What’s Up with Car­bon?

Better Nutrition - - 7 WAYS -

Unit­ing th­ese seem­ingly un­re­lated is­sues is a gas that of­ten gets neg­a­tive head­lines: car­bon diox­ide. It makes up 80 per­cent of the green­house gases that trap heat above the earth, but car­bon isn’t all bad.

Ev­ery time we breathe, we in­hale oxy­gen and ex­hale car­bon. Plants do the opposite, tak­ing in car­bon and emit­ting oxy­gen. Too much car­bon, of­ten found in poorly ven­ti­lated offi ces, makes the air seem stuff y, can make peo­ple feel sleepy, and can lead to headaches. But in farm­ing, says Adams, “Car­bon is the food of life.” Here’s how na­ture in­tended it to work:

Plants take in car­bon from the air, con­vert some of it into en­ergy, and pump out the rest through their roots. Or­gan­isms in the soil feed on the car­bon, sup­ply nu­tri­ents to the plants, and en­able soil to ab­sorb wa­ter effi ciently and with­stand droughts and other ex­treme weather. As long as there is plenty of life be­low ground, mas­sive amounts of car­bon are stored in the soil, in­stead of es­cap­ing into the at­mos­phere.

By killing off life in the soil, her­bi­cides, pes­ti­cides, chem­i­cal fer­til­iz­ers, and other farm­ing prac­tices have bro­ken the cy­cle. De­pleted soil fl oods eas­ily, leads to toxic run- off , can’t with­stand drought, pro­duces poor- qual­ity food, and con­trib­utes to air pol­lu­tion. But it can be res­cued.

“It’s said that a tea­spoon of healthy soil con­tains more micro­organ­isms than all the peo­ple on earth,” says Gabe Brown, a North Dakota farmer and re­gen­er­a­tive pioneer. And those or­gan­isms are es­sen­tial for nu­tri­tious food, re­silient farm­land, and clean air.

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