Regenerative Agriculture: An Issue We All Need to Engage With
Now, in this week’s episode, we welcomed back Dr Christo Miliotis, and Chris I have known for many, many years. His background is in medicine. The programme is called Make the Problem the SOILution. Chris’s background in medicine, however, his passion is the planet.
It’s not just about human health, and he’s been focussed on through his professional career, but like myself, I think he really has come to realise and be very proactive about the fact that we all need to engage with our food sources about how our food is grown.
This is why any regular listener of this podcast will be very familiar with the themes of regenerative agriculture. If you’re interested in climate change, if you’re interested in your own health and that of your family and friends, if you’re interested in ensuring that we have quality, nutrient-dense foods for generations to come and we do that is not just to sustainable but a regenerative way, then you too should be engaged with this issue of regenerative agriculture and soil because ultimately it’s nutrient-dense foods that we need.
When we talk about nutrient-dense foods it means that we are well, we are bombarded, we are surrounded by seemingly cheap food. I’ve done about a year or so ago, a wonderful episode with Professor Paul Ehrlich obviously couldn’t resist the temptation of talking to Professor Ehrlich.
Professor Paul Ehrlich is a legend in Environmental Biological Sciences, and he wrote a landmark book in the 19th… It was around 1968 or 70, with his wife, Anne Ehrlich, and it was The Population Bomb, and he made the point that there would be insufficient food to feed the world.
The Green Revolution
When I asked him how he thought that prediction had gone, he felt that perhaps it was still too early to call because so what he hadn’t foreseen was The Green Revolution, which is a great term it makes you feel warm and fuzzy. The Green Revolution really fostered industrial agriculture, industrial animal agriculture.
For example, chickens in pens, in cages, in huge cage warehouses, and animals like pigs and cows in feedlots, none of which is their natural environment and a lot of which has attracted people’s attention about the ethics of animal agriculture.
As well as that there has been an explosion, literally an explosion of herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, roundup, Monsanto. We’ve done several programmes on that. That’s a theme that we’ll be pursuing in the new year again as well but these chemicals produce seemingly cheap food.
I say seemingly because this thing that has happened concurrent with The Green Revolution, which has provided us with these seemingly cheap foods, has been an epidemic in preventable chronic degenerative diseases. They include heart disease, cancers, and almost 100 autoimmune conditions that are the body attacking itself, diabetes, obesity all have gone through the roof, mental health, childhood obesity, type 2 diabetes – used to be referred to as late-onset diabetes.
But now, children as young as four or five are suffering from type 2 diabetes. This explosion of seemingly cheap food has come at a huge cost for health care. As well as the cost environment has been profound. And this whole idea of extractive economies is where we feel that we have a right to extract all that we want from the Earth.
Waste Product Pollution
The Earth is therefore we humans, we humans to take advantage of and plunder and there is a problem with that. We have a problem, and that problem is we have a waste products pollution. We’ve done a programme on plastics in the sea. That is all part of this issue, which Chris is talking about in this episode It’s a really far-ranging and very stimulating discussion, as it always is with Chris Miliotis and the passion with which he approaches this problem or the many problems we face is really inspiring and I always enjoy talking to him.
We’ve spoken before too. Several legends. I’ve had the privilege of speaking to so many wonderful people on this podcast over the years. I often refer back to Allan Savory who talks about a holistic context that every decision that is made by governments, by corporations, by companies – big and small, by businesses – big and small, by governments – big and small, local council, state, federal, global organisations. There needs to be a holistic context that overrides everything.
For example, something which says no decision will be made has an adverse effect on human health and degrades the planet. Now, if that was the holistic context for every decision that was made underneath it. I think we would be having a very different world in which we live.
That was something that was inspiring from Allan Savory. The other thing that Allan Savory talked about was that if we are expecting the change to come from above and by that, he’s talking about governments and regulatory bodies, we will be waiting a long time because they are very slow to take up new ideas. There is a lot of ego and reputations involved and they lack common sense.
Actually, I would argue that the way this pandemic has been handled is a good example of that because it’s a reflection of how we have approached chronic degenerative diseases, preventable chronic degenerative diseases, always looking for the medication to manage with no shortage of as evidence-based marketing or medicine. We could put those two words have become interchangeable.
We all aspire to evidence-based medicine but Professor John Ioannidis from Stanford University, is an epidemiologist at Stanford University, Professor of Medicine at Stanford University, and is one of the most-cited authors in the world. A citation is when you write something and that reference that you’ve written is cited by other authors.
Now, I’ve written an article in the mid-90s on chronic pain and jaw clenching and I think it has been cited maybe 10 or 20 times. If an author, who is a more prolific author than I cites has a reference that was cited several thousand times, that’s extraordinary. There are authors that have been cited five, 10, 20000 times. John Ioannadis’s articles have been cited 250000 times. So that’s what a citation is all about.
When someone says something that people, in evidence, in the refereed journals that people feel is worthy of repeating and referencing again. He said that evidence-based medicine has been hijacked and it’s difficult to discern the difference between evidence-based medicine and evidence-based marketing.
Now we’ve done a week, there’s a whole programme I’ve done on trust the science because we all want to trust the science. However, this is another topic just like regenerative agriculture that whether we like it or not, we all need to engage with. How do you trust science? Well, it provides that science, and that’s a question we cover in some other podcasts. But the way this pandemic has been handled, I believe is very similar to the way so many environmental issues I handled.
5 Ps of this pandemic
I’ve identified the 5 Ps of this pandemic. These are in order of priority. To me, unquestioningly, Profit is the main driver, and I think one could argue that environmentally, that is what drives business and an environment is a far down second, but Profit is driving it. Politics is another. Power is another. Patents are another. We have those 4 Ps as the main drivers of this pandemic, and we could argue about putting those in the right order.
I think unquestioningly, we have to accept that Public Health comes a long way down in those 5 Ps and if you doubt that, then I ask you, “How often have you heard public health people talking about prevention?”.
Prevention is the key to immune function
Prevention building immune function, which has been the main focus, a major focus of this podcast with so many of my guests and more recently, Professor Ian Brighthope, where he talked about the C, D, Zinc Protocol, which is using Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Zinc as a preventive measure.
How often have you heard from public health figures or the media about early intervention? Soon, as you test positive, what do you do? As soon as you develop symptoms, what do you do? We hear nothing about that.
We hear about social isolation. We hear about masks. We hear about vaccinations and I think they all have a place. There’s no question about that. Although I do, I am concerned about the experimental nature of these new vaccines.
This is not an argument about vaccinations or not. It’s an argument about experimental technology being used. We’ve explored that as well but I come back to what Chris has been talking about and what so many of my guests have been talking about and I referenced Allan Savory.
Five cycles that are central to regenerative agriculture
Another wonderful guest that I’ve had is Charlie Massy (Charles Massy), the author of The Call of the Reed Warbler, and he identifies five cycles that are central to regenerative agriculture. The Solar Cycle, which is putting plants on the ground to capture and solar energy and put carbon into the soil. The Water Cycle, when you make more organic matter in the soil, the water is absorbed into the soil.
He also talks about the soil minerals cycle, and this comes back to what nutrient-dense foods are all about and why we need to engage with this topic because seemingly cheap foods look good. But do they have the essential nutrients, the 50 or 60 elements from the periodic table that we require, in our foods to make us healthy? And for that, we need a healthy microbiome in the soil, and that’s the third cycle, the Soil Minerals Cycle.
The fourth cycle is Biodiversity. We need biodiversity and that is true of the environment, it is true of the gut microbiome, it is true of the oral microbiome, it is true of the soil microbiome. The more biodiverse, the more diverse those microbiomes are, the more resilient you and the soil and the planet will be.
I think that is a great metaphor for planetary harmony if you like. Respecting and encouraging biodiversity to build resilience, not just into our individual health through our own microbiomes but also into our soil health by building microbes and fungi and mycorrhizal fungi into the soil. Charlie Massey’s fifth cycle is perhaps the most important, and that’s the Human Social Cycle, which is you and me and the farmers that are growing the food that we need.
This week’s episode touched on so much. It raises so many issues, and it brings us back to why I think we should all be involved in this conversation. Not just about developing a holistic context for every decision that is made, but also to engage with how our foods are grown and supporting farmers that are looking to make the problem the soil-ution and building healthy soils, not just for our nutrient-dense foods today, but for growing nutrient-dense foods for generations to come. I hope this finds you well. Until next time.
This podcast provides general information and discussion about medicine, health, and related subjects. The content is not intended and should not be construed as medical advice or as a substitute for care by a qualified medical practitioner. If you or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately qualified medical practitioner. Guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, experiences, and conclusions.