Regenerative Farming Is Deeply Healing For Our Planet + Our Bodies: Here's Why

It’s no secret our planet is hurting from the careless and rushed habits we’ve developed as a result of technology, convenience, and “cost-effective” mass production. 

It may be convenient, but is it really cost-effective? 

Truth be told, there’s a much bigger cost.

It comes at the cost of not only our planet’s health but also OUR health. The lack of respect for our earth – and the soil that sustains our food sources – has created a cascade of negative repercussions. 

Our soil is sick.

As a result, our foods are less nutritious than ever before.

And it ultimately shows up in our health – and even in the flavors on our plate. 

Uncovering this truth can feel depressing. And overwhelming. 

But there’s a major solution to bring the profound renewal and healing our planet needs. The best part: it lies in a really simple concept that could drastically change the future of our planet (and our health). It’s called regenerative agriculture, or regenerative farming. 

At Primally Pure, we have a passion for reconnecting soil and skin and the values of ancestral wisdom + simpler living. So it felt necessary to shed some light on this beneficial way of producing + consuming that’s in line with our beliefs. 

We had the pleasure of interviewing our friend + advocate for regenerative farming practices, Paul Greive. With years of experience and passion under his belt and leading a movement through the company Pasturebird, he had some fascinating things to share with us about his viewpoint + journey that’ll leave you pondering the origins of your food (even organic). 

But first, let’s introduce regenerative farming + how it’s different. 

What Is Regenerative Farming? 

As Paul helpfully pointed out, regenerative farming isn’t some out-of-reach notion. The concept is simple. When it comes down to it, it’s about returning to our ancestral/indigenous roots and leaving the earth better than we found it. 

But to understand what this looks like, let’s zoom out for a moment and look at the big picture.

How Regenerative Farming Is Different From “Normal” Farming

Today, most “farming” includes monocrops or large plots of single crops. This method of farming goes against nature’s design. Nature has an integral, natural interaction between various plants, animals, and the soil. They need each other, and they’re more healthy in coexistence.

We thought Paul would be the perfect person to hash this out better. Here’s how he defines regenerative agriculture:

“For me, it’s really simple: did you leave the land better than you found it? 

Is the soil healthier?

Is there more biodiversity?

Does the soil hold more water?

Does it produce more?

Those are the key biomarkers. But really, regenerative farming is just what they used to call ‘good farming.’ You’re leaving it better.

Essentially, it’s farming the “old-fashioned” way, without shortcuts. This is precisely why most farms don’t run this way anymore. It’s more work, and it takes time to heal “sick” soil before you can grow crops. 

Returning to ancestral wisdom, regenerative farming involves patient practices like:

  • Letting animals rotate and graze (which naturally fertilizes + aerates the soil)
  • Not using fungicides, pesticides, or herbicides (keeping produce clean)
  • Letting plants + weeds grow (to support a diverse ecosystem)
  • Minimal tillage of the soil (which destroys microorganisms needed for carbon storage)

Farming increases soil biodiversity in this way. Similar to gut health, soil needs a healthy and diverse microbiome. It also increases the soil’s carbon-carrying capacity and decreases greenhouse emissions.

There’s also an essential distinction between sustainable and regenerative farming.

Sustainable farming is more commonly known. But sustainable farming just “maintains” the land. Regenerative farming actually heals and “regenerates” the land. Though sustainability is noble + valuable, regenerative agriculture is the only answer to truly begin healing our planet + the ground beneath our feet. We shouldn’t be “sustaining” a broken system.

One of the biggest direct benefits of regenerative farming for humans is the nutrient-dense food it produces. Regeneratively grown food is much higher in essential nutrients, minerals, and vitamins than anything you’ll find at the grocery store – even organic. 

This may feel out of reach if you’ve never seen regenerative food at your local grocery. But Paul Greive is making strides to create accessible regenerative food through the brand Pasturebird. You’ll definitely want to hear his story. 

Regenerative Farming Q&A With Paul Greive From Pasturebird

With years of experience in regenerative farming, we wanted to learn more about his background and how he got involved. His journey, perspective, and insight were invaluable. (Thanks, Paul, for letting us pick your brain!)

Q: How did you get into regenerative agriculture?

A: I was a city kid with no interest in food and farming. When I was in the Marine Corps, I was in the backwoods of Virginia in sniper command school, and I got Lyme disease. I started getting some brain fog, fatigue, and arthritis – some weird things for a 22-year-old kid. Pretty much, I was recommended to go on a paleo diet. 

I just felt like a kid again, and it was the first time I ever thought about how the food you put in your body affects the way you feel and perform. And then I just got really interested in the food system in general, started buying better quality food, and really ran into this road block. We could find organic produce and grass-fed, grass-finished beef. But for the life of us, we couldn’t find pasture-raised chicken.

And we decided on a whim to order some birds for our backyard out in Temecula. It was meant to be a family hobby, kind of a joke, and the rest was history. 

Q: Why, in your opinion, is regenerative farming “worth the wait” or extra effort most farmers/producers aren’t comfortable with? 

A: It’s funny. For Americans, it’s not a fast process, right? But it’s pretty remarkable what you can do in a 3-5 year period that to us seems like a lifetime, but to indigenous cultures (and a lot of people around the world), that’s literally the blink of an eye. There’s a lot of dynamics at play. I think there are three main parts:

  • Nutrient density – People don’t understand that an apple isn't an apple and an orange isn’t actually an orange. There was a study done almost ten years ago that said the vitamin A level in an orange today is 90% less than it was in the 1950s. You’d have to eat ten oranges to get the same amount of vitamins as you did eating one back in the day. And it still looks like an orange. 

  • In fact, it probably looks even better than it did back in the day. It’s got the wax on it, the pesticides – so it looks very beautiful and perfect. It’s very appealing to the eye and the brain. But it’s an empty food. And that goes for what you put on your skin too, obviously, it’s the same exact thing. 

  • Ecology and stewardship of land – I feel like we’re called to take care of the land and what God’s given us. The modern idea of agriculture is all about extraction. So it’s about “What can I get from the land?” And at the end of my career, it’s all about how much money I put in the bank – it’s not about what I’m leaving for the next generation with soil health. 

  • A big part of inheritance in indigenous cultures was the health of the land you passed on. But we just don’t think about that at all anymore. 40% of American farms are leased land. It’s not even people who own the land. So, how can you really care about stewarding the land and making sure you’re passing on good soil if you know you’re giving it back? You’re just leasing it anyway. 

  • It’s more fun – If you walk on any conventional farm – chicken, corn, carrots, kale – it doesn’t matter what it is, it’s a little depressing. On the chicken side, you’ll see 25,000 birds all walking on top of each other. They live, eat, sleep, and poop in the same place. You have hundreds of thousands of pounds of manure where they live. 

  • And then you go on to a corn field, and it’s just thousands of acres of one plant over and over and over with no wildlife, trees, or anything. The rain comes down and the soil washes away. Off-season is thousands of acres of barren dirt. And if you think about the places where they grow it, these are places buffalo used to roam. There were beautiful trees, savannahs, butterflies, wildlife, and so much life. And we’ve just stripped it all away to grow corn and soybeans? To me, it’s just depressing. 

    When you walk on a regenerative farm, the energy just feels so good. The animals are stoked, things are green, vibrant, and lush, things taste good, smell good, and it looks good. Regenerative land is so beautiful. There’s nowhere else I’d rather hang out. 

    Q: Since regenerative agriculture focuses on soil health, how does regenerative farming actually “heal” the soil? 

    A: “Organic matter” is a good measure for how healthy your soil is. Organic matter includes roots, animal manure, decomposed leaves, and anything other than just “dirt.” The difference between dirt and soil is organic matter. The higher the organic matter, the healthier the soil. For reference, 8% organic matter is insanely healthy soil, whereas 0.1% is basically dead dirt. 

    In terms of actually healing it, three critical factors improve soil health: 

  • Animal movement – It’s not just animals. It’s animals moving and giving the land enough rest time to actually benefit from manure. 

  • Cover cropping – Healthy ecosystems always have what we call “armor” on the soil. There’s always something living on the soil. It’s never just bare. Any time you see bare soil, usually that’s a sign that it’s not regenerative at all. It’s like when you get a cut, and it starts to scab over. That’s what the earth is always trying to do – cover bare soil. Bare soil isn’t natural at all.

  • Crop rotation/biodiversity – In nature, there are no monocrops. But when you have grasses, weeds, clovers, and different plants growing throughout the year, that’s a really resilient system compared to one crop grown for 500 acres, and if you get a pest or something happens, it can wipe out the entire crop.”

  • Q: Once you’ve “healed” the soil, do you have to do anything to maintain it (aside from animal grazing/rotating), or does nature just take over? 

    A: I’ve met very few farmers who would say, “Oh yeah, I’m fully regenerated now.” You could kind of always keep improving. I assume at some point academically you’d get to where the goal truly is sustainability. We talk so much about sustainable agriculture, but the problem is you don’t want to sustain a broken system. Sustainability is not a good goal. 

    Like if your skin is jacked up, you don’t want to sustain it at that point. You want to be regenerating and then get to where it’s healthy. And THEN you sustain. But I know guys who have been hardcore regenerative for 30-40 years and are still seeing gains every year. 

    It’s largely going to be the same process. You’re still going to move your animals around, you’re going to have great yields, and have a really resilient system that handles a lot of rain or really dry years. It’s going to handle a lot of natural stuff that gets thrown at you. You’re going to handle it a lot better once your land is really, really healthy. 

    Q: How have you seen the difference in nutrient density and flavor of produce from regenerative farming firsthand? 

    A: I’ve had guys show me beef or different vegetables that come off land, which is 8-9% organic matter, and you literally taste the difference. It is crazy how rich in nutrient density it is. And it comes through in flavor, at the end of the day. If you eat an apple or strawberry from ultra-nutrient-dense land, you’ll immediately know the difference. It will look different, it will taste different, and it will nourish your body in a totally different way, too. 

    Q: What’s one interesting fact you’ve learned about regenerative farming that surprised you?

    A: Every time you can increase your organic matter by 1%, (which, by the way, is really doable), you raise the water holding capacity (how much water can be stored in the soil) up by 25,000 gallons per acre. Every time you raise it 1%. In farming, it’s actually not about how much rain you get, it’s about how much water you can keep. 

    It’s remarkable. When you go from 1, 2 to 3% on 30 acres, now, you’re storing 1.5 million gallons of water more than you would have previously. And that’s just 30 acres.  Water is the fundamental key to all life. To be able to keep more water is everything. In modern industrial  farming, water hits the ground and doesn’t absorb much, so it’s fully saturated and runs off. Runoff also carries soil, losing topsoil (between that and wind). Topsoil is how you grow food. 

    Q: What’s a good first step to supporting regeneratively farmed products if they love the idea but feel overwhelmed getting started?

    A: The biggest fallacy is that you have to go from zero to everything perfect. Any kind of effort – buy one regenerative item per month just to start. Go to your farmer’s market and get to know some local farmers there. Any kind of effort is moving you in the right direction. 

    I think we can all get really bogged down in trying to do everything perfectly or thinking, “Oh, now everything I buy has to be regenerative.” It’s not realistic or feasible. But similar to how we say food is medicine, then farmers are your doctors. 

    How much effort do you put into the place you bring your kids for a check-up or even just an oil change for your car? 

    You’re going to read some reviews and do some research. It’s okay to immerse yourself a little bit in some of that. Find a few farms you trust, and then go support them with whatever you can. It doesn’t have to be every single meal. Buy one whole regenerative chicken per month, and you’re literally moving the needle that way. 

    Number two is education and getting a passion for it. I highly recommend people check out a few documentaries. Kiss the Ground does a great job of encapsulating what’s possible and giving a vision. And once you have a vision, everything else kind of falls into place. Food Inc. (even though it’s old) is really good at showing how bad it is, and it has a good message of regenerative farming at the end. So I think that can help people get on the right track, too. 

    We’re so thankful that Paul was willing to share some of his story with us. Hopefully, it puts into perspective just how important – yet also attainable regenerative farming can be. Speaking of, we’re excited to be investing in regenerative practices ourselves.

    How We’re Practicing Regenerative Farming at Primally Pure

    As a holistic skincare company using natural ingredients from the earth + ethically raised animals, we feel it’s our responsibility to be good stewards of the resources we incorporate in our products. In every way possible. 

    We’ve been working behind the scenes for a few years on our very own plot of regenerative farmland. Our founder, Bethany, first started making skincare using tallow from Primal Pastures. So, to come full circle and partner with them to regeneratively grow + produce some of our own ingredients is a moment we’re deeply proud of. 

    As promised, our vision + goal is to embrace the concept of soil-to-skin even more fully as we step into our calling. Growing some of our own regenerative ingredients is a huge step forward because: 

    1. We can be involved in the full life-cycle of our products.
    2. We’ll have even more control over the quality of our ingredients – and the potency of your results. ;)

    We’re starting with olive oil and perennial herbs like white sage, rosemary, mint, and lavender. Adventure awaits and we can’t wait to share this with you!

    The Beginnings of a Healthier Planet

    Decades of mass-production farming have ruined much of our soil and its ability to support a healthy environment + ecosystem. That’s why we can’t stop at sustainability. We need to do more – and we can do more. For the earth (and obviously, your skin. ;))

    Regenerative farming goes a step further to restore + heal the root problem.

    We’re excited to be stepping into some regenerative farming practices ourselves + play a part in reviving a rich, resilient, and beautiful ecosystem. 

    Just as nature intended.


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    Regenerative farming is a traditional method that leaves the earth better than we found it. Here’s how it’s profoundly healing for both the planet + our bodies.  | Primally Pure Skincare

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