It has been well over two decades since I first learned about photosynthesis. And, in truth, I haven’t thought about it much since then (withstanding the need to make sure my home garden and houseplants receive enough light and water). I’d forgotten that through photosynthesis, plants pull nutrients from the air down into the soil – that one of the primary things they pull is carbon – and that having more carbon in the soil builds even better soil, which strengthens a plant and encourages it to grow more healthy, nutrient-dense food. And that many chemical fertilizers block this natural cycle from happening – so we have more carbon in the air and less in the soil.
Somehow, as an adult, all of these things seemed disconnected to me: a plant’s natural need for light and sun, the regular habit of manually adding organic matter to my garden soil to make it nutrient rich (with the assumption that plants couldn’t make the soil rich enough on their own), and an overwhelming amount of carbon in the air/atmosphere causing climate change.
I’d forgotten until I spent this past weekend taking a “crash course” at TomKat Ranch. BALLE convened a small group of localist leaders, farmers, ranchers, scientists, and healthcare professionals to brush up on photosynthesis and to learn about ways that sustainable agriculture and the local food movement could help mitigate climate change and provide more nutrient dense foods.
When I think about preventing climate change, I tend to think about reducing the use of fossil fuels, creating new technologies, etc. I’ve thought about “eating local” as a means to support local farmers, our local economy, and to reduce the impacts of transportation (fossil fuel use). I’d not thought about sustainable local agriculture as the primary means of fighting climate change. And from what I learned this last weekend, it very well may be. The food choices we make and the farmers we support are critically important, not only on the micro level in our communities and economies, but at the macro level without atmosphere and ecosystem. Just another (great) reason to eat local.