We are what we eat, says Harris Farm's regenerative farming crusader

Harris Farm Markets ambassador Charlie Arnott at 2021 Farming Matters conference

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QUALITY ASSURED: Harris Farm Market's sustainability project lead Courtney McGregor and and Harris Farm region ambassador Charlie Arnott at the Farming Matters conference at Albury ... 'if you eat food you should care about where it comes from'. Picture: JAMES WILTSHIRE

QUALITY ASSURED: Harris Farm Market's sustainability project lead Courtney McGregor and and Harris Farm region ambassador Charlie Arnott at the Farming Matters conference at Albury ... 'if you eat food you should care about where it comes from'. Picture: JAMES WILTSHIRE

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Change the paddock between your ears

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"Put your hand up if you eat food?" Charlie Arnott likes to ask.

The "regenerative farming crusader" and Harris Farm Markets ambassador says the answer to that question explains why "everyone should care" about how we farm.

Mr Arnott, who joined Tuesday night's panel during the 2021 Farming Matters conference at Albury in southern NSW, says if you care about your health, the health of your children and the environment, it's not such a leap to regenerative farming.

But this passionate and successful farmer says the first major shift that needs to happen is in the mindset of consumers, retailers and farmers.

"Before we can make any changes to our paddocks, we need to change the paddock between our ears," he says.

Seen as the modern face of the regenerative farming movement, which is described as "as much a philosophy as a science", Mr Arnott practises what he preaches on his 5000-hectare property at Boorowa, NSW.

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Once a traditional farming family, the Arnotts now run under an an organic, biodynamic and holistically managed model.

Among the catalysts was the millennium drought "where I watched my paddocks blow away in the wind".

Now his cattle, sheep and pigs are pasture-raised and totally free of chemicals.

The "clean", nutritious meat goes direct to dinner tables and local butchers.

There is a growing appetite for food grown from sustainable farming practices, according to Mr Arnott.

"The 'eaters' are getting on board," he says.

He has joined forces with the independent grocery retailer to help build "regen" partners, verify supplier claims and shape strategy.

"No one is going into Harris Farm and asking can I have more lettuce with chemicals sprayed on it," says Mr Arnott who also has his own podcast, The Regenerative Journey.

"Harris Farm is uniquely positioned between the farmers and the eaters - they are in a wonderful place to influence consumers and increase demand for farmers to supply these products."

APPETITE: Harris Farm Markets says it's up to all of us to look at farming practices and where food comes from.

APPETITE: Harris Farm Markets says it's up to all of us to look at farming practices and where food comes from.

Currently Harris Farm Markets, which recently opened Albury as its flagship store, has about 130 regeneratively farmed products available on the shelf and online; these products are specifically labelled and the aim is to highlight these shining light suppliers.

CEO Angus Harris has vowed to double that number by the end of 2021, and double it again by the end of 2022.

In February, Harris Farms launched 'It's All In The Soil' campaign promoting the benefits of regenerative agriculture in removing carbon from the atmosphere and having a positive impact on climate change.

"With healthier soil we'll have healthier food which means a healthier you and planet," came the call.

"Australia is an agricultural powerhouse, however, if we don't start to innovate the way we are producing we will be at risk of irreversible damage to our soil and therefore an impact to our food supply and quality," Mr Harris says.

"Put simply, at Harris Farm Markets we are urging all consumers to dig deep and really question where their food is coming from and the impact this has on our future."

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