Doing It Right
Nature is arguably a nearly perfect machine. It uses all it's resources working together, in a complex and efficient way. Each element is important. Plants, animals, earth, all dependent on each other. For centuries farmers have used natures balance and rhythms to their advantage by carefully following it's cues and cultivating it's bounty to provide the world with food.
Sustainable farming is growing or raising food in an ecologically and ethically responsible way.
It relies on the principle that we must meet our needs without compromising the needs of future of generations. It requires that we be stewards of both human resources and natural resources. Sustainable farming takes into consideration social responsibilities like living conditions of laborers, needs of rural communities and consumer health and safety. Sustainable farms are stewards of the land and natural resources, which means maintaining and enhancing our resources for the long term. Farming practices that ensure land is nourished for future generations are sustainable practices. It means maintaining plant and animal diversity so that nature can work it's magic by providing us and generations to come with the amazing bounty of healthy food.
By taking advantage of, and maintaining biodiversity, we protect the earth and our future on it.
If you were to visit a traditional farm 50, even 30 years ago, you would have found a wide variety of crops and animals. Each playing an important role in the efficiency of that farm. Rotating crops reduces concentrations of pests specific to each crop. The same goes for animals. Allowing variety of animals to graze and forage on a plot of land not only reduces concentrations of animal specific viruses and pathogens, it also nourishes the land and naturally tills it.
Sustainable farming is in high contrast to industrial farms.
Mono-cropping (growing only one crop in a large area of land), depletes the soil requiring intensive application of commercial fertilizers. It requires heavy use of pesticides due to the concentration of pests attracted by single crops grown year after year. Pesticides, fertilizers and other inputs are damaging to the environment, to animals, to farming communities, and to farm workers.
Industrial/Concentrated Farming Operations (CFO's) require regular administration of antibiotics to minimally maintain the health of livestock and poultry due to the confined nature of that system. Animals crammed together in creates is a breading ground for viruses. The model for the CFO is to produce as much as possible as fast as possible for as little monetary cost as possible. CFO's rely on a few specialized types of livestock which endangers valuable genetic diversity. Mono-cropping and Confined Farming Operations come at a cost to our health and the environment.