Lesedauer: 5 Minuten
We consume food multiple times per day: Every. Single. Day. Yet, we tend to lack a full understanding of what inputs, labor, and processes need to take place before we take a bite. A vast majority of consumers are unaware of the piling problems pertaining to agriculture and food production. Therefore, change in the agricultural industrial complex is crucial. It may be necessary that consumers take a large role in inciting change with consideration to our compliance with supply and demand.
Lens of Labor
Conventional farming has disproportionately harmed marginalized groups of people. There are major labor issues pertaining to the abuse and coercion towards immigrants. A great portion of immigrant farm workers are undocumented, and therefore susceptible to being taken advantage of and facing wage theft and poor working conditions. There is little accountability in the agricultural industrial complex. Undocumented immigration to the United States is heavily viewed with disdain, yet much of our agricultural processes rely on these very immigrants.
Environmental Degradation from Farms
Conventional farming also fails to address its intensive and extensive environmental degradation. Many environmental issues such as soil erosion, eutrophication, and contamination are products of the agricultural sector. For instance, the Gulf of Mexico has many hypoxic areas where marine life cannot be sustained. This is due to agricultural run-off from Midwest farmers in the United States. The excess nutrients of nitrogen and phosphorus lead to algal blooms in the Gulf of Mexico, and then these dead zones.
Economic and Political Factors to Change
There are many necessary economic and political changes that need to be employed in conventional farming. The government grants conventional farms huge subsidies for animal agriculture in order to keep animal products at low costs for the consumer. This action exacerbates the environmental costs animal products produce, as well as incentivizing these negative externalities to continue. A big part of this issue is the paradigm integration, or the collaboration between the government and big corporations to maximize economic progress, while causing environmental and social regression.
Prospective Outlook: We Can Fix It with Agroecology!
With consideration to the outlined social and environmental issues stemming from modern conventional agriculture, it is vital that we implement agroecological principles to our agricultural practices. Agroecology is the integrated method of agriculture that implements both social and environmental values, with attention to the relationship between plants, animals, and humans working mutualistically to minimize external inputs.
Transitioning into an agroecological farm system necessitates a very incremental process that would ensure a just transition for everyone. Essential pieces of this transition include empowering and increasing the amount of small to medium scale farms, and downsizing and eventually eliminating industrial-grade farms. In order to recover and preserve our planet’s land and complex soil system, we must take action now in order to allow for future generations to have the ability to grow and consume food.