Why we should support small, organic farms
from industrialized agriculture!
By Holiday Hagan
so, What is wrong with our current situation?
It goes without saying that our environment is in a current downward spiral due to harsh chemicals such as greenhouse gases penetrating the atmosphere, but modern farming practices like monoculture and livestock farming are also to blame. Monoculture is the practice of growing a large amount of a single crop in a given area which can be a good thing since it increases the yield for commercial farmers, however, it contributes to soil erosion, too much fossil fuel and water usage because of heavy machinery, all of which contribute to climate change (Kniss, 2017).
Modern agriculture is a profit-oriented, energy-depleting, chemical carwash that thrives in a system built to exploit humans and animals, while harming the Earth (Williams, 2010). Unfortunately, animals suffer the most. Industrialized animal husbandry is not only unethical, it is one of the major causes of CO2 in our atmosphere (Williams, 2010). Large-scale farms tend to raise hundreds if not thousands of pigs and cows, usually of the same breed, and confine them in a small space in terrible conditions. This is unhealthy for them because it threatens the onset of viruses. Do you want to eat meat that has been exposed to an environment that is at high-risk for disease? (Williams, 2010).
small farms, big benefits
There is hope for a more sustainable future if we shift our current system from industrialized farming to small and organic farming practices. What does that look like? Well, at one of these small farms you might see:
think co-ops and community gardens
Stepping foot onto a community garden is like looking at a tiny version of a small farm. It is essentially a small farm on a much smaller scale that uses very similar sustainable farming practices like composting, permaculture, and creative use of space and technology (Guitart, Byrne, & Pickering, 2013). Community gardens offer us a way to become more connected to nature while living in a city that is so distinctly removed from rural life. Being located in urban areas decreases the amount of energy and waste used to transport produce and animals (Williams, 2010).
Another benefit is in the name: community. The type of people community gardens attract are passionate about the Earth and health of the individual. Volunteers are always welcome at community gardens as they are always looking for people to weed, collaborate, plant, and get organized. If this sounds of interest to you, be sure to check out some local community gardens in San Francisco to inquire about getting involved.
A visual map of community gardens in San Francisco:
What is a co-op?
Co-ops are businesses at that are worker-owned and not giving ultimate power to one individual such as an owner. Grocery co-ops usually sell produce and dairy (and sometimes meat) that comes from farms around the area, giving more access to seasonal, organic and affordable produce. Supporting grocery co-ops means you are supporting the ethical consumption of food and sustainable agricultural practices.
protest with your dollar
So how can you protest Agribusiness and support the growing sustainability movement? ...with your dollar!
Farmer's markets are a great way to get to know the small, organic farms in the surrounding area, and the farmers themselves! The produce they bring to sell is fresh, in season, and grown ethically. Usually, the farmers love to talk about what they are growing that season and love to talk to their customers. It is a great idea to start shopping at farmer's markets because the more money you spend at farmer's markets, the less money you give to big Agribusiness. It is our right to choose who we give our money to and the small changes we make will add up to create larger, long-lasting changes in the future.
Basket of garden goods and small garden [Personal photograph taken in Cobh, Ireland]. (2016, June).
Support small organic farms [Personal photograph taken in San Francisco, California]. (2015, June).
Coelho, F. C., Coelho, E. M., & Egerer, M. (2018). Local food: Benefits and failings due to modern agriculture. Scientia Agricola, 75(1), 84-94. doi:10.1590/1678-992x-2015-0439
Gordon-Nembhard, J. (2014, February). The Benefits and Impacts of Cooperatives. Retrieved November 7, 2018, from http://www.geo.coop/story/benefits-and-impacts-cooperatives
Guitart, D. A., Byrne, J. A., & Pickering, C. M. (2013). Greener growing: Assessing the influence of gardening practices on the ecological viability of community gardens in South East Queensland, Australia. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 58(2), 189-212. doi:10.1080/09640568.2013.850404
Kniss, A. (2017, February 13). The Problem With Monoculture. Retrieved November 7, 2018, from http://fafdl.org/blog/2017/01/26/the-problem-with-monoculture/
Williams, C. (2010). Ecology and Socialism: Capitalism and the Environment. Chicago: Haymarket Books.
The Digestible; a site for easy to understand food, nutrition, health, and energy balance information.