Why should you join a CSA? Week 3: Environmental Impact

farmland scene NZ

farmland scene NZ

Our customers are conscious shoppers and know that buying local can reduce their environmental impact.  Sounds great, but how is that really happening?

Commercial farming operations are in the business of providing large quantities of food as efficiently and cheaply as possible.

Today only 2 percent of U.S. farms produce 70 percent of the vegetables, 50 percent of the fruit and nuts, and 35 percent of the poultry products grown in this country. Cornell, Modern Agriculture: Its Effect on the Environment

Unfortunately, this increased intensity of production has caused ill-fated environmental impact, such as soil erosion and groundwater contamination.  Erosion to the soil means less topsoil, which is necessary to support good growth of plants.  As a result of this erosion, more fertilizer and irrigation is needed to support plants in the short term.  In the long term, it could result in such poor soil quality that it wouldn’t support certain plants.

This eroded soil then makes it way to the streams and other waterways, disrupting water flow and habitats.  In addition, groundwater and waterways become contaminated from runoff from fields, which carries pesticides and fertilizers.  And use of these pesticides leads to pests that become immune to the pesticides, requiring greater strength application or type of pesticide.

Our CSA engages in responsible farming practices, such as crop rotation and conservation tillage, in an effort to save as much of the topsoil as possible and reduce erosion.  We do not use commercial pesticides or fertilizers.  Instead, we pasture our animals, resulting in natural fertilization of the land.

Did you know food and food packaging accounts for 45% of the waste in landfills according to the EPA?  Our members can feel good about using less packaging, since we don’t have to worry about transportation or long-term storage.

Its often been cited that food routinely travels 1500 miles from farm to plate.  This means mass transportation consuming fossil fuels and releasing carbon dioxide emissions as it goes.  But purchasing from our local CSA means our members are causing less  less consumption of gas and less release of harmful emissions, since our food travels much shorter distances (tens of miles instead of hundreds).  We’ll talk more about the benefits of local produce next week.

Photo credit: Freeimages.com/ Melodi2

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