“We know more about the stars and the sky than we do about the soil.”
–Dan Barber, Chef and Organic Food Advocate
For the almost 10,000 years that humans have lived in agricultural societies, soil has been responsible for 95% of the food we eat. Take, for example, a simple homemade pasta. Flour starts as wheat grown in loamy soils rich in potassium. The eggs were laid by chickens who graze on grass. If you top with olive oil, you can guess where the olives came from—and so on. Leaf through your favorite cookbook, scroll through the halls of online recipe blogs, you’ll track most food back to soil.
It’s hard to say when the disconnect between food and soil became normal, but sometime in the 20th century we started to associate tomatoes mostly with the grocery store, and we regarded the ground as the place we put our feet.
We now have an opportunity to discover the world of soil anew.
The soil under your feet contains a third of all living organisms (for comparison, humans make up less than .01%). These organisms range from earthworms, to algae that turn sunlight into energy, to mycorrhizal fungi that survive off sugars from roots. These invisible creatures live in an underground world that keeps us fed. It has the potential to make you feel like a kid again: amazed, curious, and cared for.
While soil can feel like a mystical world, it is important to remember that it is also a real habitat, bound by the laws of nature and chemistry. Soil is made of an intricate balance of potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen. Plants take what they need from the soil and give back the nutrients that they create. When we spend years spreading artificial fertilizers, excessively tilling the land, and introducing heavy machinery, we permanently change that balance.
These practices have become the norm over the past century. Our soil is now eroding, meaning it is losing its optimal structure and nutrient density ten times faster than it can be replenished. If we continue like this, we’ll eventually see crop yields dwindle to dangerously low numbers.
At Jacobs Farm del Cabo we farm with the belief that soil-grown agriculture is a key solution to replenishing our world’s soil, protecting the long-term sustainability of our planet, and fighting the climate crisis.
For forty years we have been committed to soil grown agriculture, and we always will be. We believe there are irreplaceable advantages to farming in soil when it comes to protecting our planet and all who inhabit it.
When we work alongside nature, nature works for us. Soil sequestration is the process of plants absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it down into the soil. This decreases the amount of carbon dioxide in the air, in turn decreasing CO2 emissions and slowing global warming. Currently, there is about 2,500 gigatonnes of carbon stored in the soil, which is more than three times the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. If we make an effort to repair our damaged soils through crop rotation, organic growing, and compost application, we can unlock even higher levels of carbon sequestration.
Last but not least, prioritizing soil health protects a very important segment of our population: farmers. Farmers spend generations stewarding the land that grows the wonderful organic food we eat, and provides them and their communities with sustainable income and wellbeing. Embracing this model, that has worked in countless societies for generations, creates full-circle benefits for everyone, especially the planet. We believe in uplifting and protecting farmers who produce needed food for our world in a sustainable way.
One of our farmers in Ensenada, Baja California who has partnered with the del Cabo cooperative for more than 15 years spoke on behalf of this demographic, “When you buy from us, you are buying from people who truly farm—you can know your food. We sell organic products grown in soil with as little plastic as possible, and we recycle as much as possible. We want our roots in the soil, we want local materials, and we want small footprints.”