Occasionally, we stumble across things – good or bad – that have the potential to impact the world hugely. Last week, PJ and I were fortunate to trip over one of those big, world-changing rocks.
Each year (except for 2021), the Montana sector of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) hosts the Montana Soil Health Symposium. Because at Kimmel Ranch (where we source the beef for Wholesome Beef Direct) we strive to be at the forefront of soil health improvement on our operation, we’ve sponsored and attended this event since its inception.
The agenda this year consisted of familiar topics:
- farm and ranch management practices and presentations by producers who are focused on improving soil health in their corner of the globe (some are actually carbon-NEGATIVE enterprises),
- succession and business planning,
- grazing systems, fencing, and water development,
- soil dynamics and biology,
- how to achieve profitability in agriculture (don’t laugh, that’s not a typo),
- soil sample tests,
- epigenetics at the soil, animal, and human level.
But the most intriguing topic that kept arising over and over…food systems and how soil health directly translates to more nutritionally-dense foods for humans.
Huge paradigm shifts are occurring in agriculture, folks. Not everyone is on board, but the train is beginning to gain real steam. The potential exists to improve farm/ranch practices, changing consumer demands, and ultimately impact human health. That’s big stuff.
One of the keynote speakers on the topic was Dan Kittredge of the Bionutrient Foods Association out of Massachusetts. BFA is a non-profit organization whose mission is to increase quality in the food supply by linking consumers of food, growers of food, and purveyors of food. They partner with an impressive group of scientists, researchers, and partners across many industries to accomplish their goals. (See more at Bionutrient Food Association)
The piece of the presentation that is the most intriguing to us at Wholesome Beef Direct is the concept of a handheld spectrometer that can be made available to consumers to analyze food nutrient quality. A simple point-and-shoot tool reports the nutrition levels of any scanned piece of food. The second prototype of the device is available, and yes, ours is on order, and we became a member of BFA. We’re excited to support this idea and are also encouraged by the implemented open-source business model. In other words, once the technology is fully developed, ANYONE can build it, buy it, sell it or use it.
Knowledge is power. Imagine if the consumer were to drive the markets organically from the palm of their hand, rather than politicians, big corps, packers, feeders, pharma…literally, allowing folks to vote with their grocery dollars at the point of purchase. Of course, many other factors will come into play for dietary nutrition after this becomes accessible. But with true transparency and competition in the marketplace, there is hope for farming/ranching to be done right with more incentive and profit for grass-roots producers and to create huge shifts for the next generations.