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Open the Podcasts app and search for The Doctor’s Farmacy. If you’re viewing this site on your phone, you can just tap on the

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Episode 146
The Doctor's Farmacy

Can Regenerative Agriculture Really Heal Humans And The Planet?

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The argument that is often made against organic farming is that it can’t feed the world. Opponents say it can’t be scaled to the level we need to feed our current and growing population, but the real data actually says otherwise. 

The Rodale Institute is leading the way when it comes to research in the area of regenerative agriculture. Their work over the last 40 years shows organic agriculture leads to equal or better yields than conventional (sometimes over 30% better) with less energy use and three to six times more profits for the farmer. And they’re not the only ones who’ve found this to be true—it’s been repeated in five different studies from various universities and the USDA. 

Today on The Doctor’s Farmacy, I’m thrilled to sit down with Jeff Tkach to talk about the amazing work the Rodale Institute has done and is continuing to do to further the cause of regenerative agriculture. 

I’ve followed the Rodale Institute since I was a teenager and have stayed a loyal fan over the years. J.I. Rodale paved the way for the concept of agriculture that mimics nature, and his equation was that healthy soil = healthy food = healthy people, something that still adds up today. 

Jeff and I talk about the essential work Rodale has done since 1947 and how they are still an integral part of the current regenerative agriculture movement. We talk about turning the system upside down by connecting doctors with farmers as well as why our agricultural policies are in desperate need of an update and how we’re moving them in a better direction. 

People often wonder if organic is worth the extra cost. Jeff shares the most current research comparing organic produce to conventional (hint: organic carrots had dramatically higher levels of phytonutrients) and the exciting discoveries he expects we’ll continue to see in the next 40 years. 

Regenerative agriculture is the answer to better food, a cleaner environment, and healthier people. I hope you’ll tune in to learn more.

I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as I did. Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD
Mark Hyman, MD

In this episode, you will learn (video / audio):

  1. How the Rodale Institute came to look at the linkages between healthcare and health
    (4:43 / 9:18)
  2. The meaning of regenerative healthcare
    (8:43 / 13:18)
  3. Our societal and governmental disconnect between agriculture and human health
    (13:06 / 17:41)
  4. Rodale’s research on regenerative organic farming practices
    (17:14 / 21:49)
  5. The Farming Systems Trial, a 40-year side by side comparison of organic vs conventional grain production methods, and the creation of the USDA’s organic standard
    (19:47 / 24:22)
  6. The benefits of feeding the world using organic farming methods
    (24:04 / 29:22)
  7. Is organic food more nutritious?
    (25:33 / 30:51)
  8. Are the chemicals and pesticides in conventional foods harmful or harmless?
    (35:18 / 40:36)
  9. Evolving beyond the current organic standard with the launch of the Regenerative Organic Certification
    (39:02 / 44:20)
  10. Are animals needed in regenerative agriculture?
    (50:31 / 55:49)

Guest

 
Mark Hyman, MD

Mark Hyman, MD is the Founder and Director of The UltraWellness Center, the Head of Strategy and Innovation of Cleveland Clinic's Center for Functional Medicine, and a 13-time New York Times Bestselling author.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.

 
Jeff Tkach

Jeff Tkach serves as the Chief Impact Officer for the Rodale Institute. Jeff is responsible for expanding Rodale Institute’s global influence in healing people and the planet by unlocking the transformational power of regenerative organic agriculture. Jeff served on the Rodale Institute’s Board of Directors in 2016, where he was instrumental in fostering relationships between the organization and business leaders in the organic food industry.

Show Notes

  1. Rodale Institute’s white paper, “The Power of the Plate: The Case for Regenerative Organic Agriculture in Improving Human Health”
  2. Learn more about the Regenerative Organic Certification

Transcript

Jeff Tkach:
We’ve shown that these organic methods actually outperform conventional. So, whenever you hear people ask the question, “Can organic truly feed the world?” Our response would be how could it not? I mean, the data is that clear.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Welcome to The Doctor’s Farmacy. I’m Dr. Mark Hyman, and that’s Farmacy with an F. Farmacy, a place for conversations that matter. If you’ve been hearing about this whole movement of regenerative agriculture and wondering what the heck it is and why we should care, and how it actually even links up to healthcare, this is the podcast you should listen to carefully because it’s with none other than Jeff Tkach, who is the Chief Impact Officer for Rodale Institute.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Now, Rodale Institute has been around for a long time. I’ve been a huge follower, and fan, and proponent of the Rodale Institute since I was a teenager. I think I found out about it when I was about 18 or 19 studying in college at Cornell. And I, in fact, had read Organic Gardening Magazine and I’d studied biological agriculture, and I was just a huge fan of the work they were doing.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And it was back in the day when this was really fringe and no one was really talking about it. It was a bunch of hippies on the back-to-the-land movement, but it actually started in 1947 and I’m going to ask Jeff to talk about the origins of the Rodale Institute and what they’re doing and how important an organization it is and how much it’s been a leader in helping us understand the value of agriculture that mimics nature which is what we’re going to be talking about today.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So Jeff is responsible for expanding Rodale Institute’s global influence and healing people and the planet by unlocking the power of regenerative agriculture and regenerative organic agriculture. It’s really transformational. And he’s leading their institute strategies, overseeing opportunities for partnership with various businesses that drive positive outcomes. And it’s an incredible non-profit organization.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
They recently released an incredible white paper called The Power of the Plate: The Case for Regenerative Organic Agriculture in Improving Human Health. Now, that is a very interesting title because you don’t really link up agriculture and healthcare very often in conversations, and certainly in Cleveland Clinic and everywhere else I’ve worked in healthcare, doctors don’t talk about farming. It might be nice to get some fresh vegetables and eat good food, but that’s about the extent of it.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
But there is enormous link between agriculture and healthcare, and we need to draw that out today. That’s the conversation we’re going to have. So, welcome to The Doctor’s Farmacy podcast, Jeff.

Jeff Tkach:
Thank you so much, Dr. Hyman. It’s a real honor to be here today.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So, I actually saw in The Power of The Plate, this wonderful white paper, I saw some incredible quotes that I’ve used in all of my books over the years. Not all of these quotes in every book, but in my books are these quotes that you have at the beginning of the white paper, which really have guided me in my thinking. The first is, of course, by Hippocrates, which is let thy food be medicine and thy medicine be thy food, which is, eat your medicine, basically. Food is medicine, what a concept. And that’s about a couple of thousand years ago.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And then second quote is one that was really impactful for me and has really led my thinking over the last 30, 40 years, I guess, 40 years now, thinking about the interconnections and the systemic nature of our problems. And it was in a book that I read called Soil and Health by Sir Albert Howard. It’s written in 1947 about the importance of soil health. And he was really the father of organic agriculture. I guess Rodale Institute started back then too, so maybe they were all in it together.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
The quote said basically the whole problem of health in soil, plant, animal and human, obviously he said man, but I will say human, is one great subject. So, the whole problem of health in soil, plants, animals, and humans is one great subject. And that’s a really important thing because our health is connected to the health of the soil, and we’re going to get into why that’s so important, and also the health of our animals and everything else.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And the last quote is by one of my heroes Wendell Berry, who’s a Kentucky farmer, poet, philosopher who said, “People are fed by the food industry which pays no attention to health and are treated by the health industry which pays no attention to food.” So, that’s why we’re in the pickle we’re in because we have ignored those three ideas. That, one, food is medicine, that two, everything’s connected in soil and health and human and plant, and that food, and agriculture, and health all needed to be connected, which is really why we’re in the pickle we’re in because we aren’t connecting the dots here.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So, Jeff, tell us how you guys came to write this Power of the Plate white paper, and why it’s such an important statement right now, and how you came to understand that even though you were an agricultural research company or nonprofit, that it was so critical to look at healthcare and the linkages to healthcare and health.

Jeff Tkach:
Yeah. Yeah. That is a huge question. You actually couldn’t have led with a more important question than that one. And in order to answer that, you have to go all the way back to our origins, which was the thesis in which J.I. Rodale launched the Rodale Institute. So, what’s interesting is that J.I. Rodale was not a farmer. He was the furthest thing from a farmer. He was actually a businessman, an entrepreneur from New York City who in the 1930s, built some wealth with, he and his brother started a manufacturing company.

Jeff Tkach:
And growing up in lower Manhattan, J.I. Rodale noticed something. He came from a low-income family in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. And he noticed that when people began to acquire wealth, they tend to do two things, they buy art and they buy a farm.

Jeff Tkach:
And so, lo and behold, in the 1930s, he and his brother began accumulating some wealth. And so, one weekend, J.I. and his wife and kids packed up the car and drove out in New York City to Eastern Pennsylvania where I’m located and they purchased a 40 acre farm. Now, J.I. Rodale never farmed a day in his life. So, what he did was he went to the local university here in Pennsylvania, it’s Penn State, which is our land-grant university, and all the advice that he was getting from the land-grant, which of course that was right about the time that the industrial agricultural revolution really began.

Jeff Tkach:
And so all the advice he was getting from Penn State, likely funded by big ag was, “Okay J.I., if you want to know about how to farm, it’s really simple. What you do is you go out and you buy these things called inputs. And you bring them onto your land and you apply them to your soil and that’s how you grow food. And J.I. Rodale, I can almost imagine him, the more he thought about it, that idea actually made sense because he owned a manufacturing company. What do you do when you want to make a really good product? You have to bring the highest quality inputs into your factory. And that’s how you create something that’s worth high value.

Jeff Tkach:
But the more he thought about it, he said to himself, “Can someone please explain to me what alchemy, what magic happens in the soil that would turn toxic pesticides and chemical inputs into healthy food?” And of course, no one could answer that question. So, that was really the light bulb moment that set him on his own quest. And of course, he was very heavily influenced by Sir Albert Howard over in the United Kingdom and Lady Balfour. He also went to India and other parts of the world to study agriculture.

Jeff Tkach:
But J.I. Rodale is really credited as being the pioneer of the organic food movement here in North America. And his thesis, he wrote these words on a chalkboard in May of 1942. He said that healthy soil, equals healthy food, equals healthy people. And I think what he was really saying was that our job as farmers is not to produce food, our job as farmers is to produce healthy people. And that was such a radical concept then and I think still is today. And what ultimately led Rodale Institute in 2020 to author a white paper around agriculture and human health was that doctors don’t talk to farmers, farmers don’t talk to doctors. And how can we leverage this piece of science to begin a conversation? And that was really our goal.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s great. I mean, it reminds me of how I began to think about the Doctor’s Farmacy podcast, because I wanted to talk, as a doctor, to farmers and chefs and people involved with food because it’s just an absent conversation most of the time in healthcare. And in the white paper, you documented something that I had never really read before, which was a phrase that is so self-evident and obvious that it makes so much sense.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And it’s something nobody really talks about, which is regenerative healthcare. We talk about regenerative agriculture, but no one’s really talked about regenerative healthcare. And you bring this concept to the forefront and you talk about the need to actually understand the linkages between healthy soil, healthy food, healthy people. It’s a very simple equation like you said and it’s so important. So, talk about what do you mean when you talk about regenerative healthcare? Because I don’t think anybody really has heard that term before. I certainly hadn’t heard it in that construct.

Jeff Tkach:
Yeah. Well, from our ideology at Rodale Institute, I think the same principles apply to regenerative agriculture and regenerative healthcare. And the word regenerative as it’s used in agriculture was coined by Robert Rodale, which was J.I.’s son. So J.I. Rodale is credited with coining the term organic as it’s used today in agriculture. His son, Robert, began to travel the world in the 1970s and he was studying agricultural systems particularly in third world areas and he saw that those systems were fundamentally broken.

Jeff Tkach:
And it was right around the time that the word sustainability was coming into vogue and Bob Rodale despised that word. He thought it was such a terrible choice of words. He said, as he would travel through parts of Africa and Asia, he would say to himself, “What here is worth sustaining?”

Jeff Tkach:
And so he began to use this word regenerative because he felt that if we focus all of our efforts and energies on the soil as farmers, if we improve the health of the soil, guess what? The nutrient uptake of the crops in which the crops are grown gets more nutrient dense. The crops become healthier. The people consuming that food get healthier, the farmer, he or she become more financially lucrative. The entire community gets better and better and better over time.

Jeff Tkach:
And we believe the same applies to healthcare. If we can begin to create a conversation with doctors and we began to see themselves as having a direct link to farmers, and we began to look at food as medicine as the first line of offense in our healthcare strategy, then we can begin to regenerate humans. Chronic illness and chronic obesity and all the epidemics that are bankrupting this country in particular can begin to reverse simply by what we put on our plate. Climate change could begin to be solved for, everything in the entire system can begin to get turned upside down simply by beginning doctors to see themselves through a new lens, which is doctors’ jobs is to connect their patients with farmers and with healthy food. And that’s really our ideology around this idea of regenerative healthcare.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s great. I mean, I worked at Cleveland Clinic and we’ve talked to some of the people involved in environmental health and other issues there. And we talked about putting, for example, a rooftop farm, there’s acres of rooftops on Cleveland clinic. How do we just put every building have a rooftop farm, how do we connect local farmers to create food service for the hospital and for the patients and for the people there?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So, I think there’s a real openness to this. Maybe we should be having, inside the hospitals, teaching kitchens on every floor so that patients, as they’re recovering, can learn how to cook the food that’s going to help them heal instead of being served the most [inaudible 00:11:50]. I was in a hospital in New York and I had a back surgery few months ago and I ended up getting a breakfast, woke up from the surgery, got this breakfast on my plate that I just was, “What the heck is this?”

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And it was basically Cheerios. It was French toast with corn syrup, fake maple syrup. It was orange juice, which was pure sugar. It had a muffin, which again was just pure sugar, a banana, which was okay, but it’s still pretty sugary. And there was nothing on there that was actually good, or healing, or would help support, in any way, my recovery. It was an inflammatory, toxic, processed, sugar-filled mess. And I would have felt horrible if I ate it. I literally woke up in the morning from surgery and it was sitting there on my side of the table. And I was like, “What the heck is going on here?”

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Sadly that we don’t link these things up as connected. We don’t understand that our healthcare costs are being driven by the fact that we’re not paying attention to what we grow and how we grow it. And I think if you actually go back to what you just said, the simple idea that agriculture should be focused on producing food that’s healthy for humans is such a radical notion right now, because most of the food that’s produced is not healthy for humans, right? It’s industrial process food, it’s corn, wheat, and soy. It’s a few commodity crops that are grown in ways that are destructive for the soil, destructive for the environment, climate and human health. And we really haven’t made those connections. It’s not self-evident to most people.

Jeff Tkach:
No, no. And we know from our work, because we spend a lot of time in Washington, DC, that the Secretary of Health and Human Services literally sits at the opposite end of the table in meetings with the Secretary of Agriculture. They don’t even correspond with one another. And so, talk about a divorce from true health. We’re so disconnected from where our food comes from and how it’s produced that the notion of using agriculture as a tool to improve human health is such a radical idea, yet it’s so simple.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. It’s so funny. It reminds me of a conference I went to. It was a Time Magazine ABC conference in, I think, 2002 in Williamsburg, Virginia. And on stage was Tommy Thompson, who at the time was the Secretary of Health and Human Services under George W. Bush. And I got up in the audience, I asked him, “Hey, have you ever talked to the Secretary of Agriculture to coordinate policies around food and health and agriculture?”

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And he looked to me like I just had had this Eureka moment like, “Wow, what a novel idea. No, actually haven’t but thanks for suggesting that.” And I was like, “Whoa,” I’m like, “What is going on here?” So we’re all so disconnected from what’s going on. And unfortunately, agricultural policies are pretty scary. You talk a lot in your report about the lack of even ability of Americans to eat good food if they wanted to. That less than 1% of adolescents could eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables, about 2% of women, and about 2% of men, and about 3% of women eat the recommended amount of vegetables.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And that even if we wanted to, we only grow 3% of our agricultural lands growing vegetables and fruits, what we call specialty crops. So, even if we wanted to, we couldn’t actually follow the recommendations that the government has for us to eat five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day. So, it’s kind of a big joke. In one hand, the agriculture department says, eat this, on the other hand, they fund a different form of agriculture.

Jeff Tkach:
Absolutely. We’re not even producing food in this country. Actually Rodale Institute has a new campus in Iowa. We’ve started the satellite campuses because we’re trying to serve the role of what the land-grant universities should be doing but aren’t, and that is helping farmers transition to these regenerative practices. So, we are self-funding more, we’re establishing sites, one in Atlanta, Georgia, one in Ventura, California, and one in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Jeff Tkach:
And so, we went to the three most agriculturally-challenged parts of the United States with the goal of setting up research there and literally opening our doors wide open to farmers to come and get advice. And the reason we chose Iowa is because we were so struck by such an alarming statistic that says that I think it’s something like 98% of every crop grown in Iowa doesn’t stay in Iowa.

Jeff Tkach:
So, they’re like one of the largest ag states in the country, if not the largest. And if you are a resident of Iowa, you literally can’t buy organic food or you have to look really hard and drive really far. So, not only are we there trying to help with these launch commodities, [inaudible 00:16:38] regenerative organic practices, but we’re also trying to solve for the food deserts that exist in this state that is so agriculturally blessed yet aren’t producing real food that you and I would put on our plate.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, I mean, people don’t realize this, but farmers don’t grow food that they eat. Farmers in the old days used to grow food for their community and the town and so forth. And now they grow food that isn’t edible by them. And they don’t even have gardens and they have to buy their food in the grocery store like everybody else, which leads to the fact that a lot of farmers are really not that healthy anymore.

Jeff Tkach:
Right. Right.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So, let’s talk a little bit about the research that the Rodale Institute has done, because over the years, it’s has been a fair bit of criticism about organic agriculture, it’s really not better for you, it doesn’t really matter if you eat organic or not, the nutrient density isn’t different, the toxin levels aren’t really that different. And a lot of the data that’s come out around that, and there was a big study from Stanford years ago.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Who’s funding the study? There are usually groups like The American Council on Science and Health, which is a front group for the food industry and the ag industry, so you have to really look carefully. But lately there’s been a tremendous amount of research on this. Rodale has really been at the leading edge of this. So, let’s talk about first Rodale’s research about the benefits of organic. And now we’re going to move into even a more, I think, advanced phase of agriculture, which didn’t really exist before, which is this notion of regenerative, which takes organic a step further.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
How has that research, the trials that you’ve done as part of the other Rodale Institute that have been going on for decades. The Farming Systems Trial, The Vegetable Systems Trial, The Watershed Impact Trial, these are large studies that you’ve been doing the hard work of deep science looking at, what are the arguments? Can you grow food with less inputs? Can you make better yields? What is the resistance to drought? What is the nutrient density of the food? Tell us about these studies and what we can learn from them.

Jeff Tkach:
Sure. Absolutely. So let’s start with the origins of the studies, because I think it’s important for your audience to hear this. At the heart of who we are, Rodale Institute is a research organization. We’re a team. We have about 10 PhD scientists, and about 65 employees. But at the heart of everything we do, it’s about science. And if you ever come and visit our global headquarters in Pennsylvania, it’s a 333 acre farm, but we actually call that farm a living laboratory.

Jeff Tkach:
It has about 26 active research projects going on at any given time. And what those studies are ultimately doing is they’re looking to do the science necessary to create best practice for farmers all over the world to adopt these regenerative organic practices. So, we are the only privately held research entity of its kind in the world. You would think that that research is going on everywhere, but it’s sadly not going on, if anywhere.

Jeff Tkach:
And if you go back to the late 1970s, I mentioned Robert Rodale, he was our second generation leader. And he, and you and others were going back and forth to Washington, D.C. in the late seventies, early eighties, trying to lobby our government to create an organic standard. And Robert Rodale essentially got laughed out of the room when he went in front of Congress and asked for a standard around organic agriculture and they thought he was, frankly, they thought he was nuts.

Jeff Tkach:
And they said, “Bob, if you want us to create policy around this idea of organic, which is really just an idea, show us the science.” And so, he accepted the challenge and he marched back to Pennsylvania and self-funded a study, which is now a 40 year study called The Farming Systems Trial. It’s the longest running, side-by-side comparison of organic and conventional grain production in the world.

Jeff Tkach:
So, it’s a 12 acre 72 plots study, randomized plots that some of the plots were literally replicating large scale industrial corn, and soy, and wheat, and oats agriculture, grown directly next to plots that are farmed organically using regenerative methods. Some of those plots are using cover crops, some of them are using more leguminous-type nitrogen sources, some are using manure.

Jeff Tkach:
So, what we’re trying to do is replicate large-scale farming and compare it to a couple of novel, organic approaches. And by the way, by 1990, that study produced enough evidence to convince our federal government to pass the National Organic Production Act. And ultimately, it was that science which now allows you and I, when we go to the grocery store and you see that little USDA organic logo?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. Yeah.

Jeff Tkach:
Yeah. That never would have happened if it wasn’t for Bob having the courage to do that study.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s incredible. And so, what did they find in that research?

Jeff Tkach:
Sure. So, in that research, over the course of 40 years, we’ve found that organic agriculture drives about three times, I’m sorry, we drive about the same yields as conventional, except for in years of extreme drought or extreme rain, which we’re experiencing more and more of that kind of weather in recent years. In years of extreme drought and rain, we’re finding up to 31% increase in yields in the organic plots. We’re also using about 45% less energy in the organic systems. And I think maybe one of the most notable statistics is that we’re driving between three and six times more profit for the farmer through these regenerative and organic practices.

Jeff Tkach:
So, that data began to shore up within about 5 to 10 years of doing that study which is what gave our government enough confidence in the standard. And because others may have not maybe trusted Rodale, that science has actually been replicated in five other places around the United States. So, there’s three other universities as well as our very own USDA, they’ve all created similar studies. But ours is the longest running.

Jeff Tkach:
And over that 40 year period, we’ve shown that these organic methods actually outperform conventional. So, whenever you hear people ask the question, “Can organic truly feed the world?” Our response would be, how could it not? I mean, the data is that clear?
Speaker 3:
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Dr. Mark Hyman:
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Speaker 3:
Now back to this week’s episode.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So, just let me recap, because this is a staggering of what you’re saying. Because the argument is that organic is nice, it’s aspirational, not really scalable, doesn’t produce the same yields, isn’t as resistant to the adversities of farming as conventional agriculture. And we really can’t feed the world using these methods. But what you’re saying is, not only can we feed the world, but we probably can feed the world better. So the yields aren’t any less, and sometimes if you actually add the regenerative component, they can be a lot more.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
You actually use far less energy, less inputs, agricultural chemicals, seeds, pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides, which all have downstream horrible consequences. The farmers make far more money. And the two things you didn’t mention, which I think are worth mentioning are that it actually helps to draw down carbon out of the atmosphere and act as a carbon sink. And it also, besides the water issue, it produces more nutrient-dense food. So, I want to get into that a little bit. Let’s talk about the nutritional density of the food, and then we’ll get into the whole contamination, chemicals and risks and so forth, and some of the studies on that. Because I think that there’s really question of, is it any better, is it just more expensive? Okay, maybe there’s a little less pesticides, but how much better is it really for you?

Jeff Tkach:
So, in order to answer this question around nutrient density, let’s turn our attention to the vegetable systems trial, which is one of the newest studies at Rodale Institute. We’re in our fourth year, and this study is really serving to answer the question, is organic food truly worth the extra premium? Is it truly more nutritious? And this is the first study of its kind in the world. That is where we literally have organically-grown vegetables done in a regenerative way, grown side-by-side with conventionally grown vegetables, where we’re literally applying herbicide and pesticides on certain plots.

Jeff Tkach:
And over time, we’re beginning to study the nutrient differences and the nutrient density uptake in either of those two systems. And would you believe that early data, in just one or two years, we’ve already seen a pretty dramatic difference in nutrient density, specifically in carrots, if you look at carotenoids in carrots, we’re seeing a much higher percentage of phytonutrients in the regeneratively grown carrots.

Jeff Tkach:
And so, this is a study, again, that we hope to do for 40 more years, because you have to understand doing research in agriculture it takes time. And very few people want to commit time and money. The average PhD student going through their research at a university, they have three years to do science. Well, how do you speed up biology? We can’t force nature. And so, why Rodale science is so unique is that we’re committed to it, not just for years, but for decades. So, if we’re already beginning to find a stark difference in nutrient density of phytonutrients in carrots after one or two years, what are we going to see in 3 years, 5 years or 10 years? And so, we’re really excited about this work.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Now, can you explain why? Why would organic carrots be better than regular conventional carrots? What’s the science behind why there’s more phytochemicals, more vitamins, more minerals? How did that happen?

Jeff Tkach:
Sure. Our hypothesis on that would go back to how we treat the soil. So, soil health is really going to be foundational to the plant’s ability to uptake nutrients. How we manage the soil, the type of cover crops that we use leading up to whatever cash crop is being planted, we can actually impact biology simply by what we plant in the off season as a cover crop. In addition, pesticides and herbicides are killing the microbiological life in that soil.

Jeff Tkach:
So, what our science is showing is that when you apply herbicides and pesticides, you’re killing all the life in the soil. There’s something like 10 billion microorganisms in just one teaspoon of healthy soil. So, as we begin to decimate the microbiome of that soil by what we apply to it or by how we treat it through too much tillage, by not establishing a cover crop, by not creating biodiversity in and around whatever we’re growing, all those factors are what we believe are impacting the nutrient density of that food.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. And I think one of the things people don’t realize is that soil is not just a medium dirt to grow plants in. That it’s actually alive. And that the life in the soil is what allows the plants to extract from the soil the nutrients that it needs to grow and flourish.

Jeff Tkach:
That’s exactly right.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And certain things like glyphosate or Roundup, which is a weed killer, it’s on 70% of our crops. We’re going to talk a lot about that, but that actually is a mineral chelator, which means that it binds to minerals like manganese, and selenium, and magnesium, and it prevents these nutrients from being taken up by the plant. It also kills the mycorrhizal fungi, which are a web of fungi within the soil that are critical for the overall life and health of the soil that allows so many of the nutrients to get taken up into the plants.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So, it’s a really complex web of connections. It drives these nutrient-dense results in these plants. And we see this in wild plants have far more nutrients than conventional plants. For example, if you take a wild crab apple is got way, way more phytonutrients than a regular apple, or if you have dandelion greens versus iceberg lettuce, or if you have a Peruvian wild potato compared to a Yukon, Idaho potato or something. They’re very, very different levels of nutrient and phytonutrients. And so, organic is also providing that and I think regenerative goes even a step further.

Jeff Tkach:
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, there’s actually something called the shikimate pathway, which is the nutrient uptake system that is built in to every plant. And the way Roundup is designed, Roundup is the chemical you just alluded to. It’s ubiquitous in our food system. It literally stunts that shikimate pathway. So, it literally inhibits the plant’s ability to uptake nutrients. Now, how backward is that thinking that we would apply a chemical that literally inhibits the plant’s ability to uptake nutrients?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And you know why it’s so important is, even if you’re eating vegetables and you’re trying to eat a plant-rich diet, if you’re eating traditional food, you’re actually getting far less nutrients than you did 50 years ago. We have far less levels of magnesium, zinc, all the incredible, important nutrients that we need to function as human beings we are depleted. And that’s why we see massive nutritional deficiency.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yes, it’s the junk food and the ultra-processed food, but it’s also the depletion of our soils where your broccoli and your vegetables have 50% less minerals and nutrients than they did 50 years ago. And what you’re seeing is organic and regenerative organic actually help to correct that and help to rebuild the soils which then helps the plants grow healthy, which then creates healthy humans. So, this whole healthy soil, healthy plants, healthy humans is such an important, simple idea, but it’s amazing how it’s ignored.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And our current agricultural system produces commodity crops that aren’t nutrient-dense. They’re bred for starch. They’re bred for yield. They’re bred for being able to be used in industrial food products. They’re not made to create healthy humans. And that is such an aha for me. When you think, “Gee, if we can have one guiding principle in our entire federal policy and state and agricultural policies, it should be that quality is king.” The focus should be on the quality of the food and the nutrient density. And you can define quality in lots of different ways, particularly it’s around nutrient density, whether it’s phytonutrients, or vitamins and minerals, or other compounds that are really the things that give food it’s medicine.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And then we’ve literally bred all the medicine out of food. I mean, when you think of blue corn, Native American corn, how nutrient-dense it is, how low in starch and sugar it is and how many phytochemicals are in there and vitamins and minerals? And then when you take this modern corn that we’re eating, it’s all bred out of there. And it’s a great industrial product, but it’s not something you’d want to be eating.

Jeff Tkach:
Yeah. Can I tell you a quick story on that same line?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Jeff Tkach:
So, are you familiar with the Penn State Hershey Medical Center? I think they say it’s one of the largest cancer research universities or institutions in the United States. They just happened to be located about 50 miles from our headquarters. And a couple of researchers inside of Penn State Hershey Medical caught wind of the study that we just embarked on. So about two years ago, they caught wind of the vegetable systems trial.

Jeff Tkach:
At the same time, these researchers were studying in laboratories this particular amino acid called ergothioneine. Now, ergothioneine they were finding, they were isolating ergothioneine name in Petri dishes in a laboratory and researching its ability to kill cancer cells. And by the way, the highest amounts of ergothioneine are found in purple potatoes.

Jeff Tkach:
And what they were finding is that the ergothioneine was in some ways performing as effectively at killing cancer cells as chemotherapy, if not better in Petri dishes in this isolated environment. So, it led them to ask the question, well, where does ergothioneine come from? And they ultimately realized, oh, it’s synthesized in the soil. And what the research showed is that we have essentially farmed out, we’ve so degraded the levels of ergothioneine in our soil since 1960 using industrial approaches to agriculture that you and I aren’t getting it in our diet anymore.

Jeff Tkach:
And so, we’re now doing a bolt-on study inside of the vegetable systems trial along with our partners at Penn State. And we’re going to begin to do a soil to patient study, looking at how we can actually impact cancer patients using food, which is so radical, but we’ve so depleted this one amino acid that these researchers, their hypothesis is that the reason certain cancer rates are going so high is because we literally don’t have this immuno acid in our diet anymore. So, can you imagine if that’s just one amino acid, how much more we don’t know.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s right. I mean, that’s just one example of one compound in food that has profound effects. And when you think of all the things that we’ve lost, the biodiversity of our plants. I mean, we used to eat so many different plant species as hunters and gatherers, 800 different species of plants. Even a hundred years ago, there were hundreds and hundreds of apple species in America. Now there’s just a handful, right?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And the same with all these other fruits and vegetables. And I think that we’ve just bred into these mono-systems, even our modern tomatoes or our modern carrots, there’s all these homogenous foods that are bred for yield, and shelf stability, and storage, but have nothing to do with nutrient density. And I think that’s really what Rodale’s great accomplishment is, is to highlight that there is a way of farming that actually can create downstream benefits of producing more nutrient-dense food that is actually scalable, that is better for farmers, that’s better for the soil, that’s better for even the environment and climate.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So, I want to talk a little bit about the idea of the problems with the chemicals in agriculture, because in The Power of the Plate, you do talk about this. And there’s been studies that come out and say, “Oh, there’s no difference if organic or not, and pesticides, what’s the big deal?”

Dr. Mark Hyman:
But there’s been some recent studies that I’ve seen, and not necessarily from Rodale, but just large trials looking at organic versus non-organic dietary patterns and seeing reductions in cancer and other chronic illnesses. And also these are hormone disruptors, they’re endocrine disruptors, they drive infertility, and many other issues. So, can you talk a little bit about the distinguishing features between organic, and conventional, and these pesticides, and this controversy of organic not being really worth the money or not being really any different in terms of its pesticide or chemical content? I mean, the nutritional density, I think we’ve established, but this is the other argument against organic.

Jeff Tkach:
Yeah. Well, I mean, we have to look at data that is showing a before and after. Before the introduction of Roundup pre-1975, our chronic illness rates were tracking along almost like a flat and there was really not much of a curve. And then all of a sudden you see this dramatic inflection point around the year 1975 with the introduction of glyphosate with Roundup, that was the year it was patented.

Jeff Tkach:
And all of a sudden, we see auto-immune cancers, and other chronic illnesses, and diabetes and obesity just skyrocket. So, it almost seems like there was this smoking gun moment around the time of the introduction of this ubiquitous chemical as well as the sort of, I think it was right around the time Earl Butz, he started his rally cry, which was to go big or go home. And so we saw this explosion in industrial agriculture concurrent with this explosion in chronic illness. And so, Rodale-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Although I would say that there were a lot of factors going on at that time, so correlating glyphosate with the chronic disease epidemic is interesting, but we have to be careful about drawing causative ideas from correlations.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So, one of the other concerns is that some people think that the idea that organic foods are going to reduce your risk of cancer, are healthier for you, has really been debunked. But I think the data is far from clear on that. In fact, there are mountains of evidence that show that people who do eat organic foods, one, have lower levels of pesticides and chemicals in their urine. So their bodies have less of a burden of it. And two, there was a large study of 68,000 people published in JAMA Internal Medicine in 2019 that showed about a 25% reduction in people getting cancer for those who had higher levels of organic food in their diet.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So, I think that to think that these chemicals are not harmful when they’re literally toxic in parts per billion is just kind of silly. And I think that the question really we should be asking ourselves is, how do we design an agricultural system that’s good for the soil, that’s good for the plants, that’s good for the animals that we raise, that’s good for humans, that’s good for the environment, that’s good for climate, that’s good for the farmers? That’s really what we should be asking instead of having these debates.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And when you look at this notion of regenerative organic agriculture, it really seeks to solve that problem. So, talk about this new idea of the certification of regenerative organic and talk about the linkages to healthcare. Because this is a bridge you’re trying to create. And I would just love to understand more about how do we link regenerative healthcare and regenerative agriculture into one conversation?

Jeff Tkach:
Absolutely. Yeah, that’s a great question. It’s an exciting moment, I think, in history, because as I mentioned, Rodale Institute was largely involved in the establishment of the National Organic Production Act and the NOP, and the whole reason we have a USDA certification back in the year 2000 ultimately. But it’s sad to think that that standard, the organic standard, hasn’t been innovated in 20 years. I don’t know about you, but I’m a person that believes strongly in innovation and we haven’t really evolved that standard.

Jeff Tkach:
And as big food companies have moved into organic agriculture, we’ve actually seen, unfortunately, a slight watering down of that standard. And Rodale Institute among others have been very concerned as we’ve watched the introduction of the allowance of hydroponic growing and some other extreme measures to the organic standard. And so, we took it upon ourselves to work with a couple of partners to launch a new standard.

Jeff Tkach:
We’re working with partners like Patagonia and Dr. Bronner’s and about 22 other industry partners. And last year, we launched the regenerative organic certification, it’s a regenorganic.org. And that’s the newest high bar standard in agriculture. It’s the only standard of its kind that takes into account soil health. So, one of the pillars is soil health. How is the farmer treating the soil? How are they replenishing the nutrients of that soil? How are they building soil health on their farm?

Jeff Tkach:
The second pillar is around animal welfare. How are animals within those regenerative systems, how are those animals being treated? Are they raised 100% on pasture? Are they raised in a humane way? The current organic standard doesn’t account for that. And then thirdly, and maybe the most important and the one that’s really connected to human health is around human wellbeing. So, the third pillar is, how are the people working in those farming systems being treated? We really don’t do a good job of that in the current organic standard.

Jeff Tkach:
So, the regenerative organic certification, it’s the newest high bar standard, any brand that wants to become regenerative organic certified must at least meet the NOP standards. So they at least have to have their organic certification. But what we’re really trying to do here is push the bar even higher for our farmers across the globe to innovate and to move beyond and to continue to improve. It’s a mindset around continuous improvement.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So, is this going to be something that will be something you’ll see on your package?. Like if I want to buy regenerative food, how do I do that?

Jeff Tkach:
Yeah. Yeah. And you already can. So, just this past spring, a couple of partners launched their first product. So, you can now buy Dr. Bronner’s regenerative, organic coconut oil. You just look for the little regenerative organic certification on the front of that packaging. Patagonia is launching some regenerative organic cotton products. So you can now buy T-shirts that are regenerative organic certified. And there’s a whole pipeline of other products that are in the midst of being launched over the next couple of months and years. So, it’s very exciting.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So Rodale isn’t just a research Institute, you’re also out there in the real world partnering with companies and organizations to try to advance these ideas and make innovations. So, tell us about some of these collaborations and partnerships that you’ve really been involved with making happen.

Jeff Tkach:
Yeah, sure. We do everything we do in partnership. We’re a 65 person organization trying to change the world and you can’t do that in isolation. So, we are working very hard to partner with land-grant universities. We’ve established these satellite campuses around the United States with the goal of impacting agriculture in certain parts of the region and working with universities to teach them about regenerative organic practices.

Jeff Tkach:
We also have a very unique partnership here in the State of Pennsylvania with our governor of all things. Governor Wolf is now in his second term of office here in Pennsylvania. And a couple of years ago, he came across some data that was showing that Pennsylvania is now the number two producer of organic food in the nation, second only to California.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Wow.

Jeff Tkach:
And that data astonished him. He said to the Secretary of Agriculture, “How is it that we have over a thousand certified organic farms in this state while we’re using good taxpayer dollars to bail out failing conventional dairy farms? What if we began to move farms in this state towards organic practices?” And so, he partnered with, ultimately Rodale Institute formed a partnership with the Department of Agriculture.

Jeff Tkach:
And last year, governor Wolf passed the first ever statewide Farm Bill in the history of America. It’s a Farm Bill that’s at the state level that earmarked 22 million for organic transition. And some of that money came to Rodale to launch a consultancy. So, we now have a team of consultants here at our headquarters, and some of those consultants are also in our satellite campuses. And any farm in the State of Pennsylvania that wants to transition to organic gets free consulting under governor Wolf’s Farm Bill from Rodale Institute.

Jeff Tkach:
So, that launched last June, and in 13 months, I’m proud to say that we’re now working with over 90 farms in the Commonwealth that represent over 43,000 acres of land that will be transitioned over time. So, it’s an incredible model that started at the state level. And what’s really cool about this is that it’s gotten so much national attention from other departments of agriculture that there’s other governors calling governor Wolf, saying, “How do I replicate this in my state?”

Jeff Tkach:
So when you talk about partnership, Dr. Hyman, that’s a classic example of Rodale partnering with a government entity to create change. Which gives me a lot of hope to know that we can still work with our legislators to create positive change.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
But then this is really radical, because really there is no state policy for agriculture in most states, right? It’s all federal.

Jeff Tkach:
That’s correct. Yes. Yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And this is the first time there’s been a state Farm Bill?

Jeff Tkach:
Yeah. First time. Yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s extraordinary. And it seems like a model that other states could take the lead. And in a way it’s a lot easier to work at your state and local level than it is in a federal level. And I think that a lot more change can happen. So, people who want to be interested in this, it’s important to think about how do you become active and educating your lawmakers to move forward in these ideas. And it seems like he just didn’t know that this was going on as soon as he found out he was like, “Yeah, let’s do it.”

Jeff Tkach:
Yeah, that’s exactly right. And there’s some major initiatives. What’s really cool about this partnership is we’re now working with some for-profit food corporations that are headquartered here in the state with the goal of those corporations giving long-term contracts to these farmers that are raising their hands to transition to organic.

Jeff Tkach:
So, all of a sudden, if a farmer has the guidance and best practice of Rodale Institute holding their hand through the process, the backing of their state government, and then access to long-term markets, we’re really knocking down all the barriers that are inhibiting our farmers across this country from adopting regenerative practices. So, it’s a really exciting model that we think can be replicated all over the country.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, it’s an exciting moment, I think, and we’re breaking free from some of the old ideas that are really limiting us. And one of those is scale. This is not scalable, that the yields wouldn’t be there, that the quality isn’t as good. But you really are doing the hard science to show that it actually is quite different and it is doable and it’s scalable and it’s actually starting to happen, which is really exciting to me.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I just talked to a friend of mine who was talking to the CEO of General Mills and the CEO of Danone, which are these multi-billion dollar, multi-national corporations that we often vilify as big, bad food companies, but they’re seeing which way the wind’s blowing and they’re understanding that in order for their survival, they need to focus on modifying their supply chain so they can create food that’s going to be healthy, that’s going to actually be able to be grown. Because our current methods of farming are going to limit our ability to grow food in the future.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Food insecurity and food scarcity are a natural consequence of our current agricultural system. It’s like mining. You just keep mining the soil until there’s nothing left, and then you can’t get anything out anymore. So, regenerative agriculture is really the opposite of mining. It’s restoring.

Jeff Tkach:
Yeah. I think it takes something like a thousand years for nature to build one centimeter of healthy soil. Soil can be a renewable resource, but it takes time. And I think current estimates would suggest that if we continue to farm the way we farm using chemical, conventional approaches, we have something like 60 irritable growing seasons left on planet earth. So, there’s a real urgency to this, but I’m also very hopeful because mother nature has a very powerful way of healing herself. And we, as farmers, we can help her in the restoration.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I mean, when you think about it, you said one centimeter in a thousand years. That’s a long time, but with regenerative agriculture, farmers are doing far more than that. Gay Brown, who’s been on the podcast said that he created 29 inches of soil, not centimeters, over a few decades by using regenerative methods. So, we really have the technology, we have the science, we just need the political will, and we need to help farmers and bridge the gap.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And I think your ability to actually train farmers is so great. And I think that that’s an incredible bridge. And partnering with governments to fund that and large corporations to fund it, that’s what’s going to shift this. And that’s going to lead to a change in healthcare. Because once we start to recognize the linkages between health and healthcare and agriculture and food, everything’s going to change. But it’s a very tough bridge we’re able to make in their mind. And the connections are just not so self-evident to people, but when you lay it out, it’s so clear. And I encourage everybody to check out The Power of the Plate: The Case for Regenerative Organic Agriculture in Improving Human Health. And I think that this is a great title. Is there anything you’re excited about coming up that Rodale is doing that you’d like to share?

Jeff Tkach:
Yeah, absolutely. And it goes right to the reason why we authored this paper. J.I. Rodale, when he laid out that very eloquent thesis of healthy soil equals healthy food equals healthy people, I think we’ve done a lot of work over the last seven decades focusing on the soil health piece, and now in more recent years, the healthy food piece, but we really see the next frontier of our organization being around the human health linkage.

Jeff Tkach:
And we want to create a physical hub to house the conversation between the medical community and the agricultural community. And so, we are about to enter a very exciting time in our history. We’ve never done actual capital campaign before, but we have an actual goal, an organizational goal to build a physical building at our 333 acre campus and we’re going to call it The Regenerative Health Institute. This will be taking shape over the next two to three years.

Jeff Tkach:
And the goal is to create a physical place that can house the conversation for people like you, amazing leaders like you doing the work you’re doing, to come and sit alongside of a farmer, to come sit alongside of aspiring doctors and train them and really begin to create a conversation that hasn’t been happening. So, that’s the work we’re embarking on right now. And we really see this next chapter of our work to really create that conversation between the medical community and agriculture.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, I would encourage you to go for that, but I would also say let’s not wait three years. Let’s have a virtual conference where we bring together doctors, farmers, healthcare leaders, big ag, big food, and let’s have a conversation about this because I think the time is ready. And I think when people start to hear each other and cross-pollinate, and understand the nature of what’s really going on, it could be profound.

Jeff Tkach:
Would you join us for that conversation?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Absolutely.

Jeff Tkach:
All right. Let’s do it.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I’ll invite all my friends who I know who are really into this. So, Jeff, I want to ask you about controversy, which is that we really don’t need animals as part of agriculture. That they are a huge driver of climate change, that it’s inhumane for the animals, that the meat isn’t healthy, and that we’d be best just getting rid of animals altogether from agriculture and just eating plant-based diets.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
But the Rodale Institute has really looked at how ecosystems work and whether or not you need animals. Whether or not you eat them or not is another story, but do you need animals as part of an ecosystem to create true regenerative agriculture? And what does the science show that the Rodale Institute has created?

Jeff Tkach:
Yeah, our science over the decades would show a resounding yes, that animals belong in a truly regenerative agricultural system. And the reason for that is because of the ruminating factor of what the function of an animal is to graze. And in so doing, the animal becomes a tool that actually improves the health of the soil over time.

Jeff Tkach:
So, funny enough, over the first couple of decades of us being on the campus in which we’re on, we really didn’t have a lot of animals involved in our research trials, but would you believe that our farm just happens to neighbor two Mennonite dairies? They’re actually a family that live one on each side. And so, about five years ago, we’ve had a tremendous relationship with both farms. It’s the father and the son-in-law that farm on either end of ours.

Jeff Tkach:
And we decided to build a relationship with them to bring their dairy cows onto our farm. As a global research Institute, we didn’t want to have to pay PhDs to milk cows, so it was a perfect relationship. And so, as we’ve introduced these animals onto our farm over the last five years, we’ve actually began a study. The study is actually being done in partnership with several other universities, and it’s all being housed at Rodale.

Jeff Tkach:
And what we’re looking at is how the health of our soil is improving over time the more we graze these animals. And so, over the last five years, we’ve seen dramatic improvements in the soil, organic matter of the soils on the Rodale Institute’s farm, we’ve also started a separate study called the pasture, it’s a pastured pork operation where we’re now grazing about 80 heritage breed pigs on a 10 acre site of our institute. And those pigs are actually improving the health of the soil.

Jeff Tkach:
And then we’ll run chickens through the same pastures that the pigs were on and the chickens play a role too. They have been shown through science to decrease the parasite load in the pigs because the chickens actually, they eat bugs. So they walk around all day and they come through after the pigs. And there’s literally this whole biological symphony that’s happening at our headquarters as we’ve introduced animals into the system. And it’s all being documented through science.

Jeff Tkach:
And if you are interested in going deeper on the actual facts and data, if you go to rodaleinstitute.org, you’ll find the integrated livestock tab on the website, and you can go really deep into that. And I’d encourage you to read more.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, I mean, we’ve covered a lot of this on this podcast, but it’s really clear that you can’t ignore nature, that nature is an ecosystem, and that ecosystem is diverse. And that each niche of that ecosystem has to be filled by the right, basically, element, right? Whether it’s the right plants, and cover crops are a part of that, different crops that fix different nutrients is part of that.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
But animals have been part of building soil for hundreds and hundreds of thousands of years. And we had 168 million ruminants grazing America before we showed up and killed most of them. And they built literally 8 to 50 feet of top soil in ways that we just couldn’t imagine because of the way they graze and how they integrated with the land. And they didn’t overgraze, they moved it over the land in a sustainable way that let the grass grow back. They would chew down half of it, they’d pee and poo, they’d dig it up in their soil. Their saliva actually acts, even make the plants grow more. It would stimulate more plant growth.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So you end up in this virtuous cycle, the bacteria that would be in this kind of soil which fix the methane, it would be released. Because there were all those methane-producing ruminants, but we didn’t have climate change then because it was all a natural ecosystem. And I think what your science is showing is that this is really borne out.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So, whether you’re a vegan or not, whether you want to eat animals or not, we can’t get away from the laws of nature. And we have to understand that in order to create a really robust, rapidly, scalable, regenerative, organic agriculture system, we have to figure out a way to include animals. And then what you’re saying also is that it creates a stack system. So, Gay Brown talks about this. It’s not just the cows, which are the cows, and pigs, and chickens and the ducks, and who knows what else is going around. And that actually allows you to have multiple tiers of productivity on the same land, rather than just a monocrop.

Jeff Tkach:
That’s right.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
You actually produce lots of different crops on the same land using all the different, basically, levels in the ecosystem and the different niches in the ecosystem that different animals or plants can fill. And that is just such a brilliant view. That’s a systems view, and it’s very much like functional medicine. How do you create healthy ecosystem in a human? It’s really what we’re talking about for agriculture.

Jeff Tkach:
Yeah, that’s exactly right. It’s at the heart of how regenerative agriculture works, it’s about biodiversity. The more life you bring onto the farm, the more life you have in the soil, the more life you have in the soil, the healthier the plants, the healthier the people.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I think that’s good. We want healthy people.

Jeff Tkach:
Yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So Jeff, thank you so much for being on The Doctor’s Farmacy. You’ve made such a great conversation. People should go to rodaleinstitute.org and they can learn all about what they’re doing. They can get The Power of the Plate white paper. I’d encourage you to read that. It’s not that long. And it’ll give you an incredible view into the lens of what’s really going on today in health and agriculture and how they intersect and how we need to solve them as one problem as Sir Albert Howard said.

Jeff Tkach:
Great, thank you so much, Dr. Hyman. It’s been a real honor and a real pleasure to be here today to join you for the conversation.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Thank you. And if you’ve been listening to his podcast and you loved it, please share with your friends and family on social media. Leave a comment, we’d love to hear from you. And subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. And we’ll see you next time on The Doctor’s Farmacy.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.

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