In Episode #246, I’m joined by writer and environmental activist George Monbiot to critically examine the role of our food systems.
“The global food system is as great a threat to earth’s systems as fossil fuels are – if not more.”
On The Proof, we are consistently working towards building a comprehensive picture of human well-being. And while that relates directly to nutrition and exercise, we also need to take a step back to examine the larger implications of our food systems – for the longevity of both humans and the planet we call home. In this episode, George Monbiot joins me for a brilliant follow up on last week’s episode on how our food system was shaped, taking a deep dive into how this food system is harming the planet.
George Monbiot is an author, Guardian columnist and environmental activist. He has published multiple best-selling books, and has worked with the likes of Greta Thunberg and Ewan McLennan on his activism journey, producing a number of viral videos that have been viewed hundreds of millions of times. He was awarded the UNEP Global 500 in 1995 and the Orwell Prize for journalism in 2022.
“It’s time we stop thinking only about what we can extract from an ecosystem, and it’s time we started to see ecosystems as valuable in their own right. The less we extract from an ecosystem the more valuable they are because the more they defend us against catastrophe.”
In this episode, we examine exactly why food is so important when it comes to planetary health. George explains what soil and the human gut have in common, the problematic nature of animal agriculture, and why food systems are a political issue. We also cover how to drive change in global food systems, rewilding, and much more.
Specifically, we discuss:
- Intro (00:00)
- George Monbiot on wildlife, farming, & global food systems (03:39)
- Plants & soil microbes: a remarkable connection (09:45)
- Soil bacterial diversity & the dangers of soil degradation (20:36)
- Profit over sustainability (26:32)
- The role of citizens in shaping the food system (34:09)
- Why is animal agriculture problematic? (45:38)
- Are we the complacent and the silent majority? (57:35)
- George Monbiot’s alternative to farming animals (01:05:53)
- Outro (01:10:16)
Having followed George’s work for the past decade, it was incredible to hear his perspective on these issues firsthand. His approach that blends science and myth busting with human emotion is a truly powerful one, and I hope you find value in this conversation.
You can find a comprehensive database of George Monbiot’s work on his website, https://www.monbiot.com/, which encompasses his journalistic work and books. Get his book ‘Regenesis’ here. Connect with him on Twitter, and search “George Monbiot” on YouTube to find a wealth of videos like his short film with Greta Thunberg, this TED Talk, and this fascinating video about wolves and the balance of nature.
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More about George Monbiot
George Monbiot is an author, Guardian columnist and environmental activist. His best-selling books include Feral: Rewilding the land, sea and human life, Heat: how to stop the planet burning, and Out of the Wreckage: a new politics for an age of crisis. George cowrote the concept album Breaking the Spell of Loneliness with musician Ewan McLennan, and has made a number of viral videos. One of them, adapted from his 2013 TED Talk, How Wolves Change Rivers, has been viewed on YouTube over 40m times. Another, on Natural Climate Solutions, that he co-presented with Greta Thunberg, has been watched over 60m times. George’s latest book, Regenesis: Feeding the World without Devouring the Planet, was published in May 2022.