In the past, I’ve come across fitness bloggers advocating for grass-fed beef because of its higher nutritional value, and while they’re not wrong, the negative effects of grass-fed beef seem to fairly outweigh its benefits. Compared to conventionally bred beef (which are already part of the harmful chain of animal agriculture), grass-fed beef have even higher greenhouse gas emissions and land use (as more forests must be cut down to make space for grazing). We saw really good examples of this in Cowspiracy, where the family farm of grazing cows are stating the humongous area that their cows are occupying like they don’t mean anything. In Cowspiracy, we also learned that the excessive North American diet takes up significantly more land than a vegan diet or mostly plant-based diet. In some aspects, the organic approach is the same: it benefits a select group of people who have the luxury of paying for costly organic produce at the sacrifice of taking up more land and emitting more methane. I think the notion of organic foods have been painted in an exaggerated manner, and their costly nature makes it more of a luxury for the elite instead of a commodity for the people. We shouldn’t be consuming these products if it comes at the expense of sacrificing precious land that we‘re losing so fast these days.
For this week, I’m envisioning a future where the notion of “Organic” doesn’t exist. There wouldn’t be a difference between conventional or unconventional farming, because every crop would be farmed in the same sustainable way that feeds back into the land.In my envisioned future, Earth’s population size would have diminished, with every person well educated about the environmental costs of agriculture and a good system that is built on pillars of sustainability instead of profit. As such, the burden that our land will have to bear is much less, and it can support every organism in a well balanced circle of life.
We can act on a daily basis to help. Since the state of the environment should be everyone’s priority, I believe we should choose our groceries in a way that limits the negative effects on our land. We can act specifically by:
doing more research to find out which organic produce takes up the most land
supporting farms that are doing more polycultures
lower consumption of products that use an excessive amount of land (ex. grass-fed beef)
Individual action alone will not be enough. In order to bring about large-scale change, the incentives of the agricultural industry needs to change. Too many people choose annual crops because there aren’t enough loans or subsidies that would support them to farm perennial crops.