My “aunt-around-the-corner” is what my Oma called her; Avon is my uncle’s ex-wife’s sister, and she’s incredibly supportive and generous – a “connector”.
After we first moved back to Ontario in 2015, Avon connected me with her naturopath Tracey Beaulne: Avon had raved about our pasture-raised eggs – eggs raised by a microbial ecologist turned farmer – and Tracey got curious and wanted to chat. Tracey was looking for scientists to join her “expert panel” on the microbiome. While the panel’s focus was human health, she wanted to make connections between the soil microbiome and human health. I was a very new farmer and Nira was still only 18 months, but it was my first big “gig” since motherhood and it was exciting to talk soil again!
Tracey’s interview with me was the second in what would be 24 interviews with top scientists, researchers, clinicians and thought leaders from around the world. She and her team at University of Toronto and Genuine Health put together a comprehensive panel including Sandor Katz (fermentation!) and David Montgomery (soil!) and leading physicians into an online education series they call Town Hall Medicine.
Town Hall Medicine gives you access to credible science-backed information, with the belief that this knowledge will give you what you need to take steps to live a healthier life. Evidence-based information for a healthier life (and world!)
Before it was went online, I was sent the edited version of my interview. It took me 2 months to watch it – partially due to pathetically slow rural internet and partially due to cringe factor of watching yourself. I finally watched it one night on zippy internet in TO… it’s just fine, but of course there are some things I would say differently now… Consider this my addendum to the interivew.
Clarifications and additional points:
- We now know a lot more about how soil and atmosphere CO2 affect plant nutrient quality!
- I wish to clarify this important point: Eliminating chemical use in agriculture is absolutely good for human and soil health. “Organic” agriculture, however, is not panacea for soil and human health. Organic agriculture relies on tillage for weed control, and tilling destroys soil structure; some organic agriculture still relies on sprays – just not toxic (or nearly as); organic certification in Canada mandates time on grass but ruminants are still fed grain, which their bodies can’t digest without harm to the animal and which disrupts the nutrient quality of the dairy product. Finally, organic agriculture says nothing about the type of diversity that is in place. This is especially for “big organics” (think: imported baby carrots, lettuce, tomatoes).
- A truly regenerative, resilient agriculture relies on diversity in time and space. This looks like integrated crops and livestock, extended (4+) rotations of field and vegetable crops; integration of perennials (grasses, trees); and cover crops on bare ground at all times.