The Impact Biodiversity has on Your Health
Many people are unaware of how important biodiversity is to our ecosystems, food, and communities. Biodiversity, is the biological variety of all life on earth. It encompasses the genetic variety of plants and animals, services connections between ecosystems, and supports cultural diversity. Humans rely on biodiversity for a multitude of basic needs such as nutritious food, clean water, and shelter. According to the World Health Organization, biodiversity loss is occurring at alarming rates due to deforestation, urbanization, mono-crop farming, poaching and wildlife trading. The loss of biodiversity not only reduces our access to the natural resources, it also increases our risk for viral disease breakouts, climate change, and loss of cultural symbols (1, 2).
At Nutrition for Longevity (N4L) we understand how valuable biodiversity is for the health and beauty of our planet. Through regenerative farming, meal kit composition, and community outreach, we cultivate biodiversity at every level of our supply chain.
Cultivating Biodiversity on the Farm
Agro-biodiversity refers to the diversity of life on the farm that contributes to agricultural and food production (3). In other words, the greater the diversity on the farm, the more productive and sustainable the farm can be. The conversion of natural landscapes into pastures, and mono-crop farms threatens agro-biodiversity, and more specifically, soil quality (4).
Did you know there are more micro-organisms in a spoonful of soil than there are people on earth? The number of diverse micro-organisms is a key indicator of soil fitness – the ability to grow plants, produce crops, and sustain wildlife habitats (5). Enhancing biodiversity in soil, is one of the main goals of regenerative farming a farming system focused on rehabilitating and revitalizing the soil we use to grow our food (6).
Some of the regenerative farming practices Nutrition for Longevity uses to restore biodiversity on our farm include:
- Crop Variety – we grow over 100 variety of crops on the farm
- No Synthetic Chemicals - eliminate anti-microbials such as pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and other volatile compounds that destroy the natural relationship between microorganism and plant roots.
- Crop Rotation –rotate crop varieties strategically so the unique sugars released form each crop through its roots can feed diverse microorganisms in the soil.
- Composting Bioreactors – combine decaying organic material with an abundance of microorganisms that will transform organic matter into nutrients plants can use to grow.
- No-Till Farming - no ploughing to avoid disrupting the soil microbiome
- Livestock – encourage animals to graze on crop cover to regenerate the soil with natural fertilizer
- Cover Crops –cover fields in the off season with crops like sun flowers and clovers to reduce soil erosion, prevent soil nutrients from washing away, and increase water infiltration into the soil.
- Pollinators – encourage animals such as bees, beetles, butterflies or birds to assist with pollination of plants on the farm.
Diversifying Your Diet
According to the USDA, Americans should consume at least 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day depending on their age, gender, and size. The unfortunate, reality is, only 1 in 10 Americans consume this much produce daily (7). Several studies that have shown that diets high in fruits, vegetables, fiber and phytochemicals can reduce the risk of some cancers as well as heart disease (8,9,10).
Mono-cropping and urban development are two major contributors to the lack of diversity in the Standard American Diet (SAD). Without a variety of foods in your diet, your body is deprived of essential nutrients that keep you healthy. Combined with the unlimited access to processed foods filled with excess sugar, sodium and trans-fat, the SAD is driving American health toward the diseases our food could be saving us from.
To address the nutritional deficiencies in today’s commercially grown produce, N4L’s mission is to revolutionize Fast Food. Our 3-Day Meal Kit Deliveries ship colorful, nutritious meals to your door within 48 hours of harvest on our farm. This makes it convenient to diversify your plate and your palette. Our team of dietitians and chefs ensure that each day’s worth of food includes >10 servings of colorful fruits and vegetables so you can fill your body with the nutrients it needs to live a long, healthy life.
Bringing Biodiversity to Your Community
Access to healthy food is a fundamental determinant of health. Biodiversity loss impacts food availability, food safety, and dietary quality, which ultimately impacts the health status of our community (11).
14.3 million American households are food insecure; meaning they lack access to adequate nutritious food (12). Most of these households are in rural and low-income urban areas that lack biodiversity. Rural neighborhoods face issues with pesticides, and mono-crop farming. Urban communities face over paving fertile land and pollution.
To increase biodiversity, N4L is expanding our regenerative farms throughout the United States. Each new farm will give us an opportunity to ship more locally to rural and urban communities. They will also serve as outdoor classrooms to increase awareness of biodiversity, regenerative farming, and healthy eating in the community. Although COVID-19 prevents us from hosting in-person events at our farms, we encourage all of our customers to connect with our Registered Dietitians virtually. Sign up here for your complimentary nutrition consult to learn about regenerative farming, and how our meal kits can enhance your health.
To be healthy, we must prioritize the diversity of our ecosystems, food, and communities. Biodiversity is embedded into N4L’s mission: revolutionize fast food. From regenerative farming, to meal kit composition and nutrition education, we hope to be a leader in sustainable food systems.
- Shaw, B. J. (2018, November 15). Why is biodiversity important?Conservation International. https://www.conservation.org/blog/why-is-biodiversity-important?gclid=CjwKCAjwjqT5BRAPEiwAJlBuBS-KH171O9oCdWVFlH7mjo3biN9ljUnHKaLpvDvb_-8SiUfMDpeYhhoCZWgQAvD_BwE
- World Health Organization: WHO. (2015, June 3). Biodiversity and Health. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/biodiversity-and-health
- What is Agricultural Biodiversity?(2008, April 23). Convention on Biological Diversity. https://www.cbd.int/agro/whatis.shtml
- World Health Organization. (2020). Guidance on Mainstreaming Biodiversity for Nutrition and Health. https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/guidance-mainstreaming-biodiversity-for-nutrition-and-health
- Soil Quality. (1995). United States Department of Agriculture - National Resources Conservation Service. https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/national/technical/nra/rca/?cid=nrcs143_014198
- Regenerative Organic Agriculture. (2019, February 19). Rodale Institute. https://rodaleinstitute.org/why-organic/organic-basics/regenerative-organic-agriculture/
- Lee-KWAN sh, Moore LV, Blanck HM, Harris DM, Galuska D. Disparities in State-Specific Adult Fruit and Vegetable Consumption – United States, 2015. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2017;66:1241-1247. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6645a1external icon
- Wang X, Ouyang Y, Liu J, Zhu M, Zhao G, Bao W, Hu FB. Fruit and vegetable consumption and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer: systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. BMJ. 2014 Jul 29;349:g4490.
- Hung HC, Joshipura KJ, Jiang R, Hu FB, Hunter D, Smith-Warner SA, Colditz GA, Rosner B, Spiegelman D, Willett WC. Fruit and vegetable intake and risk of major chronic disease. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 2004 Nov 3;96(21):1577-84.
- He FJ, Nowson CA, Lucas M, MacGregor GA. Increased consumption of fruit and vegetables is related to a reduced risk of coronary heart disease: meta-analysis of cohort studies. Journal of human hypertension. 2007 Sep;21(9):717.
- Determinants of Health. (n.d.). Retrieved August 24, 2020, from https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/about/foundation-health-measures/Determinants-of-Health
- Food Security Status of U.S. Households in 2018. Food Security in the U.S. United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Services https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/food-security-in-the-us/key-statistics-graphics.aspx. Accessed June 16, 2020.