Real Food: Why Biodiversity Can Save Our Bodies & Planet

By The Chopra Well

Have we declared war on the Earth?

According to Vandana Shiva, a renowned physicist, philosopher, and eco feminist, this is indeed the path we are treading. It’s a bold statement, but one that might not be foreign to you, especially in the midst of a growing environmental movement. Most of us nowadays have heard about climate change. We’ve heard about the melting ice caps and the rise of greenhouse gases. We’ve seen pictures of activists hanging off oil rigs and polar bears floating on diminished chunks of glaciers. The environment is in a state of crisis, we are well aware. And yet what does it all mean? How did we get here?

In the latest episodes of Sages & Scientists on The Chopra Well, Vandana Shiva discusses agriculture, biodiversity, sustainability, and the importance of making peace with the Earth. For Shiva, this is a systemic issue, intrinsic in the very ways we think about nature. To address this, we must first turn to the food on our plates.

Shiva emphasizes that industrial farming is at the core of environmental degradation. This long-outdated form of agriculture, to which we have ascribed for roughly 200 years, wreaks havoc on the environment. Shiva refers to the overuse of pesticides and herbicides, as well as genetic modification of crops, as forms of violence against the Earth. This in turn translates to violence against people, against all species, against democracy, and against science itself. Reconstituted soy flour will never replace lentils, no matter how cheap or easy to produce. Chemical pesticides derived from war technology will never make our crops more abundant nor our bodies more hearty.

And yet, as Shiva relays, companies like Monsanto increasingly overpower rural farming efforts around the world and impose a framework of thinking rooted in industrial agriculture. According to Shiva, 95% of the cotton in India is owned by Monsanto. It is little wonder the country has witnessed an increase in suicides by cotton farmers who are quickly falling into debt, unable to compete with the industrial giants. These are some of the issues that inspire Shiva to put her scientific training to use as an environmental activist.

In 1984, Shiva founded Navdanya, a non-governmental organization dedicated to conserving biodiversity, organic farming, and the rights of farmers. She went on to establish Bija Vidyapeeth, or Earth University, where people gather on a property in Northern India to learn organic farming and sustainable practices. But for Shiva, organic farming is just the tip of a long, complicated struggle for cultural and economic freedom. We can begin making peace with the Earth, she says, by shifting our current framework of thinking toward one that recognizes and appreciates the diversity on our planet. Varieties of plants, landscapes, climates, animals, and cultures…this is the real tapestry of which we are a part.

The future may depend on this shift toward biodiversity, and our bodies certainly won’t complain. Think of it this way: Would you rather sit down to a bowl of wholesome lentil dal or a serving of reconstituted soy flour mush?

Let us know in the comments below!

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Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla2 years ago

Sharing, thanks

James Hager
James Hager3 years ago

very informative, thanks!!!

Lika S.
Lika S.3 years ago

The more diverse we are, the better off.

Michael Kirkby
Michael Kirkby3 years ago

Of course industrial farming and fish farming are detrimental to the earth as are deep ocean trawl nets and long line fishing deleterious to the oceans. There are too many of us on the earth. We had better hope that bio diversity works or we won`t survive for whatever reason. Yes we are to blame for some of the climate change but we also need to acknowledge that the planet itself adjusts climate to its needs. We also need to stop messing with the ionosphere (HAARP) and affecting climate change and health due to chemtrails as well.

John S.
Past Member 3 years ago

I'm not certain it is corporations that drive the process or consumers.

Jennifer C.
Past Member 3 years ago


Mc Kevin V.

Earth is our mother entity given by God.
Thanks for this article.

Mari Garcia
Mari Garcia3 years ago

What people should be doing, is finding ways to combat pollution on all fronts. It's not enough to get people to stop polluting, we have to find ways to clean it up. The damage is done and I fear and really think it's too late. Like with the trash, what do we do with it? Landfills cause soil pollution, dumping in the ocean messages up food chain, and burning it damages everything. We can hope and pray that life on this planet can get better, but until we deal with pollution, it's all hopes and dreams.

Rosie Jolliffe
Rosie Lopez3 years ago


Geela Green
Geela Green3 years ago

If "corporations are people", the Earth definitely is alive. It's a living, breathing entity that should be cherished and nurtured.