What is Regenerative Agriculture?

Regenerative agriculture is simpler than it sounds. Put plainly, regenerative farms utilize photosynthesis and healthy soil microbiology to draw down greenhouse gasses and capture them in the soil. This has the potential to reverse global warming and create healthier food and a healthier planet, while also feeding a growing population. At Cooks Venture, we utilize four critical components of regenerative food systems – ruminants, monogastrics, feed crops, and vegetables – to do exactly that. We build better communities through farming, and grow tastier food by applying sound science and lots of practice. Vote with your dollar: buy regeneratively grown food to build a food system that will save the planet.

 

How we do it at Cooks Venture


We work with scientists who measure soil carbon, nutrition, and other biological factors on our own 800-acre farm, and on the farms that grow feed for our livestock. We track year-over-year metrics to determine how our farming practices are impacting soil health, biodiversity, and pest populations, and make adjustments accordingly. Leading climate scientists agree that if this process was followed by all farmers globally, climate change could be reversed.

 

Our Logo

Our logo represents the four critical components of the food system that Cooks Venture addresses. It is more than a logo to us: it is a vision for a healthier food system that has the power to change the planet for the better. Each of these plants and animals, when managed properly, has the potential to feed us as we grow in numbers, while also reversing climate change. This isn’t just a claim. Our methods are backed by decades of science and research with the top thinkers in the world on global climate systems and agriculture. See the articles at the bottom of the page that discuss the potential of this powerful system.

 

 

 

Ruminant Animals

Ruminant animals – including cattle, sheep, deer, antelopes, giraffes, and their relatives – are critical for healthy land. They ferment grass and cellulosic material into simple sugars in one of their four stomach compartments, called the rumen, and convert it into muscle. Cattle are misunderstood as major greenhouse gas contributors: the problem is not the number of cattle we raise, but how we raise them. In contrast to pre-colonial times, when wild ruminants roamed the prairies feeding on grasses, most of today’s cattle are fattened on grains at feed lots, where their waste is concentrated in toxic quantities rather than digested by soil microorganisms. When cattle are properly managed, and fed and finished on grass alone, they contribute to a healthy ecosystem and manage land with minimal human intervention. In other words, healthy cattle managed on permanent pasture can be restorative, as opposed to detrimental. For more on this, we recommend Nicolette Hahn Niman’s book, Defending Beef, and this TED Talk by The Savory Institute founder, Allan Savory.

Monogastric Animals

Monogastric animals have one stomach compartment and require carbohydrates and balanced nutrition to survive. These include chickens, pigs, rabbits, and humans! While our friends the ruminants can live on cellulose material from plants alone, monogastric animals require us to grow feed crops. When feed crops are well managed, with healthy crop rotations, in organic systems, we can feed monogastric farm animals and humans while reversing the effects of carbon emissions. When these crops are poorly managed, millions of acres of land can be negatively impacted just to grow a relatively small amount of feed for monogastric animals. This is a major contributor to global warming, and perhaps the biggest threat to our ecosystem. Put simply: Monogastrics can be a huge part of the problem or a key piece of the solution – that’s why we started by fixing biggest problem in the food system: chicken.

Crop System

The majority of farming in the world is dedicated to feed crops. 97% of American agriculture, outside of pasture, are crops like corn, wheat and soy – not vegetables, as we are often led to believe. Furthermore, the majority of American crops are grown in conventional systems that are subsidized with tax dollars. The largest crop in America is corn, engulfing over 400 million acres. About a third of American corn is used for ethanol, a fuel produced at an energy loss and paid for with your taxes. About 9% of domestic corn is used for poultry production, and 15% of corn is used for dairy and beef production (even though ruminants are biologically designed to eat grass, not corn!). If we stopped growing conventional corn for ethanol and cattle and focused on growing other diversified crops that contribute to the replacement of soil nutrition, we could double American food production while also reversing the effects of climate change. Our soil is our greatest natural resource; we have more top soil than any other nation in the world. That will not be the case for long unless we protect it through regenerative agriculture. Corn is not the enemy, but the way we manage land through its production is the biggest single problem in the modern food world.

Diversified Vegetables

Despite the popular perception that most farmers grow vegetables, diversified crops represent less than 3% of American agriculture, including all fruits and nuts. However, they are essential for human health and a healthy environment. We must create better rotational systems that work synergistically with nature and animals to require fewer inputs (fertilizers and pesticides) and less soil disruption.

How this works together

By building a holistic system, symbolized by our blazon representations of these plants and animals, we can effect positive change on millions of acres of land, taking carbon out of the atmosphere and putting it into the soil. This system requires both plants and animals, working together, as they have for millions of years. Such a system regenerates itself, improving with time, feeding us today and into the future.

Further Reading

This detailed report proves how organic agriculture and, specifically, regenerative organic agriculture can sequester carbon from the atmosphere and reverse climate change.

 

It’s Time to Rethink America’s Corn System

Only a tiny fraction of corn grown in the U.S. directly feeds the nation’s people, and much of that is from high-fructose corn syrup

Introduction to Permaculture

Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labor; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single product system.

Gambling Humanity’s Future: War, Cheating and Agriculture

Ricardo Salvador is internationally recognized and respected for his dedication to advocating and working for a food system that is healthier and more just. Watch as Dr. Salvador details just how many gambles we are taking with our own future.

Restoring the Climate through Capture and Storage of Soil Carbon through Holistic Planned Grazing

Explore tangible methods of restoring the climate as the Savory Institute takes us through Holistic Management and one of its associated processes, Holistic Planned Grazing.

Defending Beef: The Case for Sustainable Meat

In Defending Beef, Nicolette Hahn Niman — a longtime vegetarian — argues that cattle are neither inherently bad for the Earth nor is meat bad for our own nutritional health. In fact, properly managed livestock play an essential role in maintaining grassland ecosystems by functioning as surrogates for herds of wild ruminants that once covered the globe.

The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals

In this groundbreaking book, one of America’s most fascinating, original, and elegant writers turns his own omnivorous mind to the seemingly straightforward question of what we should have for dinner. To find out, Pollan follows each of the food chains that sustain us—industrial food, organic or alternative food, and food we forage ourselves—from the source to a final meal, and in the process develops a definitive account of the American way of eating

How to Green the World's Deserts and Reverse Climate Change

"Desertification is a fancy word for land that is turning to desert," begins Allan Savory in this quietly powerful talk. And terrifyingly, it's happening to about two-thirds of the world's grasslands, accelerating climate change and causing traditional grazing societies to descend into social chaos. Savory has devoted his life to stopping it. He now believes -- and his work so far shows -- that a surprising factor can protect grasslands and even reclaim degraded land that was once desert.

Fast-Growth Chickens Produce New Industry Woe: ‘Spaghetti Meat’

Chicken companies spent decades breeding birds to grow rapidly and develop large breast muscles. Now the industry is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to deal with the consequences ranging from squishy fillets known as “spaghetti meat,” because they pull apart easily, to leathery ones known as “woody breast.”