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Organic Agriculture and Sustainability Essay Sample

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Organic Agriculture and Sustainability Essay Sample

What should I eat today? This is a question every one of us ask ourselves everyday. But another important question we should also ask ourselves is: where is this food coming from? In recent years, the green movement has made most people familiar with words such as sustainability and global warming. Even though this movement has spread worldwide, there are still many changes needed to be made that can no longer be ignored. After much research, it is clear all of us Americans heavily rely on our nation’s food industry that is controlled by big agribusinesses; but how much do we truly know about what goes on with our food before it gets to the market? In fact, the ugly truth is that there are many discrepancies between how these businesses say their food is made and how it is made in reality.

Current conventional food processing methods use harmful chemicals and pesticides as well as greatly contribute to global warming when being transported. Due to all these detrimental factors, we are now facing various environmental and health problems. In order to have a sustainable food supply, we must grow our crops organically, which includes using natural fertilizers like composts and buying food locally to help the environment. Though transitioning to being sustainable is a long and strenuous process, it has overwhelming benefits and we cannot continue producing crops in an unsafe and environmentally inefficient manner. Nevertheless, different sources about organic agriculture and sustainability prove that the only foreseeable solution is to return to the basics and grow organically.

One of the biggest issues with our current food processing methods is the use of herbicides, pesticides, and GMOs (genetically modified organisms). These chemicals are not only harmful to our health but to the environment as well. According to a study by the Pesticide Data Program, it was found that “an average of 82 percent of conventional fruits were positive for insecticide residues compared to 23 percent of organic fruits” (Crinnion 5). Although the purpose of these certain chemicals are to create fields free of pests, it also means that everyone who is buying conventional fruits is ingesting these harmful chemicals in expense. Meanwhile, with our nation’s constantly growing and innovative technology, the food industry is able to genetically modify crops so they can have for desirable traits such as making more yields or being pest resistant. For instance, scientists created a hybrid corn that was able to have an “immediate increase in yields-a 25 to 30 percent increase” (Carolan par. 13). However, this corn is unable to pass these traits to its offspring so “each generation must be bred anew from the same parent strain,” causing the corn’s “previously rich gene pool” to shrink (Carolan par. 13).

In response, crops become more genetically identical, which can threaten the crop’s safety and have devastating consequences such as widespread epidemics. This is harmful to our environment in that genetically modified plants threaten the sustainability and biodiversity of future plant species. Unfortunately, the consequences of these conventional methods are being left to our future generations to fix. Since much of what happens to our food is only viewable to the producers, it’s hard for consumers to see the total cost of damage these methods have on society as a whole. Even so, the consequences are adding up and it is indeed clear that the chemicals that are used in the production of conventional foods are detrimental to the environment as well as the world. Similar to chemicals, the transportation of food is also destroying the environment and serves as yet another problem we have with conventional methods. Since foods can travel farther with chemicals, there is an increasing trend “to bring food from distant places where labor costs are lower” (Smith par. 6).

In effect, there are more food transporting trucks that are emitting greenhouse gases, thus contributing to global warming. For instance, one source states “it is a common practice to ship food around the country…[and] the average American foodstuff travels an estimated 1,500 miles before being consumed” (Kuepper par. 12). Global warming is becoming a very pressing concern and with all this traveling, tremendous amounts of fossil fuels are being burned, making the situation only worse. In fact, a study published by Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture shows “conventional over-the-road transportation – used 4 to 17 times more fuel and emitted 5 to 17 times more CO2 from burning of the fuel than a regional-based food distribution system” (The Cost Of Food Transportation par. 5). This proves that not only are we wasting large amounts of valuable natural resources this way, but we are also substantially harming our environment as well as our health. The use of these fossil fuels is temporary for natural resources can only last forever.

This is why there needs to be a change in the way we produce our food. The problems we face with our current food system are threatening our lives as well as the environment, showing that it is indeed an unsustainable method that needs to be reevaluated. Al Gore goes into further detail with these issues about global warming in the film Inconvenient Truth. Throughout the film, Al Gore talks about his mission to bring awareness to global warming and how change needs to be taken now in order to save the Earth. Stressing one of his many concerns, Gore states that global warming is causing glaciers to melt; however, the even more disturbing fact is that 40% of people rely on getting their water from these glaciers (Inconvenient Truth). This means that in the future, the world is going to have to deal with many shortages in clean water and this can be disastrous for human kind.

Global warming also causes temperatures of the ocean water to rise, which causes many hurricanes and tornados. For instance, with hurricanes, when warm waters pass through, it picks up more energy and it becomes stronger (Inconvenient Truth). With the rising temperatures, it is making these natural disasters occur more often with a more deadlier impact. These natural occurrences are becoming a bigger issue and we can no longer just do nothing. Like Churchill once said, “We are in the era of consequences” and are currently suffering the repercussions of global warming (Inconvenient Truth). Every step we take now has a huge influence over our future and it is vital that we stop global warming’s deadly effects. Diseases are only getting more complex, seasons are shifting, and the population is growing immensely. Ultimately, Al Gore shows that addressing the issues that deal with global warming is important for the survival of our species and better welfare of our Earth.

To help fix all these problems such with global warming and the chemicals being used, solutions are being made to improve the grave status we are at now. Pesticides and pollution are major problems in the conventional production of crops and it is time to change such a wasteful, damaging food system. One possible solution is to use natural “pesticides” that don’t harm the crops or the environment and enhance the soil quality. For instance, Composting is a simple method that “provides a practical and useful solution to waste, converting it into feed for plants while reducing our reliance on the landfills that are quickly filling up” (Kuepper par. 2) This way, one can have food that is free of man-made chemicals while also replenishing the soil with rich nutrients. Another benefit with organic agriculture is that it relies on being distributed locally. This cuts traveling time so crops will be more fresh while reducing the emissions of fossil fuels (Kuepper). Upon looking at all the facts, we are clearly harming ourselves and all the creatures that inhabit this planet with the use of these conventional methods. Organic farming is not only more sustainable but healthier for us and the environment.Therefore, a transition to organic agriculture must be made so that we can prevent the typical problems related to pesticides and pollution.

Ray Anderson stands as a perfect example of someone who recognized this need to be more sustainable and achieved the impossible. In his book Confessions of a Radical Industrialist, Interface founder and chairman Ray Anderson explains his discovery that sustainability and profitability can go “hand in hand” and the enormous benefits of having a sustainable business. He believes that “business and industry…must change their ways to survive” from not only threats of global warming but issues like resource depletion (Anderson p.4). Anderson offers a new and better way forward so that the fate of the world’s economy can be sustained. Becoming sustainable is not easy task and Anderson compares it to climbing a mountain. Even so, Anderson stresses the importance in saving ourselves from the “environmental abyss toward which we are rushing headlong” (Anderson p.6). These consequences are real and action needs to be taken now to reduce the damage that’s already been done. By following the steps Anderson advises to take, business can finally be able to climb Mount Sustainability. Thus, Anderson proves that although it involves much work, sustainability is possible and steps needs to be taken now in order to save our Earth.

Our current manner of producing food not is only devastating to our heath, but also to well-being of our planet Earth. Global warming is becoming a huge issue and if something is not done, we face a grave future ahead. After much research, it is clear that the environmental costs of these conventional methods are not worth the consequences. So we may save our planet, we have to transition to a more find a much more sustainable food system. This includes big agribusinesses going back to the basics of farming. With organic farming, we can have fresh and healthy crops that are grown locally so we do not pollute the environment. With all these benefits, the answer is simple. Make the switch to organic agriculture.

Work Cited

An Inconvenient Truth. Dir. Davis Guggenheim. Prod. Laurie David, Lawrence Bender, and Scott Z. Burns. Perf. Al Gore. Paramount Pictures Corporation, 2006. DVD. Anderson, Ray C., and Robin A. White. Confessions of a Radical Industrialist: Profits, People, Purpose: Doing Business by Respecting the Earth. New York: St. Martin’s, 2009. Print. Crinnion, Walter J. “Organic Foods Contain Higher Levels of Certain Nutrients, Lower Levels of Pesticides, and May Provide Health Benefits for the Consumer.” Alternative Medicine Review 15.1 (2010): 4-12. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 27 Apr. 2011. Carolan, Michael S. “Do You See What I See? Examining the Epistemic Barriers to Sustainable Agriculture*. ” Rural Sociology 71.2 (2006): 232-260. Social Science Module, ProQuest. Web. 1 May 2011. Kuepper, George, and Lance Gegner. “Organic, Difference between Organic and Sustainable – The Issues – Sustainable Table.” Sustainabletable. NCAT, 2004. Web. 28 Apr. 2011. . Smith, Adam. “Environmental Impact:Food Transportation.” The Inquiring Mind. 28 Apr. 2008.

Web. 13 May 2011. .
“The Cost Of Food Transportation » Market to Market.” Iowa Public Television. Corporation for Public Broadcasting, 13 Dec. 2002. Web. 15 May 2011. .

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