Hello Everyone,

I hope you're all enjoying your summer and the great tasting seasonal and local produce that is available at this time of year. If you get a chance, take time to visit your local organic farmer's markets. You'll love the delicious tasting, chemical free, nutrient dense whole foods.

In the following article I would like to bring your attention and awareness to the source of our food today and how to choose wisely. I hope you enjoy reading it.

Sustainable Farming ► A New Name for an Old Concept

Now more than ever, we all need to understand what is happening in the food industry because our life depends on it. Food provides our body with essential nutrients like carbohydrates, proteins,  fats,  vitamins, minerals, Phytochemicals, and antioxidants, all of which nourish our body, build and repair tissue, support our immune system, fight disease, and basically keep us alive, but what if our food has been disguised and is making us sick?!!

What is sustainable farming? It’s probably what most consumers assume the food they serve their families comes from. The true meaning of agriculture, is to produce healthy, nourishing, and tasty food to sustain life and in doing so, the land and the environment is naturally preserved and replenished; however, in the past fifty or so years the focus has been about power and money; agriculture has become a business that no longer values the basic foundations of growing healthy food and preserving the environment. I think Elton John said it best in one of his songs: “In the circle of life, you should never take more than you give”. Well, the circle has been broken and now we are paying the price with our health and our life. We have to make it right again to bring balance to our planet, and to ensure our survival as a species (if it’s not too late).

In order for me to elaborate more on this topic, I have to take a different approach; to begin by defining sustainable farming will not have the necessary impact on the reader unless they are aware of our current agricultural practices. In other words, most of us were lead to believe, that sustainable farming is the norm when in fact we are so far from it. To appreciate the importance of sustainable farming, we must understand the detrimental effects of industrial agriculture or factory farming.

Currently the business of agriculture is driven by yield and profit; in order to drive those two factors up, the agri-business has adopted practices such as monocultures, large farms growing one type of crop year after year to get more bushels per acre. The result is depleted soil quality, loss of nutrients in food, and increase pest populations that are drawn to the one type of crop; this leads to more chemical fertilizer and pesticide use which in turn leads to contamination of our water, the environment and our health. The use of heavy machinery to produce at a faster rate in these massive farms has resulted in further depletion and loss of moisture to the soil from the compacting effect which is also putting high demands on the water supply. Farm machinery leads to the consumption of fossil fuel, a non renewable resource, and when you factor in the use of transport trucks and crop dusting, the result is green house gasses and climate change. You get the domino effect, and this is just the beginning, when the last domino falls, it will be the end of all the resources necessary to sustain life.

Let's not forget GMO foods; our food is altered in labs; they are genetically modified to resist all the poisons that are sprayed over those farms like chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and fungicides. Our food is also genetically altered to be uniform in shape and size to enhance appearance to yield more profit. It's harvested early for transport and then artificially ripened with ethylene gas. Our food is irradiated to kill bacteria and in the process altering its DNA. The result of factory farming is food that is depleted of nutrients, denatured, and void of taste; there is much more to this, but you get the gist of it.

Next is our animal source of food; this is more disturbing because in addition to the damaging effect on the environment and the risk of horrific food born diseases (such as Salmonella, Listeria, E. coli , Mad Cow, and more), there is the added element of to the unimaginable animal cruelty that goes on in factory farms. Animals are kept in confined spaces wading in their own filth. The poultry are painfully de-beaked in order to prevent them from damaging each other when they fight due to crowded conditions. Live stock and poultry are injected with antibiotics to enhance growth for greater yield and profit. Animals are beaten and forced to live their entire lives in pain, unable to move, and never seeing daylight. To substantiate this further, research indicates that the CDC (Center for Disease Control) has estimated 76 million illnesses caused by food, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5000 deaths in the US each year.

Manure from factory farms is stored in underground or open air pits; this has lead to air and water pollution as well as afflicting nearby residence with serious illnesses and even causing death to farm workers from asphyxiation. Livestock are fed grain rather than grass and the ratio of grain to beef in kilograms is 7:1 which translates to more land for growing the grain, more pesticide use, more water pollution, and it goes on.

Now that I've given a brief picture of where our food really comes from, I can define sustainable agriculture; it is the silver lining; it is a holistic approach to farming that considers important factors such as health, environment, humane treatment of livestock, sustainability of resources, and ecological balance. Sustainable Agriculture is not a new idea; it is what has simply been called “farming” for 10,000 years until farming was redefined just over 50 years ago. There are small organic farmers today struggling to survive in spite of lack of support from governments.

There are several aspects of sustainable organic farming such as crop rotation which reduces the need for pesticides and fertilizer because different crops nourish each other as well as deter pests that are attracted to one crop from proliferating. Growing cover crops and low or no till farming also help to nourish the soil and maintain moisture reducing water usage.  Soil management is a key aspect in maintaining its ecosystem; it means keeping the balance of chemical, organic, and physical properties as well as preserving the organisms in the soil. Healthy soil is vital in the production of nutritious, resilient, and pest resistant crop. Also good soil management means that there isn’t excess run off of pesticides and chemicals polluting the water and killing sea life.

Diversity in farming is essential to sustainability; incorporating free range live stock to crop growing farms has many ecological benefits: manure from animals can be used as fertilizer for the soil eliminating harmful chemical fertilizer and their expense. Another aspect of sustainable farming practices is Rotational grazing which means having farm animals graze in different areas to prevent soil erosion and it reduces the cost of feed. This has the monumental benefit of preserving the land by reducing the need for large grain production to feed live stock which is not the food of choice when it comes to raising healthy animals; grass fed animals are much healthier and in turn more nutritious for human consumption.

Now, at this point I anticipate you are left with the following questions: If factory farming is depleting our resources, destroying the planet, making us sick and even killing us, why is it allowed to continue? If sustainable organic farming is the answer, then why is it not replacing current farming practices? Obviously the answer is complex, but the bottom line is the bottom line, belonging to the industries that produce the chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, large farm machinery, transport businesses, and the list goes on of all the external business that will be impacted financially if industrial farming vanished. In a nut shell, man got caught up in a whirlwind of the industries’ tunnel vision. There are some sustainable farms that are struggling to survive and there are those that want to convert to more sustainable methods, but governments are making it impossible. The majority of government subsidies go to the large unsustainable farms, and the irony is, additional funding goes to support research on chemical fixes to the issues industrial farming is causing.

I’d like to conclude this article by exploring the question of where do we go from here? Well, we can helplessly stand by and witness our apocalypse, or we can take steps to try to save ourselves, future generations, and our planet. We have options as individuals and as a society:

• We can support small family run farms by buying organic produce and humanely raised meat. We have the power to vote with our dollar...we can choose who to give it to.

• Reducing our meat consumption and choosing healthier options like pasture fed humanely raised animals can have a profound impact on our health and the environment because to produce one pound of beef, it requires 2400 gallons of water and 7 pounds of grain.

• We can educate ourselves and others on why current food production methods are making us sick, and how to make better choices that will support our health and in turn support more sustainable farming practices.

• We can lobby to change policies to make factory farms responsible to pay for the clean-up of the pollution they cause; right now our tax dollar pays for it and as a result, the industry leaders don't have to deal with the consequences of their actions.

Let's be aware and mindful of what we're eating, where it comes from, and how it's impacting us and our environment; let's do this for our sake and the sake of future generations.

To your health and the health of our environment.



Research Article

How sustainable agriculture can address the environmental and human health harms of industrial agriculture. Leo Horrigan, Robert S Lawrence, and Polly Walker. Center for a Livable Future, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA. 


Marina Silverio is a registered holistic nutritionist and a qualified practitioner.

Click here for more information on her services and fees.


Marina Silverio, RHN / 647-960-2853 / www.MarinaRHN.ca / nutrition@marinaRHN.ca


This newsletter © Copyright 2015, Marina Silverio, RHN