This is part four of a 10-part series on how changing one’s eating habits may be the most accessible and impactful way to improve the world.
After our previous posts dusted a bit of information out from underneath the organic rug, you may be wondering how in the world you are to stay true to organic’s foundation.
Luckily, there are three approaches that allow you to clean under the entire rug – they’re Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), food
co-ops, and farmer’s markets. What they all have in common is their support of small local farms adhering to the organic movement’s principles. Of these principles, my personal favorites are the consumption of fresh local harvests and the use of polyculture.
With most American meals (not including foreign-grown produce) having traveled over 1,500 miles to arrive at your mouth’s doorstep, thoughts of associated pollution through fossil fuels and packaging should speak loud enough on their own. Polyculture, however, is a difficult topic to appreciate without foreknowledge on the dangers of monoculture – the industrial farm practice of growing one crop over huge expanses of land.
In a beautifully orchestrated natural world, there are many defenses that plants exhibit to avoid being eaten.
One such technique is the production of phytochemicals that naturally deter pests and diseases, but that aren’t nearly as prevalent in conventional crops raised for yield alone. With defense weapons down and few genetic differences available as “back up plans,” these monocultures have a tendency to quickly and entirely succumb to pests, pathogens and bad weather – hence, corporate desire for synthetic chemicals. Opposite to monoculture, polyculture follows nature’s guidelines through the cultivation of several crops in an area and use of methods such as crop rotation and companion planting that effectively create a safety net of diversity.
Related: previously on altCon (2.7.08)
grow local, go local – curb the carbon!