With extreme weather becoming more common, we’re well aware that our planet is in danger. But perhaps we’re not so familiar with one potential solution to the climate crisis — ever heard of regenerative agriculture? If not, you should know that it “helps reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity,” and also creates healthier, more nutritionally rich crops.
Canidae® isn’t just a cat and dog food company; we’re determined to provide goodness to your pets and to the planet. Join us as we dig deep and uncover the benefits of regenerative agriculture.
Why Is Regenerative Agriculture So Important?
Regenerative agriculture is important because it has been ignored for so long. Crop production has increased in recent decades, but the crops’ nutritional value has been declining.
A University of Texas study looked into the United States Department of Agriculture’s data from between 1950 and 1999, and found that the content of phosphorus, iron, calcium, protein, ascorbic acid and riboflavin in crops has declined by 9% to 38%. These minerals all have numerous health benefits for people and pets.
If you’re wondering why the levels of these nutrients has dropped so much, you might be surprised to find out that the answer is relatively simple. It’s likely that excessive tillage — the process of preparing soil for crops — removes microbes and fungi that make soil biologically active. Biologically active soil boosts the nutritional value of crops, so a lack of it results in crops that aren’t as nutritious.
The Nutritional Benefits of Regenerative Agriculture
Regeneratively farmed crops have higher levels of nutrient density than standard crops. Nutrient density is basically the opposite of empty calories: A nutrient-dense food is rich in nutrients compared to a calorie-dense food that is higher in calories. Think about a serving of broccoli compared to a slice of chocolate cake — it’s pretty clear which one has more vitamins and nutrients.
However, it might not have been so obvious that the same broccoli can have significantly different levels of nutrient density — solely as a result of how it was grown. Regenerative farming practices that improve the variety of bacteria and fungi can make food more nutrient-dense, according to a project by researchers at the University of Washington.
These studies found that farms that used regenerative agriculture practices such as no-till farming (planting crops without disturbing the soil beforehand), cover crops (plants that are planted to improve soil health, rather than to be harvested) and diverse crop rotations (changing which crops are planted on the same piece of land) produced crops with higher levels of vitamins and minerals than conventional farms.
The stats are impressive: Compared to conventionally grown crops, the crops from regenerative agriculture farms had 34% more vitamin K, 15% more vitamin E, 14% more vitamin B1 and 17% more vitamin B2. Mineral levels were also higher, with 11% more calcium, 16% more phosphorus and 27% more copper.
The study also looked specifically at regenerative wheat crops, and what they found was staggering: Regenerative wheat contained 48% more calcium, 29% more magnesium, 41% more boron and 56% more zinc than conventionally grown wheat.
It’s important to remember that crops aren’t always used solely as an ingredient for pet foods or human foods. Lots of crops are grown for animal feed, and it’s no surprise that eating healthier crops results in healthier meat.
Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and help support dogs’ and cats’ livers, eyes, hearts and skin. The good news is regenerative crops have higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and a healthier ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids. It doesn’t stop there: Beef and pork that is fed with these crops also benefit from a fatty acid boost, with the meat showing considerably higher levels compared to livestock that eat conventional crops.
While the results of these studies are exciting, the researchers concede that only a small amount of soil was analyzed. That’s why it’s essential that other studies continue to uncover the potential of regenerative farming.
Rodale is a non-profit organization that supports research into regenerative and organic farming. Founded in 1947, they have 75-years of experience in the area and they don’t intend to stop anytime soon.
Their “Vegetable Systems Trial” is the first-ever long-term study designed explicitly to compare the nutrient densities of vegetable crops grown in organic and conventional systems under controlled conditions.
Rodale believes the focus conventional farming places on quantity has led to a massive decline in the nutritional quality of many crops. Once again, the researchers at Rodale believe the answer is in the soil: healthier soil grows healthier plants. They think that even though the food we eat today contains less protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin, and vitamin C than food produced just a half-century ago, that this could be reversed with a switch to regenerative farming.
Canidae’s Commitment to Regenerative Agriculture
As well as partnering with Rodale Institute, we’re making some big commitments to regenerative agriculture. This investment stems from our mission to do things that are good for pets and the planet.
We’re currently sourcing around 40% of available regenerative ingredients in our recipes and are actively working with our regenerative farming partners to increase that amount, with a commitment to reach 50% by the end of 2022.
By incorporating regeneratively farmed ingredients into our recipes, we are creating healthier, more nutrient-dense food for pets while also reducing the environmental impact of producing pet food.
This commitment to regenerative agriculture is just one part of our pledge to make the world a better place for future pets and pet parents.
If you’re looking for sustainable dog food, there’s nothing that compares to our Sustain line. We have a variety of dry and wet foods that pack a nutritious, flavorful punch. As well as regeneratively farmed crops, we also use responsibly sourced proteins such as cage-free chicken, wild-caught Alaskan salmon and brewer’s yeast.
Try our Planet-Friendly Plant-Based Brewer's Yeast Recipe which contains all the essential amino acids your dog needs. Even the packaging helps reduce plastic waste: it’s made from 40% post-consumer recycled materials — the most you’ll see from any dog food brand.
If you’re looking for a guilt-free way to treat your pooch then try Sustain Jerky Treats: Free range Chicken Recipe. These delicious treats are made with free-range Animal Welfare Certified Level 2 chicken and wholesome sweet potatoes to fuel your dog throughout the day.
Shipping and transporting products also has a big impact on the environment. We try to keep our carbon pawprint low by making our recipes in the USA and using rail rather than trucks. If you’re looking for a locally made treat for your cat, try our new PURE 3-in-1 Goodness Freeze-Dried Raw Beef Liver.
Whichever of our mouth-watering pet food recipes you choose, you can count on our continued commitment to regenerative agriculture and the environment. Try our free quiz and find out which dog or cat food is right for your pet!