Climate change resulting from greenhouse gas emissions has been wreaking havoc on farmers worldwide. The increasing occurrence—and destructive strength—of floods, droughts, heat waves, cold snaps, blizzards, hail, storms, tornados, and hurricanes have interfered with growing seasons and successful crop production for small and industrial farmers alike.
Industrial farming, with its use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and cattle ranching are responsible for a large percentage of greenhouse gas emissions and pollution, second only to the energy industry.
The Solution: Sustainable Agriculture
Sustainable agriculture can help alleviate and reverse some of these trends.
With sustainable agriculture, farmers use techniques that protect the environment, public health, communities, and animals. Farmers raise crops and animals without relying on chemical pesticides and fertilizers, genetically modified seeds, or techniques that damage soil, water, or other resources. Fruits and vegetables grown sustainably are safer and healthier.
Midwestern BioAg, one of our collaborators, encourages sustainable agriculture, working with farmers in several Midwestern states. The company sells fertilizers, seeds, and animal feed products as part of their soil management system, consulting with farmers to encourage biological farming.
Biological farming relies on knowledge of the area and the local soil. By choosing crops that are native to an area and sound farming techniques like crop rotation, farmers can increase their yield per acre and focus on soil health, producing crops that are naturally more resistant to pests and disease. This strategy reduces runoff of toxic pollutants from pesticides and fertilizers into the streams and rivers and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Farmers also avoid wearing out the soil by single-crop farming.
Sustainable agriculture is a wise approach not only in the U.S. but around the world, and FSM collaborators such as the AgroEcology Fund, Global Greengrants, and Sambazon encourage sound practices to preserve local habitat and help area farmers thrive without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and GMOs.
Decades of industrial farming techniques and climate change have turned some once-fertile farmland into rural deserts where worn-out soil can no longer produce good crops. And the practice of shipping fresh produce to far-distant markets has created food deserts even in areas where crops are plentiful.
Both rural and urban areas can be food deserts, defined as an area that has limited access to affordable nutritious food—especially fresh fruits and vegetables. Food deserts are all too common in low-income urban areas, especially among minority populations. In urban areas, a full-service grocery store should be available within a half mile; in a rural area, within 10 miles.
How Can You Contribute to the Effort?
FSM encourages consumers to buy food locally. Buying local food benefits you as a consumer, as well as neighboring farmers and grocers. For more information, see the St. Louis Food Community page.
Sustainable agriculture heals the earth and provides good, nutritious food for those who live here.