While not everyone means exactly the same thing by 'regenerative agriculture' (a broad term referring to holistic farming practices supporting biodiversity, sequestering carbon in the soil, holding groundwater and building topsoil) - hence the emergence of multiple certification schemes in this space - this doesn't mean we should throw the baby out with the bathwater, said Carla Vernon at General Mills.
General Mills is working on multiple projects in the field, from partnering with organic farmers (click HERE) to produce limited edition products "grown on a farm advancing regenerative practices" that will be sold in Sprouts nationwide, to developing its own Regenerative Agriculture Scorecard to verify implementation of on-farm management practices as they relate to regenerative agriculture principles, said Vernon.
"There isn't only one approach to this, so we are exploring a number of partnerships."
One such collaboration is with the Savory Institute (via EPIC Provisions) on the Land to Market initiative, dubbed as the "first verified regenerative sourcing solution for meat, dairy, wool and leather," but the company is also supporting Organic Valley farmers with the development of Carbon Farm Plans to advance regenerative practices, and helping boost the conversion of conventional farmland to certified organic acreage, she said.
"The fact that we are all having this conversation now is pretty energizing."
Given that proponents of some genetically engineered crops point out that a key benefit is that they are no till (tilling releases carbon from the soil), does regenerative agriculture have to mean organic agriculture?
Not necessarily, said Vernon. "We're a great example of a company that has mainstream brands and very large organic brands (Cascadian Farms, Annie's etc), so this isn't restricted to organic."