In our first volume of the Save Our Water Series, we spoke about rain barrel production and the benefits on small gardens to big farms. Today’s volume will illuminate the myriad of important information gleaned when researching sustainable farming, and what it can do to really save our planet.
We will begin by understanding what Sustainable Agriculture is. In short, this type of farming practice keeps the greater good in mind. It protects the environment, public health, animal health and habitat, and allows us the ability to produce good food without hindering the next generations ability to do so.
Well what is GOOD FOOD? Great question. “Good” food, in my opinion, is local(the further it travels, the more preservatives have to be used), truly organic (get your round up out my face) properly fed (grass fed, or true omnivore diet for chickens because chickens are NOT vegetarian), non hormone or GMO enhanced (screw you Monsanto and the three headed , genetically modified horse you rode in on), FOOD grown or grazed in soil that not only is rich in proper nutrient densities and ratios, but also maintains a pesticide and herbicide free grade.
Let’s break down the difference between Industrial Practices and Sustainable practices.
Industrial Crop and Livestock Production
So basically, Industrial crop and livestock production uses a type of monoculture. What is Monoculture, you say? Oh, let’s let the experts explain.
“Monoculture is a common practice in modern agriculture in which large acreages of land are planted with one type of crop, usually multiple years in a row. Often such techniques are used to supply goods to other regions or countries. Monocultures deplete the soil and crops grown in this manner become more susceptible to pests and disease than those grown in a diverse crop environment, thus requiring larger amounts of chemical sprays (i.e. pesticides). Monoculture on animal factory farms refers to the raising of one type of animal (generally chickens, turkeys, cattle, or pigs) confined in densely packed expanses, often treated with hormones and antibiotics to maximize growth and prevent the diseases that would otherwise spread quickly through the farm. These operations produce much more waste than the surrounding land can handle, and the farms are associated with numerous environmental hazards as well as animal cruelty. The government calls these facilities Concentrated (or Confined) Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).”
Sounds AWESOME, right?
This seems, to me, that they are operating under the notion that they are gonna treat everything like crap, just to “feed the world” chemically downgraded food that is low in nutrients, and high in toxic crap.
Sustainable Livestock Production
Farmers that use practices with sustainable focuses allow their animals to eat an instinctive, natural diet, to move freely on pasture, and to eliminate the stress and disease (hello no disease, no antibiotics needed…f*#%ing DUH) that a cramped environment produces.
People are led to believe that in order to feed more people, we must use genetics to produce food that can withstand drought, bugs, weeds, and weather patterns. That is just untrue in a lot of cases. Sure, the big companies take a hit in the wallet when these things happen, but to truly teach sustainable farming will impact our whole world.
“Regenerative Agriculture describes farming and grazing practices that, among other benefits, reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity – resulting in both carbon drawdown and improving the water cycle.”
I cannot explain the benefits any better than Regeneration International can in their well researched list below.
A Global Shift to Regenerative Agriculture Can:
- Feed the world: Small farmers already feed the world with less than a quarter of all farmland. > Read the GRAIN Report
- Decrease GHG emissions: A new food system could be a key driver of solutions to climate change. The current industrial food system is responsible for 44 to 57% of all global greenhouse gas emissions. > Read the GRAIN Report
- Reverse climate change: Emissions reduction alone is simply inadequate. Luckily, the science says that we can actually reverse climate change by increasing soil carbon stocks. > Read the Rodale Institute Report
- Improve yields: In cases of extreme weather and climate change, yields on organic farms are significantly higher than conventional farms. > Read the Report by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food
- Create drought-resistant soil: The addition of organic matter to the soil increases the water holding capacity of the soil. Regenerative organic agriculture builds soil organic matter. > Learn More
- Revitalize local economies: Family farming represents an opportunity to boost local economies. > Read the FAO Report
- Preserve traditional knowledge: Understanding indigenous farming systems reveals important ecological clues for the development of regenerative organic agricultural systems. > Read the Action Aid Nepal Report
- Nurture biodiversity: Biodiversity is fundamental to agricultural production and food security, as well as a valuable ingredient of environmental conservation. > Read the Report
- Restore grasslands: One third of the earth’s surface is grasslands, 70% of which have been degraded. We can restore them using holistic planned grazing. > See the Evidence
- Improve nutrition: Nutritionists now increasingly insist on the need for more diverse agro-ecosystems, in order to ensure a more diversified nutrient output of the farming systems. > Read the Report by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food
We Can’t Afford Healthy Food
This is a legit concern as health food stores are quite pricey when it comes to organic food. Finding your local farmers market (yes, they have them in cities all the time) or finding a crop sharing organization such as Agriberry here in Virginia and Maryland, helps keeps the cost of truly organic farm fresh foods down. It also provide the added benefit of having your family eat what is in season, which requires less industrial farming interventions.
In small towns, like ours here in Virginia, farmers markets supply these local farms a venue to sell the fruits of their hard labor. We utilize these markets for produce, and have a gone in for several years on purchasing a cow sharefrom a local SUSTAINABLE farm here in Orange, VA called Renewed Pastures Farms.
The owners, Jason Goforth and his wife, invited the family and I to tour the farm and see exactly what the farm does to remain sustainable. We could even see how the cows live and graze if we wanted to!
In the health food store, a pound of Grass-fed meat is roughly $6-$8 depending on the store and the company. Over time if you are an avid beef eater like we are, the tax, price for gas for the trip, the packaging, and price fluctuation in the market adds up quickly. So, we do a cow-share with some friends of ours. We get 1/2 a cow that is cut to order and will last us roughly 8-12 months. At less than $8 per pound, we get filets, flank steaks, London broils, and even or ground beef allotment for a STEAL compared to grocery store. And Jason delivers it right to our deep freezer!
So we have local (within 100 miles), preservative free (freezing is their only method), and true sustainably farmed meat that our family can rely on for an unbeatable price.
How can we NOT afford that?
*** Check out this PDF on Grass-fed Cow Market News.***
The simple truth is this, we have to support our farmers who work their butts off to uphold truly sustainable farms. They rely on us to purchase their products, be it produce or meats, in order to keep their higher standards up. So let’s get out there and support our local folks!