Today, the vast majority of our food is produced by an industrial system that churns out commodity crops like corn and soy, which are then turned into processed foods or fed to livestock in order to raise cheap meat.
As industrial agriculture continues its monumental spread, the list of worries that accompany it grows:
- Water pollution from petroleum-based fertilizers and chemical pesticides
- Contamination of foods with drug-resistant E. Coli and other pathogens
- Farm subsidies that singularly encourage large-scale production of corn
- An epidemic of obesity linked to increased consumption of processed foods
- The decline of family farms and rural communities
But, if you look hard enough there’s positive momentum in the food industry, too. Recent years have seen a wellspring of support for organic, sustainable, and local foods.
While local isn’t always sustainable or organic, and organic isn’t always small, these categories substantially overlap and share common farming practices:
- Crop rotation, to avoid a build-up of crop-specific pathogens and pests and avoid soil depletion
- Managed grazing, to allow for regeneration of a pasture’s grasses
- Cultural pest control, which involves crop rotation, combining various types of crops, timing of planting and harvest, weeding, and planting of “trap” crops to naturally divert pests
- Drip irrigation, which saves water and starves weeds by dripping water slowly to the roots through a network of valves, pipes, and tubes
You have power to influence the agricultural industry with the choices you make.
Learn as much as you can about organic and sustainable farming, so you can make informed choices at the store. Get to know your local farmers and producers at the co-op, at the farmers’ market, or by joining a local CSA.
Above all, vote with your dollars by buying from producers whose food production methods you believe in. The future of our food depends on you!
A portion of this page is reprinted and adapted with permission from StrongerTogether.coop.