Sunday, July 11, 2010

You are what you eat. But what about the farmers?

"Interest in how our food is grown has been rekindled in recent years, with particular focus on sustainable agriculture."

So begins a piece on civil eats which discusses what sustainable agriculture means - especially as the world needs to be able to feed every growing numbers of people.

The US National Research Council (NRC) has considered the question and as civil eats says:

"The NRC report sidesteps the debate about what sustainable agriculture is by arguing that the “pursuit of sustainability is not a matter of defining sustainable or unsustainable agriculture, but rather is about assessing whether choices of farming practices and systems would lead to a more or less sustainable system as measured by the four goals.” It argues the “inherently subjective” nature of characterizing sustainable agriculture and underscores the degree to which different groups emphasize different goals of sustainable agricultural systems, which the NRC frames as:

Satisfying human food, fiber, and feed requirements, and contributing to biofuels needs;
Enhancing environmental quality and the resource base;
Maintaining the economic viability of agriculture; and
Improving the quality of life for farmers, farm workers, and society as a whole.

The bottom line conclusion of the study? In order to meet society’s long-term needs for food, fiber, and fuel, and minimize externalities, “agricultural production will have to substantially accelerate progress towards the four sustainability goals” outlined above."

Read on, here, if you want to know where the farmers might fit into all of this.

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