Change the Food System

The Problem

To grow mass amounts of one type of food, commercial farmers use pesticides and herbicides to kill insects and weeds, and fertilizers to increase yields. This is required because there aren’t the checks and balances present in nature that keep the soil healthy and monitor the abundance of pests and weeds. However, runoff of agrochemicals and fertilizers is the greatest cause of water pollution, leading to ocean dead zones and water acidification.

Commercial farming demands a high rate of deforestation to clear land for raising cattle or growing crops. There is a low rate of forest regeneration, as soil is often eroded or degraded until the point of infertility. Practices like slash and burn used in Brazil by illegal cattle ranchers releases high amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. It’s estimated that 80% of tropical deforestation is caused by agriculture, and 11% of GHG emissions are due to deforestation (not to mention the 15% caused by agriculture itself). Habitat loss, decreasing biodiversity, and displacement of local peoples are all consequences of land use conversion too.

These two aspects of commercial agriculture are sufficient to demonstrate the negative impacts that it is having on our Earth. Regardless of our viewpoints regarding the current health of and the importance of the environment, it is important to discuss  more sustainable alternatives.

The Solution

It is my belief that homesteaders and local farmers are able to greatly impact our future. Whether they grow food for self sustenance or for sale, these types of farmers can help lower the environmental footprint of our modern food system.

Homesteaders operate by growing their own crops and hunting for their own meat. Thus, these people have a decreased reliance on commercially grown foods to feed themselves and their families.

Local farmers operate on a smaller scale, meaning that less land is used to grow food, and fewer miles are traversed to bring the food from the farm to the marketplace. Since their is a decreased amount of time between harvesting the food and selling it, farmers don’t have to use preservatives or plastic packaging to keep the food fresh. Also, less energy is used for refrigeration. Because smaller amounts of food are being grown, less land has to be cleared, and the rigorous farming practices used by commercial farmers can be avoided.

How It Works 

Farmers markets provide a network for local farms to connect with the community by selling their produce. Frequently, produce at the farmers market is cheaper than at the grocery store. Locally grown food is also healthier, since it is picked at its peak, sold fresh, and doesn’t require the same treatment as foods in the supermarket.

In a country led by consumerism, the easiest and most efficient way to make an impact is by making the right choices about how and where you spend your money. By buying food at the farmers market, you are not only putting money into the local economy, but you are also supporting farmers who will ensure a more sustainable future for our country and for humanity as a whole.


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