Written by Lauren Moak, ESLLC 2018-2019
We degrade the land, waste water, destroy habitats, and consume pesticides all so that we can have cheap food. Yet, what people don’t take into account is that human bodies are not designed to withstand the resulting amounts of chemicals that we take in, and our delicate Earth is not capable of enduring its ongoing destruction. While it may seem like we are saving money now, the future of our planet and ourselves are in jeopardy.
Since the early 1900s, the number of farms in the United States has decreased, while the average farm size has increased. This means that many of the family farms have been replaced by commercial operations where the working conditions are considerably downgraded, the land is overworked, and chemicals are used to speed up what used to be natural processes in both plants and animals.
Transitioning to sustainable agricultural practices requires widespread education and participation to significantly change farming techniques. Crop rotation and reduced tillage are two such ways to promote plant diversity and soil preservation, ultimately creating a more natural habitat for growing. However, to enhance the benefits of sustainable farming even further, buyers can support fair-trade for crops such as tea, coffee, and cacao. Through the elimination of middlemen and/or direct support of family farms, these small enterprises are able to keep and reinvest their earnings, and subsequently, pay their workers a living wage. Over time, the local economy will be supported and the farmers will be able to afford to engage in sustainable farming practices.
By supporting sustainable farming and fair-trade, customers from around the world can obtain better quality food products with significantly reduced chemical contents. Products will be a little more expensive, but there is inherently that much more value in those products.