In healthy, symbiotic systems, plant roots feed these soil microbes sugars and give them a place to latch onto. In return, the microbes help the plants absorb nutrients in the surrounding soil. All life on Earth depends on this mutually beneficial relationship—but some agricultural practices can mess with it.
“The problem is that most conventional agriculture practices erode the organic matter and life in the soil,” Ryland Engelhart, co-founder and executive director of Kiss the Ground, a nonprofit that proposes a new way of farming, tells mbg.
As such, our farms are producing food that isn’t as nutrient-rich as it could be. “We are destroying the ability of the soil to provide nutrition to the plant,” Mark Hyman, M.D., said on a visit on the mindbodygreen podcast. The functional medicine doctor estimated that the nutrient density of plant foods is 50% less than it was 50 years ago, thanks to the invasive way we’ve been farming.