It is time.
We need a new paradigm for how to live, do business, and educate our children. It is time to ditch tired — and really useless — concepts like “sustainability.” The very foundations of “social business” as we know them are frail and no longer enough. Paying lip-service to compassion, giving, and another disempowering concept like “empowerment” is an insult to humanity. So are CSR arms of businesses.
I liken this to walking through life with an oxygen tank, an IV drip, and an open-back hospital gurney, butt cheeks flailing in the dust storm of extinction.
Burying our head in the depleted, dead soil we call sand is not an option if we want to ensure a healthy, viable planet for our grandchildren. [Yes, we are talking a few decades.]
When science and spirituality meet, I pay attention. I urge you to as well. One of the most [third] eye-opening definitions of “grace” from a scientific perspective came from Zach Bush, M.D.: when you heal faster than you injure. It could be as simple as a pause that allows nature to do its work of regeneration and creation.
(That includes us. We are of nature too. We pause injury, we heal. Grace at its most divine.)
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced most governments to examine decades of auto-pilot practices and policies from food systems to public health. At the heart of the brutal awakening has been our sovereignty — both as humanity and nation states. The map lines dividing us have spectacularly blurred, by a non-living microorganism of all things, baring the truth of our interconnectedness and interdependence.
Our health is not independent. It is inter-dependent. Human life is intrinsically connected to the massive ecosystem of life on earth. It is the invisible biology on earth in fact that is the marker of health on the planet. That includes the microorganisms that live in the soil. (That also includes the non-living virus we are trying to kill!) Biodiversity is crucial to the earth and to the human microbiome that is crucial to our gut, immune, and brain health. Any disruption to the biodiversity in the soil has a direct impact on our own internal ecosystem and health.
Every 20 minutes, we lose a species to extinction.
No wonder we are panicking. We should be.
Turns out the concept of “sovereignty” itself requires rethinking.
Can we be sovereign — and interdependent? Can we be sovereign and honour our connection to the Earth? I believe we can, for the essence of sovereignty is that connection as we are being shown.
Take the hot topic of food sovereignty for example. The sixth — and I would argue the most important — pillar of food sovereignty in The Six Pillars of Food Sovereignty states clearly that sovereign governments work with nature by maximizing the contributions of ecosystems, improving resilience, and rejecting energy-intensive, monocultural, industrialized, and destructive production methods.
Why is it then that every effort is made to do the exact opposite of this, obsessing over policies to innovate ourselves into a deep chemical hole of energy-intensive, destructive, life-depleting scenarios?
Instead of shifting focus to regeneration and investment in life, most governments are dedicated to “innovating” their way out of the loss of life their very practices and policies are inflicting upon nature.
Hydroponic farming is one such innovation making a strong debut today on the agricultural innovation [virtual] stage. It may be dressed in haute couture, but those bare cheeks are there for all to see. It cancels the soil and the sun, turning to artificial manufacturing and intensive non-renewable energy inputs fattening a few pockets to manage and control the ever-rising mountains of problems and side-effects of our practices to deplete nature’s renewable, “graceful” ecosystem of creation and regeneration.
Hydroponic farming is soil-less agriculture, not sustainable, input-driven, technology-dependent, and profiting a few for the detriment of planet and human health.
Advocates for hydroponics argue it is cheaper to feed plants bottled fertilizer. This is hard to believe considering the initial set-up cost is high and not feasible for small farmers unless it is done on a large scale. Add to that the fact that the inputs for hydroponic farming are all non-renewable. Set-up costs are almost always hidden. It seems like a ploy to sell hydroponic equipment.
Another popular claim by hydroponic advocates is that the soil is contaminated. The question to ask is who contaminated the soil, how, and why. The common-sense solution that puts biology at the centre of life would be to clean the soil with regenerative agriculture. Not to cancel it.
Of course, the claim that hydroponic farming is cleaner should clearly be held against it. A sterile environment is the antithesis of health. Humans have more microbial than human cells in their ecosystem. It is these microbes in fact that run the “health” show in our bodies. For optimal health, the focus should be on the thriving and health of this microbial environment both within our bodies and in the soil.
Hydroponic farming does not solve hunger, despite the industry’s claims. This is right out of the GMO and Monsanto — God rest its soul-less brand in peace — playbook. We have seen over and over the futility of this argument. 70% of the world’s population is in fact fed by small, family farmers.
Water scarcity is a symptom of depleted soil. Hydroponic farming likes to convince us that it uses less water. Healthy soil absorbs, retains, and replenishes natural aquifers. The problem of water scarcity is a direct result of the depletion of soil, the loss of topsoil — and the resulting global warming. There is no root structure to hold the soil together and allow the rain to get in. The issue is not lack of water, but rather improper use of rainwater and regeneration of aquifers as a result of soil degradation.
Proper nourishment of humans only results from the proper nourishment of the soil. Proper nourishment of the soil guarantees life. It also happens to be the key piece of the global warming solution puzzle that draws down greenhouse gases because we have already gone through triage. We are in the Intensive Care Unit. Even the pause is not enough. We need resuscitation to activate healing.
The resilience and sustainability of our food supply and protection from climate change depend on the soil. The environmental benefits of soil go beyond simply growing plants. Unploughed soil with 3% and above organic matter is the best, most viable source of nourishment and cleanser of rainwater and air, sequestering CO2 and nitrous oxide, turning them into hydrocarbons to feed the roots. This is nature’s free, renewable recycling apparatus.
It is the height of arrogance to bet on human technology, industry, and a few corporations to supply artificial life. [Cut to scene of oxygen mask and IV drip.] History clearly demonstrates we can never outsmart nature. [End scene.]
We need Grace.
Unfortunately, the haste to publish strategies to appease public demand appears to have cornered governments like Jordan to apply a copy/paste formula mirroring the dictates of powerful corporations whose myopic vision is centred on short-term profit while ensuring developing countries continue to depend on them to supply non-renewable inputs for farming to guarantee long-term dependence and profit, ignoring locality (environment/climate and the health of the soil), viability, and most importantly respect for and co-existence with nature.
In other words, Grace.
The current farming system is broken. Much like all our systems. The solution is to focus on a regenerative, co-creative process of working with nature on an ecosystem of harmony to build a thriving environment that naturally favours life and health for all.
For all our systems.
“In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.” — The Iroquois Great Law of Peace
Sadly, our farming policies and practices, particularly over the last 4 decades, have been very short-sighted and focused on the immediate gain without consideration of their impact on climate and the long-term viability of the planet. We have pushed the problem down the line, praying for some [divine when it suits us] miracle or advancement in science and technology that can address the depletion and life-ending impact of our greed. It has not happened. And it does not look like it will.
All we need is soil organic matter created and renewed by soil biological activity for a successful, healthy, clean, and natural food production. And life force.
Regenerate the soil, and we regenerate life.
We are of nature. Our purpose is to work within and with — not against — nature. The ecosystem recovers much faster without our interference. In a single growing season of rest (18 months), we can stop the damage and life will regenerate without any input from us.
Life begets life. The regenerative process works in alignment with the life-giving cycle of nature. Microbes are essential to regenerating the planet. It is in the soil we are so eager to cancel where they create nutrients that feed the roots that feed the plants that feed the animals, and ultimately humans.
It is a simple, genius system that is governed by Grace.
Can we imagine a world governed by Grace? A life focused on healing? Can we re-imagine business, education, health, and social good whereby in as little as 18 months we can operate on a single pillar of healing and investing in life — in all its forms?
Can we start talking about regeneration? For our children?