Online conversations on soil health

Our guests start with a short presentation, followed by conversation with participants.

During this talk, David and Mandy will review the key points from the paper The Regenerative Agriculture and Human Health Nexus: Insights from Field to Body and discuss the action steps necessary to strengthen the movement that will rebuild both human health and soil health.

The report aims to deepen the discussion about the connections between agriculture, food, human health and environmental health and positions the burgeoning movement to take strategic action. Our paper explores the evidence connecting agriculture and broader food system activities to human health outcomes and in reviewing this evidence from field to body, we are left with a number of summary reflections, namely that growing more nutritious food does influence human health, but that we have a lot of work to do to transform systems and maximize the potential that more nutritious food has to offer in the realm of human health. While this may seem to be a relatively common-sense conclusion, we also see a food system that has been built on delivering a large volume of calories, not necessarily nutrition (from the perspective of macronutrients, micronutrients, and bioactive compounds).

Mandy Ellerton is an independent consultant focused on food and healthcare systems transformation. She recently concluded nine years at the Bush Foundation, a place-based, private foundation in the Midwest. As a senior leader at the Foundation, she created and led the groundbreaking Community Innovation programs that funded cross-sector social innovation projects focused on advancing equity in a variety of fields. Mandy came to the Foundation from Grassroots Solutions, a national grassroots organizing and strategy firm where she led both legislative advocacy projects and strategy consulting for foundations and the private sector. Mandy holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Minnesota, with a concentration in community organizing, and a B.A. degree from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN. She is also a trained nutritional therapist. She was named one of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” awardees in 2020; named a Fellow in RSF Social Finance’s 2018-2019 Integrated Capital Institute; and selected for the Young American Leaders Program at Harvard Business School in 2016.

David LeZaks, Ph.D., Senior Fellow at Croatan Institute, is an environmental scientist and financial activist whose work is centered around developing innovative mechanisms for financing the transition to agroecological farming and food systems. Before joining Croatan Institute, Dr. LeZaks led the Regenerative Food Systems initiative at Delta Institute in Chicago, where he managed a portfolio of projects that focused on the design and deployment of disruptive mechanisms to unlock substantial capital flows into regenerative agriculture. Previously, he served as an RSF Social Finance Integrated Capital Institute fellow. He is based in Madison, Wisconsin, where he is active in a number of community organizations and spends his spare time gardening and participating in a variety of silent sports.