Go ahead and cut to the chase, Stef. What’s the real harm in commercial farming?
For starters, it’s estimated the United States is at a 2% domestic production rate of what it was in 1930; the nation lost farm and ranch land 51% more in the 1990’s than in the 1980’s, according to the Huffington Post (search for “Vanishing Farmland: How It’s Destabilizing America’s Food Supply”), at about a million acres per year. In California alone, our Hail Mary of prime farming regions, 1 of every 6 developed acres since the Good Rush disappeared from paving between 1990 and 2004. The majority of American farmland today is used to grow corn stocks that feed CAFO’s (factory farms) of beef, poultry and pork OR eventually becomes high fructose corn syrup for nearly every processed item we buy in supermarkets (to assess what CAFO’s are about, try here: http://www.sustainabletable.org/issues/factoryfarming/ and for high fructose corn syrup, try here: http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S26/91/22K07/).
This all means for the last 7 decades, general efficiency, quality and sustainability of food security has shrunk so much and so fast that I doubt the long term repercussions have been entirely thought through by consumers, including me. The chances of accessing and providing proper vegetables, fruits and meats the human body craves and needs and all too often deprives itself of seem pretty bleak in the global food economy we help to reinforce and safeguard. Fields are turning rock solid, and we can forget about the giant, beautiful red barns and Little House on the Prairie. Think growth of large corporations. Think dependency on foreign imports. Our current industrialized path, once assumed to be an easy solution, is generating genuine and unnecessary damages.
So now I’m lead to two, frank inquiries.
- How many more people we love have to perish from cardiovascular diseases
Or COPD/CLRD (chronic bronchitis and emphysema)
– aka the 4 out of 5 leading causes of death in the U.S. (the other is unintentional accidents) –
Before we realize a) something needs to change and b) that it’s primarily linked to physical wellness choices we individually make every day AND to environmental problems surrounding a highly corrupted food system?
- What can honestly be done?
If you are in disbelief from my claim within the first question, the answer for tackling the second provides some evidence to conclude it (taken from www.healthaliciousness.com):
To help prevent cardiovascular disease, one should…
- fight high cholesterol by eating foods naturally lower in it and that naturally lower it
- fight high blood pressure by finding a form of activity which increases your heart rate and do 20 minutes daily
- reduce intake of sodium/salt
- fight insulin resistance by reducing intake of refined sugars and syrups, including brown sugar and evaporated cane juice
- fight diabetes by watching sugar in-take as well as adopting a regular exercising schedule
- sleep 7 to 9 hours nightly
- find a medium to release negative stress
- limit the amount of alcohol consumption
To help prevent cancer, one should…
- fight a poor diet by eating more fiber, fruits and vegetables
- exercise regularly
- stop or reduce the habit of smoking
- know your family history and develop alternate lifestyles
- apply sunscreen to long period(s) of UV-ray exposure
To help prevent stroke, one should…
- repeat all the steps for preventing cardiovascular disease
- consume recommended daily amounts of water
To help prevent COPD/CLRD, one should…
- avoid inhaling large amounts of dust
- breathe sanitary air
Furthermore, another answer to the second question may be what I came across at Marama and what they do. It’s a fairly new understanding but certainly an old trick in the book. The applications of organic farming strictly limit or do not permit the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, hormones, livestock antibiotics and genetically modified organisms (GMO’s are a whole other story in themselves) and does not interfere with the natural development of soil, plants, livestock and then of course, human beings too. This and that and so much more that would take me many more pages to jot down.
Enter the clincher. Nutrition is simply everything. What we put into our mouths has a direct correlation to our overall well being, and diet (and exercise), as we’ve been told since we learned the ABC’s, is a major factor in predicting and warding off most health issues likely to develop in our futures. Thus enter the basics. You and I cannot get good, clean and fair food without good, clean and fair animal health. And we cannot have good, clean and fair animal health without proper care of plants. And plants need nourishing soil, not an approach fostered in the opposite direction.
Organic farming precisely starts there: the dirt. Then builds up. And doesn’t disrupt a cycle intended to enrich the life of everything participating in it.
My open recommendation and organic defense, like Graham and Giselle once hinted to me, is to get extremely nosy about your bodies. I mean Curious George type crazy! I also encourage you to read on it (i.e. books like Eating Animals by Jonathon Safran Foer; Eat Right for Your Type by Peter D’Adamo; Animal, Vegatable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver; The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan; Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal by Eric Schlosser; The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter by Peter Singer; On Food & Cooking: The Science & Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGee), view it (i.e. films like One Man, One Cow, One Planet; Polyface Farm; The Real Dirt Behind Farmer John; Sicko; Ghost in Your Genes; Cancer, Nutrition & Health; Food, Inc.; King Corn; The Future of Food; Food Stamped; The Garden), and research some organizations and websites in order to determine for yourself. Or, if you’re feeling ultra revolutionary, find an organic farmer near your location and ask about the possibilities of coming to witness first-hand how they do things.
It just might make all the difference – at least it did for me.
“Imagine if we had a food system that actually produced wholesome food. Imagine if it produced that food in a way that restored the land. Imagine if we could eat every meal knowing these few simple things: What it is we’re eating. Where it came from. How it found its way to our table. And what it really cost. If that was the reality, then every meal would have the potential to be a perfect meal. We would not need to go hunting for our connection to our food and the web of life that produces it. We would no longer need any reminding that we eat by the grace of nature, not industry, and that what we’re eating is never anything more or less than the body of the world. I don’t want to have to forage every meal. Most people don’t want to learn to garden or hunt. But we can change the way we make and get our food so that it becomes food again—something that feeds our bodies and our souls. Imagine it: Every meal would connect us to the joy of living and the wonder of nature. Every meal would be like saying grace.”
~Michael Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma