Climbing Mount Sustainability
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...
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