Love Your Body Love the Earth Series…
When 85% of us were responsible for producing food things were simple, we knew where our food came from. Now that only 3% of us are directly involved with food production and we have every kind of food we can think of at our fingertips things are not so simple. In an effort to make a cogent argument we must start at the beginning.
Farming has changed a lot over the last hundred years or so. We are facing several crises simultaneously: soil depletion and erosion, choking and poisoning of our rivers and streams, ever increasing amounts of pesticides and herbicides showing up in our food and our bodies, and finally, farmers are not able to make a living wage by farming. These are big problems and we have not even begun to talk about our own nutritional needs which are not being served well the way things are going with conventional food production.
Large scale industrial farming has started a viscous cycle of soil depletion and over-use of farm chemicals (herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizer). It is understandable that in order to produce sufficient amounts of food (we are speaking of vegetables for the most part, but this argument can be extended to meat production as well) we will need to use large equipment to cultivate our food crops. The use of this heavy equipment tears up the earth in a way that leaves the soil exposed and makes it more likely to suffer large amounts of erosion every year. Erosion leaves the soil depleted of its important nutrients both for the plants to grow and for us once we eat the produce.
In an effort to maintain crop yield which is absolutely critical when you are trying to make a living from farming, the farmer is forced to use fertilizers, soil conditioners, and a wide array of herbicides and pesticides. All of these: soil, fertilizer, herbicides, pesticides, and soil conditioners are flushed into local streams where they decimate the stream ecosystem by changing the pH of the water, poisoning fish and water plants, and making these streams hospitable to deadly bacteria. These insults effect waterways ecosystems all the way to the ocean. This is not new, we have been aware of these problems for several decades and there are some things we can do about it.
The most effective way for us, as individuals and communities, to bring about changes in these destructive practices is to buy produce from farmers we know who limit the use of these dangerous chemicals and use farming methods that conserve and protect their land. Buying organic produce whenever we can and to the extent that our budgets will allow also helps because certified organic production prohibits the use of most, if not all, of these chemicals. We can vote with our dollars to create the world we want to live in, it will take some time, but it can be done.