4 Tips for Eating More Regeneratively Every Day
by Evan DeMarco on Oct 18, 2022
If you’re eating sustainably, good for you: that’s a great way to help protect the planet. If you’re eating regeneratively, however, so much the better.
It’s no secret that the planet is in crisis, from climate change to a quickly eroding topsoil layer and desertification. Sustainable measures, which by definition maintain the status quo, aren’t enough anymore. Today, more ecological activists are turning toward regenerative measures: things that don’t just maintain the status quo, but improve it.
Even if you can’t run out, buy a farm and make it regenerative, there are still plenty of things you can do to help create change on a smaller level. That includes eating regeneratively.
Here’s a little more on regenerative agriculture, and how you can “eat regeneratively” on a regular basis.
What is regenerative agriculture and eating?
Regenerative agriculture has been around for millennia, often practiced by indigenous tribes. Industrial farming techniques gained prevalence in the mid-20th century, and quickly took over. Unfortunately, these practices release carbon and methane into the atmosphere, contribute to topsoil depletion and release chemicals into waterways. This has had a severe effect on the environment.
In contrast, regenerative agriculture actively seeks to improve the earth, from the topsoil to our water supply. Techniques like cover cropping, no-plow planting and grass-fed livestock go a long way toward leaving things better than we found it.
Regenerative eating simply means understanding these principles, and focusing on food choices that support regenerative farming practices.
How to eat regeneratively
These tips will help you incorporate regenerative produce and meat into your diet on a regular basis, whether you grow your own food or eat at the grocery store:
Focus on variety
Current dietary wisdom tells us to “eat the rainbow” for nutritional variety. Eating different colored plants ensures that you’re also consuming the nutrients and compounds responsible for their varied hues. It’s the cheat code to nutrition—but it’s also a good way to ensure you’re eating in a regenerative fashion.
Just like different plants offer different nutrients, they require different nutrients to grow. That’s why rotating crops and using cover crops is such a good way to improve soil health. When you eat a wide variety of produce and other foods, you’re contributing to demand for a variety of crops. In turn, this contributes to better soil and nutrient biodiversity.
Eat regenerative meat
You can still eat regeneratively, even if you eat meat. The key is finding sustainable—or better yet, regenerative—sources of meat. The Monterey Bay Aquarium publishes a regularly-updated seafood watch site, where you can find out which fish and shellfish are currently the best environmental choices.
For land-based meat, like beef, poultry, pork and game, you’ll need to search for regenerative producers near you. Alternatively, if you have a hunter in the family, research which game is prolific (for example, wild boar often have overpopulation problems) and consider having the meat processed and frozen.
Look for pulse crops
Pulse crops, like beans, chickpeas, peas and lentils are a great way to get plenty of nutrition and support the environment. Pulse crops are great for pulling nitrogen from the atmosphere and into the soil—then they leave it there for the next crop. It acts as a natural fertilizer. This is key for crop rotation.
Pulse crops also help increase water retention in the soil, and may even ward off crop-killing pests. Plus, they’re cheap and nutritionally dense—what more could you ask for?
Take anti-food waste measures
When you waste food, you’re wasting something the planet worked to produce. While we can’t always finish every last food scrap, the sheer amount of food waste in America is staggering. To combat food waste, try to only buy what you need, and take home leftovers when possible.
If you absolutely have to throw something out, composting can be a good solution. Allowing certain food products and organic matter to break down enriches the soil, leaving you with nutrient-rich dirt for your own garden, or to share with friends. Don’t have the space for a compost pile? Some cities sponsor and promote composting with special collection bins—find out if yours does the same.
Eat regeneratively for a healthier planet
We’re all familiar with eating for our own health, but eating for a healthier planet is just as important. Following these tips will help you incorporate regenerative eating into your diet, from your produce to curbing food waste.