The Next Food Phrase Big Brands are Banking On

Regenerative Agriculture is a bit of a mouthful compared to “organic,” but there’s a good reason why consumers should familiarize themselves with the term: It will start appearing on food labels as a way for brands to demonstrate they work with farmers dedicated to healthy soil.

On Tuesday, Annie’s Homegrown, Inc., known for its white cheddar macaroni and cheese, announced it has partnered with Montana farmers who use regenerative agricultural practices. The farmers grow crops — including wheat, peas and oats — that are later developed into limited-edition noodles and graham cracker snacks for Annie’s. The farmers’ names and crops will appear on each limited-edition Annie’s box.

On Wednesday, DanoneWave, a multinational food company that includes brands like Oikos and Dannon, also announced its commitment to exploring regenerative agriculture and soil health within the next year and a half. Dannon, Annie’s and Ben and Jerry’s are working together to create a verification system for food grown using regenerative agriculture, Farm Forum reported Wednesday. If they succeed, products would likely display a seal like the “USDA Organic” one.

This move could help reverse climate change

Regenerative agriculture is synonymous with soil health, Byron Rath, communications specialist for the Soil Health Institute, said in an email, explaining that soil health is a holistic term. Healthy soil helps filter water, provide nutrition to crops and can also help purify and clean the air.

Healthy soil can play a large role in preventing or reversing climate change. The ability of soil to hold water can help “build resilience to drought and extreme precipitation,” Rath explained. The “soil organic carbon” in a given field of crops can influence how much water the soil can retain. “Farming practices such as no-till, cover crops and crop rotation have proven effective at increasing [soil organic carbon], thereby restoring a soil’s resilience,” Rath said. The process of allowing healthy soil to store carbon from the atmosphere is known as carbon sequestration.

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