Farming and how we buy our food has changed a lot over the last 100 years. We have become very disconnected from our food and farming has become more about quantity over quality. Companies like Monsanto thrive on this idea. They produce chemicals and genetically modified (GMO) seeds that are designed to grow larger yields. While this sounds like a great idea, there is a growing concern in the safety of these products and the quality of the food is being sacrificed.
Also contributing to the loss of quality in much of our food is the fact that it is shipped on average 1,500- 2,000 miles. If you have ever tasted freshly picked produce you know it has more flavor than the conventional grocery store produce — from who knows where. And it’s not just the taste that is sacrificed due to the industrialization of farming, produce is now anywhere from 5% to 40% lower in minerals than 50 years ago. This is likely caused by the fact that modern chemical fertilizers and pesticides are allowing crops to be harvested faster meaning they have less time to absorb minerals from the soil and synthesis. The monoculture farming we see today is also to blame as it is destroying the soil quality.
With an estimated 925 million people going hungry in the world, many people like to argue that we need to continue to farm this way to feed everyone. However, studies show that it’s not a lack of food that is causing world hunger but a lack of proper distribution. A recent study showed that America wastes nearly 40% of its food supply each year.
Food conscious people are starting to take notice of the problems with our current food system, and many farmers and consumers are demanding that we go back to agricultural production that focuses on quality over quantity. This can be seen through the increase of farmer’s markets in urban and rural areas. There was a 16% increase of farmer’s markets in the US between 2009 and 2010. There is also a growing interest in organic farming, which goes away from the harmful chemicals and the monoculture type farming that is destroying the soil.
We need to take more time to learn where our food comes from, how it was grown, and who grew it. Check out your local farmer’s market and ask your grocery stores if they are carrying any local organically grown food. Doing these things will help our plant, our health, and our local economy.
Photo credit: kudumomo