It is curious that those who are advancing veganism as a one size cure all for everything from obesity to climate change have not seen fit to talk to any farmers. Now by "farmers" I do not mean commodity groups or political pressure groups or traditional farm groups. I mean rather some of those farmers who would respond favorably to being called biodynamic or organic or grass farmers. If an emissary from the intellectual capital of the world-New York and environs-were to make it into the great middle part of the country, she may find a satisfying number of people involved with the land who know that the Middle East is an area desertified by civilizations that fed the overwhelming majority of their people plant based diets.
She might also find farmers that could tell her that in this time of complete compendiums of knowledge-ask Google-we know fewer than a tenth of the species that we think live in the soil, and even less what they do. These farmers would know that most of what they know of the soil, they have learned from observation, not academic study. They would be able to say that perennial agriculture such as pasture and hay crops is most beneficial to the soil, that some of this benefit could be mimicked by using cover crops in and between annual cash crops, that the soil needs animal impact. Most of these farmers keep steadily in mind that bison, wolves and Indians built the hugely productive grasslands in the country's midsection.
These farmers know that the best measure of soil health we have today is the percentage of organic matter, that this percentage drops with regular tillage and compaction but is built with perennial plants and grazing animals. And they are beginning to understand that good grazing practice can build it faster than we previously thought. People who understand increasing organic matter and its function know that it reduces erosion on land in use and it sequesters carbon.