Thursday, October 28, 2010

Why monocropping is stupid

Nature tends to favor diversity. Without very serious human intervention, you would never see acres of corn or soybeans. By human standards, more is better. At least most people seem to think so. What if nature had the better idea all along?

In a University of Wisconsin study, organic farming involving planting multiple crops in a given area to ward off pests is actually more profitable than monocropping. One of the big problems with monocropping is that food is then transported hundreds or even thousands of miles overseas. In most developing nations, the people who grow the food can't afford to buy it. An even bigger problem is all the chemicals needed to sustain a monocrop. There are fertilizers to enhance depleted soil (at least temporarily), pesticides to keep insects away, and herbicides to prevent weeds. All these chemicals are very dangerous to human health (it's just a matter of quantity and toxic chemicals have a cumulative effect  because they can stay in the body for many years.)

Why then are we doing it? Government subsidies have a lot to do with it. Corporate monopolies also are part of the problem, but it's not a big conspiracy. It's a habit people got into. Habits can be changed. It starts with an appreciation for where your food comes from.

What can you do?

*Grow a garden. If you don't have available space, check and see if your community has a community garden.

*Buy locally grown, organic foods when possible.

*Visit a local farmer's market. Better yet, visit a local farm.

*Choose to eat less processed food wherever possible.


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