Thoughtful Thursday: Doing Away with the Term “Sustainable”

In my Nuffield study report,  I argue that the use of the term ‘sustainability’ in agriculture is outdated. I conclude that the 3 legged model (see needs to be replaced with a 5 pillar model for ‘resilience’.

In a recent blog at, my words are echoed.

We agree with Secretary Tom Vilsack that the word “sustainability” is meaningless to consumers and the public. It’s overused, misused and it has been shamelessly co-opted by corporations for the purpose of greenwashing.

Although they call for regenerative agriculture when I call for resilient agriculture, we are striving for the same thing. We agree that it is time for a new paradigm in agriculture and that we need to do away with the word “sustainable’ entirely.

Resilience sign from forbes.comkground

As has been said often in this blog, for a shift to a new paradigm to reach a tipping point, the consumer needs to be conscious that when they are buying food, they are voting with their fork.

In this new paradigm, consumers could choose food produced by degenerative, toxic chemical-intensive, monoculture-based industrial agriculture systems that destabilize the climate, and degrade soil, water, biodiversity, health and local economies. Or they could choose food produced using organic regenerative practices based on sound ecological principles that rejuvenate the soil, grasslands and forests; replenish water; promote food sovereignty; and restore public health and prosperity—all while cooling the planet by drawing down billions of tons of excess carbon from the atmosphere and storing it in the soil where it belongs.

Monsanto has a vision for sustainable agriculture on their website that depicts a woman carrying a child. They claim they are “Producing More,’ ‘Conserving More,’ and ‘Improving Lives.’

Agriculture 3.0 is resilient agriculture (beyond sustainable) that is health promoting; for soil life, plants, watersheds, ecosystems, bees, animals, people, communities, and the planet. Ag3.0 farms are emerging, interconnected in networks of networks. The farmer is rewarded for their skills and eco-services, and for feed and food that has high nutritional value, ensuring that their farm enterprises are viable. Imagine the future when the consumer carries an instrument similar to an infra-red thermometer, that measures the brix level of a piece of fruit in the grocery store. This is empowerment. (And apparently, the technology is being developed.)

Ag3.0 is ‘back to basics’, with a revised farm enterprise mission statement of ‘Nourishing Communities’, instead of ‘feeding the world,’ because nobody can take on the task of feeding the world.


About Kaytlyn Dale

#nuffield13 scholar passionate about sacred agriculture and holding space for transforming ourselves so that we can help regenerate the land, soil, Earth and our food system. Pursuing an MA that brings spirituality and agriculture together in the conversation.
This entry was posted in Consumer Action, Nuffield Scholarship, Resilient Agriculture, True Transformation for Agriculture and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Thoughtful Thursday: Doing Away with the Term “Sustainable”

  1. Pingback: Sacred Life, Sacred Seed and Agriculture 3.0 | Reclaiming the Miracle of Food and Farming

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