Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Marriage of my two passions: fantasy or possibility?

In this opinion article, foodie Mark Bittman writes about how sustainable agricultural practices are not only good for the environment, but also could feed the hungry and malnourished people in the world today. By moving towards sustainable practices, the environmental harm being seen by mass production and carbon footprints would dwindle while mouths are being fed. He discusses how industrial agriculture practices use "disproportionate amounts of water and the fossil fuel that’s needed to make chemical fertilizer, mechanize working the land and its crops, running irrigation sources, heat buildings and crop dryers and, of course, transportation". He argues that the development of agro-ecology will require resources as well, but these would be less mechanical and more human-labor intensive -- which would support small farmers (keep them employed) and eliminate a lot of the pollution that goes into current food production practices. "Sustainable agriculture should be the immediate choice for underdeveloped countries, and that even developed countries should take only the best aspects of conventional agriculture along on a ride that leaves all but the best of its methods behind". In developing countries, bringing food production close to home will benefit their economy, their residents, and sustainable resources.

After reading Bittman's piece, I was in a fantasy world of my three passions finally meeting and solving the world's problems: food (passion 1) for the hungry (passion 2), with a smaller carbon footprint (passion 3). Is this dream attainable? After reading the comments to his opinion, I was a little discouraged -- it seems some farmers believe Bittman is not educated enough on how agricultre works in the United States and the implications of smaller farms and the environment -- but maybe these farmers rely on their large production scales and are self-interested?

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