Meet Jessica Shade, director of science programs at the Organic Center. Her research focuses on the benefits of organic food and farming. We got the scoop.
Applegate: Regenerative agriculture is a hot topic these days because of the hope it offers to sequester carbon. But organic offers plenty of these benefits. What does research show?
Jessica: Organic farmers are required to use a suite of regenerative practices that all build carbon reserves in the soil while reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. Recent research shows that even when you take all the variation within farming systems into account, organic always comes out on top when it comes to sequestering carbon.
Applegate: How does organic livestock fit into this picture
Jessica: The organic certification mandates high standards not just the meat you buy but all pieces of the supply chain: from growing the livestock feed (which has to be 100% organic), to the pasture the animals graze on (organic livestock all have access to pasture), to the special animal-welfare requirements included in the organic regulations. When you buy organic you’re supporting richer soil, healthier pollinators, and preventing toxic chemical use from the field to your fork!
Applegate: What do you think is the future of regenerative practices in organic?
Jessica: There is a lot of evidence showing the regenerative benefits of organic … but one of my favorite parts of the organic community is that we’re constantly, preemptively, moving to improve the positive impacts we have. So as more research is done, organic will continue to be the leader toward agricultural sustainability.