There’s a myth that all the large industrial agriculture companies would like for you and me to buy into. That myth is that without them and their innovative farming techniques, the world will run out of food by the end of this century. This is simply not true. Their farming techniques are simply unsustainable and will destroy our soil and waterways if we allow them to continue unsustainable practices well into this century.
Industrial agriculture is the large-scale, intensive production of crops and animals, often involving chemical fertilizers on crops or the routine, harmful use of antibiotics and steroids in animals to enhance their growth and compensate for unsanitary conditions in which the animals are kept.
INDUSTRIAL FARMING PRACTICES
Industrial farming practices are unstainable farming practices that deplete the soil of its natural fertility. They often plant the same crop over and over, not rotating crops, and not allowing for natural regeneration of the soil. This results in heavier use of pesticides and fertilizer. The heavier use of pesticides results in more resistant pests and the killing of pollinator insects. The heavier use of fertilizer results in runoff that causes dead zones in areas such as the Gulf of Mexico and the Chesapeake Bay, due to the high concentrate of phosphorus and nitrogen in the waters. The non-rotation of crops also results in soil loss, eventually rendering the land useless.
INDUSTRIAL LIVESTOCK OPERATIONS
Industrial livestock operations refer to a modern type of agriculture where densely populated groups of animals are confined to cages, barns, or feedlots. These conditions are unsanitary. They are injected with antibiotics to keep them well enough to make it to slaughter. They are also injected with large amounts of steroids to speed up their growing time to get them to slaughter quicker. Their diet consists of corn grown on an industrial farm complex. Their waste is pumped into large toxic holding ponds and slowly leeched back into the water table. These large livestock areas also contribute to methane release back into our atmosphere. Methane is a greenhouse gas that raises global temperatures.
REDUCING THE IMPACT OF INDUSTRIAL AGRICULTURE
The good news is that as of right now, these large-scale farming operations only produce 30% of the food we consume, the other 70% is produced by smaller farms that tend to practice more sustainable farming practices. But 30% of our growing population is still a large amount and a huge impact on our environment. Allowing these practices to increase higher could have a devastating impact on the environment. One way to reduce the impact of these industrial complex farms is to grow our foods in smaller areas allowing for rotation of crops and natural regeneration of soil. Think about blighted areas in inner cities? Community programs could get those areas and plant a community farm and provide nutritious food for community members. Some say that’s an outrageous idea, but why in most inner cities you can walk a couple of blocks to a fast-food restaurant, but it’s miles to a grocery store to purchase nutritious vegetables.
OUR FUTURE IS AT STAKE
We can’t continue down this path allowing big business to infiltrate our farming industry. It will only result in an unhealthier planet and an unhealthier population. For thousands of years, our ancestors lived off the land and left enough to be passed onto the next generation, we should make that a priority in our lives. This unsustainable way we’ve been living for the past 100 years has done more damage to the Earth than any other period in our existence. How much longer can we go on like this?