In a time not too long ago, using organic methods was the only option. With the industrial age and the following “Green revolution” of the 20th century, heavy petroleum dependency became common practice. Pesticides, herbicides and mechanized labor promised to end world hunger, to bring the developing world to par and to expand the small economies of the globe. Although initially successful in feeding more and boosting economy, the revolution has backlashed. Farmers who were subsidized by large businesses in order to purchase the infrastructure needed to farm tremendous areas of land now find themselves in a cycle of debt. In order to try and repay their growing debt, the farmers continue to practice mono cropping, or the growing of just one type of crop. With acres and acres of one species, vulnerability to disease and pests increases dramatically and when a crop failure does strike, the farmer is pushed further and further into debt. Mechanization of agriculture has also removed large amounts of labor from the fields, pushing out many who need the work for their families’ livelihood.
Aside from the political and economic impacts, the environmental destruction caused by pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers is of an unbelievable scale. These chemicals, which end up in local waterways due to runoff caused by precipitation, ultimately enter and pollute the oceans via the water cycle. These chemicals can alter surrounding wildlife through hormonal disruption, poisoning or creating an uninhabitable environment. Often the chemicals used are toxic to all forms of life, humans included. Due to the lack of safety equipment, either from lack of funds, lack of education or commonly both, the farm workers and surrounding community are often harmed by the wide, unregulated use of toxins. Cancers, endocrine disruption and mutations are some of the more serious illnesses that can be caused by pesticide use.
However, there may still be hope! A new study by the Worldwatch Institute showed that global land farmed organically has increased more than threefold to a total of 37 million hectares. Currently, the areas with the most organically managed land include Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. Following suit are Europe and Latin America. The United States has, not surprisingly, been slow to convert conventional farmland to organic methods. Despite this, when comparing sales of organic products sold in the United States, the organic industry is one of the fastest growing with $31.5 billion in sales. The slow conversion could be due to the possible interest at stake. With many billion dollar international companies being heavily invested in conventional agriculture, both produce and livestock, there is much to lose. However, these companies know that a new wave is approaching and plan to ride it all the way to the bottom of our wallets. Many of the largest businesses in support of heavy development and petroleum usage are now offering organic brands to cash in on the best of both worlds. In fact, many of these corporations voted against Proposition 37 in California, which would have made it mandatory to label products containing genetically modified organisms (GMO and chemical usage often go hand in hand).
In the age of information, people are often coaxed to let business make our daily choices for them. People must arm themselves with the appropriate knowledge for it is all they can do. The coming revolution cannot be fought with violence and hate but must be peaceful and based on the power of the people. People are expected to believe everything they see and hear. Eat our brand to be healthy and young, try this product to be truly beautiful, wear this to have friends and love. Remove the curtains and view behind the scenes because only you can make the right choice!
- Dylan Ruckel