Do You Want Sustainable Food Choices? Think Agroecology….

How can we have more environmentally friendly, habitat restoring food? Listen to Daniel Moss, of Agroecology on The Sustainable Century Pocast.

I accidentally interviewed Daniel Moss of the Agro Ecology Fund a couple times this past month (I forgot to hit ‘record’ during the first interview!).  I now very much want his job, and or at least to meet more folks in his world.

I also learned that while there are many dire issues to place our sustainability attention, agro-ecology must surely be one of them.

Agroecology is farming that “centers on food production that makes the best use of nature’s goods and services while not damaging these resources.”  Farming of any kind can thrive when it works with local ecosystems. Agroecology improves soil and plant quality by using available biomass and biodiversity, rather than battling nature with chemical inputs.

Oh yeah, the food is great too.

Mountain top agroecological farmers testing water and soil.
Feeding the world with the restorative practice of agroecology.

If you have ever had an organic Mexican Paraiso or Manila mango in season, semi-wild blackberries in British Columbia, or shade grown organic coffee from Kenya, you may have bitten into or sipped a little bit of ‘agroecology’.

We all seem to love local and seasonal food more than commercially grown. There is just something about local, dirt-still-on-the-roots kind of food.

But the love we have for and the love that goes into producing this kind of food doesn’t make them any easier to grow.

Growing food that makes our shared habitat better is one of the most underrated and demanding occupations I’ve encountered in over 15 years of rural development work. Why farmers don’t get a much better deal is beyond me.

Challenging to Achieve: Critical to Our Survival

I know first-hand of the challenges and the hard work it takes to be an agroecologist.  I have a few insights from my work with smallholder farmers in over 30 countries around the world through the International Fund for Agricultural Development.  I also know because I am constantly trying to cultivate agroecological food, leading to more barren than fruitful outcomes! It’s not easy!

And it’s a life too few people want, and those that do it are usually underappreciated, often poor, and too often women with few alternatives and working without adequate support.

Panoramic scene of African farmland and mountains.

What I have learned from IFAD work and my own attempts at urban agroecology is that until you really know what you are doing, you are going to need the right expert technical support (often farmer to farmer) and access to required inputs (lots of proper native seeds, great compost etc!).

Regeneration at Scale Required

Agroecology won’t just feed and make us happier and healthier, it is a fundamentally critical tool in our battle against biodiversity loss and climate change.

Regeneration of the earth requires substantial tracks of lands appropriated for agro-industrial purposes be given back to their habitats.  Loss of Biodiversity every bit an existential threat as climate change.

And as difficult as it may seem, we must successfully deal with both climate and biodiversity at the same time if we are to make this planet sustainable for humans again.  Any objective analysis leads to the conclusion that agroecology will be a necessary part of any sustainable renaissance.

Who knows what such a renaissance would look like?

It’s safe to say that learning to live within ecological limits is a minimum.  Learning to thrive and flourish within our shared habitats will, however, require intensely ecologically enhanced agriculture. I hope you enjoy Daniel Moss as he explains the promise of agroecology.

Check out other recent related stories on The Sustainable Century.

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