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More Than Bread: Sourdough as a Window Into the Microbiome

Sourdough starters can be great fun in the kitchen for bread aficionados, but did you know this particular type of dough has its own microbial ecosystem that varies with different flours and environments? According to NPR, researchers have been analyzing sourdough starters to get a better understanding of its microbiomes, hoping to learn more about the aromas and flavors in sourdough.

Microbiomes — whether they be of sourdough or humans or of the soils on our Earth — are truly windows into life itself. Recently, I’ve discovered the importance of soil microbiomes and how the health of the soil in which your food grows determines your health. We already know that Big Ag farming, with its monocrops and reliance on pesticides and herbicides, is destroying the soil microbiome at alarming rates, but thankfully there is a solution.

Regenerative farming can restore this ecology and rebuild entire ecosystems. Using regenerative land management that incorporates livestock, you can also increase organic matter in the soil back to healthy levels. A common misconception is that regenerative and organic farming cannot be done on large-scale, but that’s been proved wrong by Will Harris, a farmer who has 14,000 birds that lay about 10,000 eggs a day, making his farm the largest pastured egg operation in the U.S.

Harris also has free-range goats, ewes, pigs, chickens, geese and ducks on his farm — and he no longer uses any kind of chemical fertilizers or pesticides. He’s also quit tilling. As a result, the farm and the land as a whole are teeming with life that was not there before. Today, Harris’ land supports 100,000 individual animals of several species, and this is made possible because they support rather than compete with each other for limited resources.

By so doing, Harris works with natural nature cycles of energy, carbon and water to improve the farm’s productivity. The bottom line: His farm drives home the point that HOW food is raised does make a difference. The soil’s microbiome health is totally connected to YOUR health. You simply cannot cut corners during production without impacting the quality of the food and, by extension, human health.
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