In an encore of The Business Beat, Steve Jones-D’Agostino of Susan Wagner PR + Best Rate of Climb interviews Ronnie Cummins, co-founder and international director of the Organic Consumers Association, and Ben Grosscup, coordinator of the 2015 Summer Conference of the Northeast Organic Farming Association. They talk about the business and politics of organic food. This episode aired originally on August 9, 2015.
More than 1,000 backyard gardeners, health-conscious consumers, organic-farming families, and food activists converged on August 14 through 16 at UMass-Amherst for NOFA’s 41st annual Summer Conference. Participants were able to choose from more than 140 workshops on topics such as organic farming, gardening, land and animal care, sustainability, nutrition, and food politics.
Many workshops and the two keynote addresses highlighted this year's conference theme, "Healing the Climate, Healing Ourselves: Regeneration through Microbiology." Those presentations showed how microbiology is at work in the soil and human body, and how they are essential partners in solving some if our biggest problems today, including widespread chronic disease and global climate disruption.
One of the keynote speakers offered a similarly hopeful message in relation to the role of soil microbes in achieving a healthy climate. He’s Ronnie Cummins, who contends that humanity can reverse the global climate crisis by restoring healthy microbial life in our soils. Farmers and land managers along with conscious consumers can play a crucial role in this restoration, he argues, because the methods we use to manage soil microbial communities in combination with growing plants can produce dramatic impacts on the climate.
Regenerative organic agriculture focuses on providing soil life with favorable growing conditions, thus facilitating efficient photosynthesis and vigorous plant growth. Properly managed, this process can transform excessive atmospheric carbon concentrations into stable, soil-based carbon compounds that enhance soil fertility. By contrast, commonly used pesticides and herbicides kill the soil life, compromising soil integrity and causing soil carbon to oxidize into the atmosphere where it contributes to further global warming.