our understanding of the complex social and political issues that are fundamental to creating such freedom  has expanded.  Initially, we labeled the fourth cornerstone diversity.   This is because we saw economic diversity, biodiversity, and cultural diversity as essential for creating the alignment between local food systems and local environments that is necessary for sustainability.  However, with time we realized that economic, cultural, and bio- diversity are each natural manifestations of a free society.  So where freedom is embraced sufficiently, food systems will be diverse, equitable, affordable, sustainable, and secure.

Meanwhile, the more that we have worked with people from communities in and beyond the Southwest, the more convinced we’ve become that the primary barriers to freedom come from government policies.¬† In particular, they come from policies that bind us all to rules that fail to meet the needs of varied, dynamic environments.

The COVID-19 Pandemic Highlighted the Necessity for Basic Freedoms. 

Then, 2020 arrived, bringing with it a global pandemic. COVID-19 threatened people from all walks of life.  But while the virus itself was devastating for many, others suffered due to draconian policies that distanced us from our loved ones, shut down thriving businesses, and accelerated the growth of financial disparities. While none would argue that there are situations that warrant social distancing and the use of personal protective equipment, the large scale enforcement of social distancing policies put many of our most vulnerable populations at risk of financial ruin,  Others suffered health consequences simply because COVID-19 policies have made basic health care inaccessible.

What was lost with this restrictive approach was the opportunity to build resilience against rapidly evolving variants of COVID-19.  Individuals who were testing promising nutritional remedies, herbal supplements, and emerging alternative medicine approaches did not receive the R & D funding that went to vaccine companies. Neither did those who were combatting the environmental issues that Harvard researchers linked to increased risk of COVID-19 complications.

Freedom is Essential for Adaptation to Environmental Threats 

COVID-19 policies are just one example of how restrictive policies, even those intended to help the public, actually prevent individuals from responding appropriately to environmental threats.¬† When we are free to pursue diverse and local solutions to problems, and the rate of¬† innovation accelerates.¬† This freedom actually promotes diversity.¬† Not just cultural diversity, but also biodiversity essential for environmental resilience.¬† Because diversity is the natural consequence of freedom, our updated illustration of food system cornerstones includes “Freedom,” where the original illustration called for “Diversity”.

Future articles will explore steps you can take, beyond showing up at the polls, to claim those basic freedoms that are vital for establishing healthy food systems.

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