FOOD, FACTS and FADS

Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health

Big Ag: A Positive Approach?

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Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone

Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am not a farmer or an environmentalist, but I do think we should all know the price paid to meet our demand for cheap, mass-produced food.   We never think of the environmental costs brought on by misguided agricultural practices.  I must admit that when I taught nutrition courses, I never gave this much thought until I began to develop a new course we introduced a few years ago entitled “Food and Culture”.

I don’t mean to simplify this issue – there are lots of arguments on both sides to consider beyond my scope of knowledge.   But I find this article from Civil Eats has at least a small but  positive approach.  CLICK HERE.

So, this post is certainly food for thought.  From the food and culture  class, we learned about the dead zones that already exist in our own country, namely in the Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

What can be done to help this issue?  I found these suggestions courtesy of Montana State University:

  • Using fewer fertilizers and adjusting the timing of fertilizer applications to limit runoff of excess nutrients from farmland
  • Control of animal wastes so that they are not allowed to enter into waterways
  • Monitoring of septic systems and sewage treatment facilities to reduce discharge of nutrients to surface water and groundwater
  • Careful industrial practices such as limiting the discharge of nutrients, organic matter, and chemicals from manufacturing facilities

These solutions are relatively simple to implement and would significantly reduce the input of nitrogen and phosphorus to the Gulf of Mexico. A similar approach has been used successfully in the Great Lakes’ recovery from eutrophication.  (Montana State University)

So making Big Ag Better Ag may be a reality if more attention and/or awareness of some of these problems are known by consumers who innocently or unknowingly support these practices.

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