Ecocity Insights

Healthy Food, Soils, and Climate

Written by Jennie Moore

by Jennie Moore,  Director, Institute Sustainability at British Columbia Institute of Technology and Director, Ecocity Centre of Excellence at BCIT

October 16, 2020, marked the 75th anniversary of World Food Day. This day is dedicated to the promotion of food security for people around the world, especially in times of crisis. World Food Day was created in observance of the creation of the UN Food and Agricultural Institution. This year’s theme was “Grow, nourish, sustain. Together. Our actions are our future.”

This year’s theme links issues identified in the International Ecocity Standards for healthy and accessible food and healthy soils with sustainability – the ability to maintain healthy soils that produce nutritious food indefinitely. It points to the role that we, as individuals and society play in stewarding global agricultural resources and ensuring that no-one goes hungry.

There are over 135 million people who go without food and global food security is a looming challenge, exacerbated by climate change and soil depletion. The recently produced film “Kiss the Ground” reveals important connections between healthy soils and their ability to sequester carbon.

Today’s industrial agricultural practices engage fossil fuels, in the form of fertilizers, chemicals in pesticides, and heavy tilling practices in fields that culminate in the de-nutrification of soils that exacerbate climate change. No-till, regenerative agriculture reverses this cycle by helping soils build nutrients naturally through the retention of ground cover that retains moisture and in turn supports microbial organisms that capture nutrients and feed plant root systems.

Feeding the global human population of 7.8 billion people is a challenge. The 1950-60s Green Revolution utilized technology to design high-producing crop yields that supported our current population boom. However, within the seeds of these crops were sewn the current challenges associated with sustaining high-yields without undue reliance on fertilizers and pesticides and high-till farming that ultimately destroys soils.

A permanent agriculture solution relies on regenerative practices that build soil health even while it is also in use for agricultural production. This is the essence of a permanent, sustainable culture, also known as “Permaculture.” Permaculture invokes regenerative agricultural practices through designing with nature. To learn more, check-out the International Ecocity Standards for Healthy Soils and Healthy and Accessible Food, as well as the UN SDGs for Zero Hunger, Climate Action, and Life on Land.

If you have a garden or a planter box, you can be part of the solution by practicing home-scale permaculture. Avoid pesticides and fertilizers and instead practice organic solutions for growing your plants.

About the author

Jennie Moore

Dr. Jennie Moore is Director, Institute Sustainability at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. Dr. Moore has extensive experience in the realm of ecological sustainability and urban systems including climate change and energy management, green buildings and eco-industrial networking. Prior to joining BCIT she worked for over a decade at Metro Vancouver as Manager of Strategic Initiatives. Her research explores the potential for Vancouver to achieve one-planet living. Jennie is a senior associate of the One Earth Initiative and a core advisor to the International Ecocity Framework and Standards.