Sustainable agriculture, simply, is the production of food, fiber, or other plane and animal products that use farming techniques to preserve the environment, public health, human communities, and animal welfare. These are the four primary benefits of sustainable food systems. Below, we have discussed each in a bit more detail.
- Environmental protection—Sustainable farms produce products without relying on chemical pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, genetically modified seeds, or practices that degrade soil, water, or other natural resources (monoculture). Sustainable farms grow a variety of plants using crop rotation, conservation tillage, and pasture-based livestock husbandry. This biodiversity fosters the development and maintenance of healthier ecosystems.
- Public health protection—Sustainable crop farmers avoid hazardous pesticides, allowing them to grow fruits and vegetables that are safe for consumption. Sustainable livestock farmers and ranchers avoid dangerous practices like nontherapeutic antibiotics and arsenic-based growth promoters.
- Community sustainability—Sustainable agriculture must remain economically viable. It must provide farmers, farmworkers, food processors, and other employees with a livable wage and safe, fair working conditions. These farms bolster local and regional economies, creating jobs and supporting their communities.
- Upholding animal welfare—Sustainable crop and livestock farmers treat animals with care and respect. Raising livestock on pasture allows the animals to move freely and engage in instinctive behaviors, consume a natural diet, and avoid the stress and illness associated with confinement.
Sustainable food is a building block of Life to Table. We don’t want to focus on general “wellness” or mindful living. We want our actions to have an impact on our health and our surroundings. Investing in sustainable food—whether that means holding fundraisers for local agriculture or visiting your local farmers market—is one of the easiest ways to get there. Start small and spread the word.