Regenerative agriculture is described by many as the next agricultural revolution, but what does it really mean? And how is it different from organic farming? In this article nests Organic Sweden out the concepts.
In many contexts where the food of the future is discussed, the term regenerative agriculture has become increasingly popular. And from the United States reported that large food companies have begun to invest in regenerative to improve soil health, promote biodiversity and create opportunities for carbon storage. In its annual trend scouting The American food chain Whole Foods highlights "regenerative agriculture" as one of the most important trends in 2020.
We who work to promote organic production and consumption in Sweden see it as extremely positive that issues such as soil health, biodiversity and climate can take up more and more space in the debate about the food of the future. On the other hand, what is often forgotten in the debate is that regenerative agriculture is based on the same four principles as organic farming.
Four principles for organic and regenerative agriculture:
- Health Preserve and improve the health of the soil, plants, animals and humans
- Ecology - Promote the use of local resources and the circulation of natural resources
- Justice - Promote a fair food system where the animals' need to e.g. go out is catered for
- caring - Care for current and future generations' health and environment
Regenerative agriculture is often described as something new, but the fact is that the term was coined as early as the 1980s by Robert Rodale, son of Jerome Irving Rodale, an American pioneer in organic farming. The term describes an agriculture that, with the help of ecological methods, preserves and builds up soil health. Parts of organic farming have thus advocated regenerative agriculture for over fifty years.
What is new in this context, however, is that the Rodal Institute - a research organization focusing on organic farming - launched the certification Regenerative Organic Agriculture 2018. The certification is based on the same standard as the American eco-certification USDA, but goes further in areas such as soil health, land use, animal welfare and working conditions. Only a few products in the US market are certified according to the new standard. According to the Rodale Institute, the purpose of the certification is to build on the ecological regulations - not compete with it.
As a consumer in Sweden, it is not yet possible to choose food that is certified regenerative. There are no regenerative carrots in the vegetable counter. However, there are organic and KRAV-marked - and if we want to push for more products that are produced according to basic regenerative principles to be consumed, it is organic and KRAV-marked we will highlight in Sweden. KRAV-marked also goes further than the European regulations for organic, including in animal welfare and climate. Read more here on the difference between EU organic and KRAV-marked.
Photo: Rodale Institute / Spring Creek Farms