Monday, February 28, 2011

Back to Sustainable Agriculture

Based of the Lecture Series Good Food: Son of a Farmer, Child of the Earth, Brooklyn Public Library, February 26th, 2011

Last Saturday, I attended the lecture series Good Food at the Brooklyn Public Library. The speaker was Eric Herm, a cotton farmer from Texas. He recently wrote a book: Son of a Farmer, Child of the Earth. His vision of our current agricultural system is very interesting. He refers to farmers as the caretakers of the earth, that the soil, just like us, is capable of healing. He also mentioned that the real challenge of agriculture will be getting everyone together and defining how we go about change because what is happening to our food supply is also affecting our health. One particular idea that stayed with me is that it is time to put unity back in community.

He talked about how our life has gotten easier, and how we are used to picking all our food at the grocery store without the need to grow anything. We are also used to having access to a wide range of food any time of the year because it comes from all around the world. There is a cost to this diversity of choice; it takes a lot of energy to transport food from every corner of the globe

As farms get increasingly larger through consolidation, farmers are more inclined to use genetically modified organism (GMO) seed, mostly because it requires less labor by the farmer. This GMO seed has affected our soil system and made it weaker. Mr. Herm admitted to using GMOs in the past and explained to us how he is now farming with no GMO seed or pesticides and a limited amount of herbicides. His farm is also on the path to being certified organic.

While Eric Herm doesn’t pretend to have all the answers to fix our current food systems, he does have some ideas that could definitely get us on the path to a more sustainable food system. Eating locally and in season, growing a small garden, and growing perennial crops that don’t need to be replanted every year can save energy. In the end, people used to live closer to where their food is produced; it must be possible to go back to a more sustainable agriculture.

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