What is Sustainable Agriculture?

Sustainable agriculture takes into consideration the health and preservation of biological diversity, that is, all living things, both plants and animals. It does this by examining its goals not only from the ground up, but from the ground down: without healthy soils and water for the long term, all of us will suffer. Unlike industrial agriculture, sustainable farming functions without synthetic chemicals and nutrient overloads. Farmers rely instead on natural ebb and flows within their operations; they understand, or at least seek to understand, population limits--whether those of bacteria, chickens or heads of cattle. It's about responsibly priced food, not cheap food, as one Michael Pollan would say.

Dr. David W. Orr, a prolific author and Professor and Chair of the Environmental Studies program at Oberlin College in Ohio, offers these words on the impacts of industrial agriculture: "We take great pride...in being the best, and most cheaply, fed people in history. But we are fed by a ruinous, fossil fuel-powered industrial system that contributes to climate change, water pollution, biotic [living organisms] impoverishment, depletion of groundwater, and soil loss. It exploits labor and rural communities and undermines future productivity of the land. The system encourages obesity, cancer, and heart disease--all signs of a national eating disorder. ...If we want a better politics...we must take greater responsibility for how we are fed and supplied, replacing the elaborately destructive systems that provision us with better ones that rely on local resources and local competence."

~In 'The Nature of Design', 2002, Oxford Press

Here's a great website that offers lots of good info on sustainable agriculture:  www.sustainabletable.org/intro/whatis