Local Farmer Explains the Benefits of Pasture Raised Animals
A Five Part Series
Part 2: Regenerative Agriculture
In this post, we’re continuing our focus on the 5 core principles of Pasturebird with a segment on regenerative agriculture. This term may be new to many of you, but we’ll explore it in more detail here and explain why it’s such an important aspect of farming, and such an important part of our mission.
If you follow the news and current events, you know that climate change is a major global problem, and it’s more important than ever that we all take measures to increase our environmental awareness and work to combat this worldwide issue. For businesses, that means aligning business interests with environmental stewardship.
Conventional Farming is Harsh on the Environment
Even though it revolves almost entirely around nature, conventional farming is one of the most environmentally destructive industries out there. In fact, for every 1 kg of food produced, conventional poultry farming produces 9.87kg in greenhouse gas emissions, and uses 660 liters of freshwater. One kilogram translates to about 2.2 pounds of chicken. So to produce less than one whole roasting chicken, conventional farming uses almost 174 gallons of water, and produces as much greenhouse gas emissions as driving 24 miles in a car.
Despite its severe impact on the environment, agriculture is an absolutely necessary industry. Humans need to eat, and the earth’s population is greater than ever. The agriculture industry is, to put it bluntly, a necessary evil. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be “evil.” When farms put as much effort into reducing or offsetting their environmental impact as they do into creating a profit, not only can they conserve resources, but they can actually replenish them.
Regenerative Agriculture is the Answer
When we started this company, we wanted to find a way to make sure that our concerns were focused not only on our business, but also on the impact that our business had on the world around us. That’s why regenerative agriculture is a cornerstone of Pasturebird.
If you’re familiar with the concept of holistic medicine and the interconnectedness of the body, think of the earth as an organism of similar interconnectedness. Just like holistic medicine focuses on the impact that a disturbance in one organ system can have on the rest of the body, regenerative agriculture focuses on the impact that soil, water use, carbon emissions, and biodiversity depletion can have on the environment as a whole. If soil is depleted, the other systems that rely on that soil will also be affected. In fact, the depletion of nutrients in soil is a threat to worldwide crop yield and global food security.
Regenerative Agriculture Benefits Pasture Raised Animals and the Land They Graze On
Regenerative agriculture goes beyond sustainability and conservation. While sustainability and conservation are focused on conserving resources, regenerative agriculture takes things a step further to actually replenish the resources used in the agricultural process. When regenerative agriculture is applied to the process of raising animals on pasture, it focuses on replenishing the carbon content of soil, which cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions while improving crop yield and increasing soil biodiversity. While “crop yield” may not seem to have much to do with raising chickens on pasture, increased crop yield basically means that the soil grows more “stuff” because it’s healthier, whether that “stuff” is being consumed by animals, or humans. In the case of a grazing pasture, healthy soil makes for increased growth of grasses and plants which gives animals a healthier and varied selection for grazing.
When it comes to raising animals on pasture, focusing on regenerative agriculture means that we ensure that the animals are not constantly grazing in the same spot, which can deplete and even damage the soil. Our chickens are moved to a new pasture area daily, and the previous grazing area is allowed to regenerate before the animals are allowed to graze on it again. The chickens and the earth have somewhat of a symbiotic relationship, because as the chickens graze and scratch, their droppings get worked into the soil, helping to replenish the nutrients lost during the grazing process. This enriched soil fosters new growth of plant life, and healthy soil traps significantly more carbon than depleted soil - a key to reducing agriculture’s carbon footprint and slowing down climate change.
It may sound crazy, but reducing the environmental impact of our business is just as important to us as turning a profit. We believe that there is more than one way to measure success, and especially when we are newcomers to an industry with such a negative reputation for its environmental impact, we believe that there is a lot of work to be done, and a lot of benefit to be had by changing the agricultural status quo. Regenerative agriculture is imperative for repairing the environment for sure, but it also has a measurable impact and benefit on any company who chooses to follow its practices.
Allowing the soil to regenerate and plant life to regrow before the next grazing session not only benefits the land, but it ensures that the pasture remains fertile and full of nutrients for the chickens to consume. That’s part of what sets Pasturebird chickens apart - the savory, complex flavor that our customers rave about comes from providing our chickens with a nutrient dense and varied diet on a daily basis. While the chickens’ diet of insects, worms, grasses and seeds may not sound very appealing, the result is a flavorful meat that is packed full of vitamins and nutrients. Call it good karma or just smart farming, but regenerative agriculture benefits our final product just as much as it benefits the environment. Allowing our chickens to consistently graze on replenished and nutrient dense soil ensures that the taste of our final product is unparalleled - our pasture raised chickens taste the way chicken is supposed to taste, because they eat the healthy, balanced, sustainable diet that they are supposed to eat.
Simply put, regenerative agriculture is getting back to the way farming is meant to be, and we hope that more modern companies will adopt this crucial practice of sustainability and resource rejuvenation to ensure that farming remains a viable industry and reduces its negative impact on the environment.