There is a lot of talk today about making things better in the food industry. But what is better when it comes to food? Certainly the extraordinary abundance of food in America complicates the whole matter of choice. Everyone enjoys when they are in good health and a healthy life is a result of a healthy diet. How do you know what foods are best for you? A lot of people are interested in food, good food, integrity food, etc… But, how do you know you are making the right decisions and buying the best foods for your family? Is the choice to buy foods with a big “Organic” label sufficient? How do you know?
Lessons from the Past
Years ago, people could only survive by growing their own food on their own land. They couldn’t afford to grow more than what they could consume. This type of agriculture is known as subsistence farming. This was not all bad. Most everyone knew how to grow their own food and they knew where their food came from. But there was a lot of hard labor involved and there was no extra income for the needs of raising a family. There had to be a better way…
Then some years later there was the industrial revolution. Developments in machinery and chemicals allowed us to clear and cultivate land faster. Changes in feeds allowed for farmers to grow animals faster, bigger, and cheaper. Advances in pesticides have killed pests and diseases quickly. People started moving off the farm and began living in cities so they could work in the factories for an increased income. Small family farms turned into huge factory farms and feed lots. Fast food restaurants came into the picture demanding the need for large quantities of cheap, size-consistent food. Factory farms delivered it. Scientists discovered new ways to genetically modify seeds to produce bigger, disease resistant crops. These new-found abilities seemed like a godsend to mankind; and throughout the 20th century we used them to their fullest, generally with little regard to any unforeseen repercussions.
Gradually over time, an increasing amount of problems began to reveal the results of this era of industrial farming and development. Chemicals are affecting plant and animal life by reducing the need for them to build up their own immunity. Soil declined in ways such as soil erosion, loss of soil fertility, and nutrients being washed away to waterways, streams, and lakes. The fuels being burned by large machinery and production plants have increased pollution and oil consumption drastically.
Then in the latter part of the 20th century, organic farming concepts began developing and have gained recognition in the first few years of the 21st century. Organic farming started out as a good concept growing quickly and becoming very popular. This growth stimulated a need for verification that products are indeed produced according to certain standards. And so standards and certifications have been established. Large corporations have quickly adapted to these organic standards in order to maintain market shares and compete against the small-scale family farms. Because of this, we have organic foods being produced and offered by factory farms. So buying organic foods is not necessarily supporting small, family farms.
What happened to our connection with the land and animals, our food source? We go to the supermarket, we get what we want and we have no idea where it comes from or how it was processed. We need to get this connection back. We need to change our thinking about our ways of agriculture and farming. We need to start supporting…
The Sustainable Farming Way!
Sustainable farming is a system of agriculture that will last. The word “sustain” means; to give support, to supply with sustenance, nourish, to carry or withstand a weight or pressure. We can see from this definition the real meaning of sustainable farming. It protects the health of the natural environment and will leave it in a better condition for the next generation. Sustainable Agriculture is an agriculture that maintains its productivity over the long run. Sustainable farming is economically profitable with fair trade practices and is healthy for the community. Sustainable farming means being a good steward of the natural resources. It empowers the farmer to work with natural processes to conserve resources such as soil and water while at the same time minimizing waste and environmental impact. This allows for the farm to become resilient, self regulating, and is beneficial to the farmer and the consumer.
Another key to sustainable farming is that it is a transparent food system. Unlike the industrial food system where you don’t know who the farmer was that raised your food, how it was raised, and how far it needed to travel to get to you, this sustainable type of farming has nothing to hide. These small, family farms work hard to bring healthy, quality food to the marketplace. It’s all about restoring the connection between people and nature. It is an asset to the community, and it builds value and trust between the farmer and the customer.
Support Sustainable Farming
You can finally know where your food comes from. You can make healthy food choices. It should be more than just a choice we make. It needs to be a responsibility for every consumer and every farmer. We need to be responsible for the food system that we support. It is going to affect our future and the next generation. We can turn this industry around, one acre at a time, one farm at a time. We have the option to cast our vote three times a day for the food system that we support. Support Sustainable Farming! Nature’s Yoke is committed to Sustainable Farming.