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Sustainable farming yields benefits to environment, health

Written by Lena Ye

Sustainable eating: the phrase usually brings to mind images of Whole Foods, free-range chickens and vegetables. The words are often thrown around, but many people do not completely understand the idea. To eat sustainably is to choose foods that are grown or raised in a way that does not harm the environment. One doesn’t have to become a vegetarian to eat sustainably—it starts small, and local.

Most of the food that we pick up in the supermarket are not grown or raised sustainably. Animals are reared on factory farms in inhumane and abusive conditions. They are raised in close quarters, living in their own filth for a majority of their lives until they are slaughtered. To counter the unhygienic conditions, factories will introduce antibiotics into the feed, traces of which remain in the meat when it reaches a grocery store for consumption. Factory farming creates immense amounts of waste which increases pollution and the destruction of ecosystems.

With the Green Revolution in the 1930s came the rise of industrial agriculture, intensive farming which, while producing higher amounts of crops, led to detrimental side effects such as increased pollution, exhausted land, depletion of water sources, increased pest resistance of insecticides/herbicides, and ecosystem destruction. Thousands of acres of forests were cut down to create land for industrial farming, leading to the extinction of many rare animal species. Industrial agriculture also goes hand in hand with genetically modified organisms (GMOs), a branch of science whose pros and cons are still hotly debated. Many scientists agree that GMOs are unhealthy for humans, harm the ecosystem, and contaminate other plants.

Sustainable eating is a concentrated effort to better the environment with choices in one’s diet. While helping the environment may seem like a vague and far-off cause, it is easily achievable through small changes in one’s diet.

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