OCTOBER IS ONE of my favorite months in Marin. The weather is still warm, there is a hint of the holidays in the air and the 49ers have a chance to be great again.
Harvest is also on my mind, thanks to wine country events, forays to farmers markets and, recently, my experience at Futurewell, a daylong symposium in Tomales where well-known speakers from around the country discussed future well-being. After just a couple hours at the aptly named event, I felt encouraged, actually more like frothed up to the point of evangelism. The time is now — this is it, people; we can change the world. Bear with me as I sort through what I learned.
The answer to wellness is simple: it’s the soil, stupid. The new (to me) buzzword is regenerative agriculture. What is it? Growing food and textile crops with a nod to pre–World War II harvesting techniques (as in sans chemicals and monocrops). The summit conveniently took place at Stemple Creek Ranch, a fourth-generation operation that’s now a thriving example of the benefits of these methods. Those organic and biodynamic practices also figured prominently in The Biggest Little Farm, the award-winning documentary about director John Chester and his wife’s rocky eight-year effort to grow food from the land the old-fashioned way.
In one of the day’s first discussions, Finian Makepeace (I googled; that’s his real name) physically demonstrated connections between agriculture, conservation, soil health and gut health — using actual soil. Makepeace has a website, kisstheground.com, that presents findings from in-depth research on the pluses of regenerative agriculture, offers a free downloadable curriculum for educators and provides information on businesses to support that are following these guidelines.
After his talk came a panel discussion that included Dr. Zack Bush, who specializes in internal medicine, endocrinology and metabolism, and hospice palliative care.
When he was introduced I thought, “Oh geez, here comes the sales pitch for his line of supplements.” Au contraire: he continued the conversation about soil health as it relates to our bodies. He explained the glyphosate (the controversial ingredient in pesticides like Roundup) on the microbes in our guts and told of studies indicating its links to cancer, gluten sensitivity and neurological disorders. He didn’t talk doom and gloom or try to sell a quick fix-pill; instead, he talked about how powerful our bodies are in promoting regeneration when given the chance. He also explained how while we think of genetics as being passed down from our parents, the good news is we can actually influence our genetics through the food choices we make.
Like many people, I often feel helpless when I think about the future of the planet. My daughters talk about raising kids together, about where they will live and encourage me to not move so I can be that crazy grandma who lives on a houseboat. I force myself to think positive thoughts about how the climate will calm down, insidious diseases like cancer will have swift and effective cures and basically, I like to think that my daughters can realize their futures without having to face these overwhelming environmental threats. Living in a county like Marin, where there are so many deeply passionate people who create businesses aligned with the best sustainable practices, is inspirational. Urban Remedy, Navitas Organics, EO Products and Equator Coffee, to name just a few, are all local companies that make it easier for us to try to live the best lives we can.
Thank you for reading and riding along with my new wave of hope. Believe me, I have lots of room for improvement in my own consumer habits, but I’ve been heartened by the prospect of regeneration of our soils, bodies and habits. Cheers to harvest!
Mimi Towle, Editor